After almost a month away from Presley Askew Field, the New Mexico State baseball team returns home this week to face its in-state rival and begin its Western Athletic Conference home schedule.
The Aggies begin the homestand by facing I-25 rival New Mexico on Tuesday, March 25, at Presley Askew Field. The game is scheduled for a 3 p.m. (MDT) start time. NM State then kicks off WAC home play with a three-game series versus Sacramento State from Friday through Sunday, March 28-30. The first two games of the series will begin at 6:05 p.m. while Sunday’s finale has a 12:05 p.m. start time.
Friday night’s game will be televised live on the AggieVision network and will also be available with a live webcast on ESPN3. The remaining three games of the week can be heard live over the Las Cruces airwaves on KSNM AM 570 with Jeff Mathews on the call.
NM State sits at 10-13 on the season and 2-1 in the WAC after going 3-8 on an 11-game road trip. The Aggies will be happy to see their home stadium, where they have accumulated seven of their 10 wins (7-5).
NM State concluded the road swing with its first WAC series of the season. After losing the first game versus new conference member Texas-Pan American, the Aggies took the final two games to win the series two games to one.
The Aggies will head into Tuesday’s game against the Lobos with four players hitting above .300, led by the brother tandem of Kris and Joe Koerper who are batting .359 and .341 respectively. Kris also leads the WAC in RBIs with 20 on the season and is tied for the team-lead in home runs with three long balls on the year. Redshirt sophomore Ryan Wagner also has three home runs on the season.
UNM comes to Las Cruces with a 16-8-1 record including going 5-4 away from Lobo Field. The Lobos sit at 6-3 in the Mountain West Conference and are coming off a 2-1 series win over MWC member San Jose State, including a 9-4 win on Sunday, March 23, during the final game of the series.
The Sacramento State Hornets have an overall record of 12-11 and are currently on a four-game winning streak after beginning WAC play with a three-game sweep of Northern Colorado. The Hornets will bring a 3-0 WAC record to Las Cruces. Sacramento State is 3-5 in road games this season and will play two out-of-conference games during the week at the Air Force Academy before heading down to play NM State.
NM State-New Mexico Series
The Aggies and Lobos square off for the 224th time in program history on Tuesday. New Mexico holds a 142-81 advantage over NM State. The Aggies and Lobos first met back in 1962. That season the two teams played each other four times with the Lobos winning three of four games. The Aggies have played the Lobos more than any other team in school history.
Last season NM State and New Mexico split the two games that were played, as each team won at home. Over the last five games of the series, NM State holds a 3-2 advantage, while holding a 7-3 record in the last 10 games. Since 2010, the Aggies are 4-1 against the Lobos at Presley Askew Field.
In the first five seasons of the series (1962-66), 20 games were played between the two schools, as the Lobos were 15-5 against the Aggies.
NM State-Sacramento State Series
NM State and Sacramento State have met 57 times in program history, as Sac State holds a three game advantage at 30-27. The first meeting between the two schools came in 1997 as Sac State won the three game series 2-1.
The Aggies and Hornets were conference opponents in two separate conferences. From 1997 to 2000 the teams were members of the Big West and then since 2006 both have been members of the WAC. All the games played in the series have been conference contests.
Over the last 10 games, Sac State holds a 6-4 advantage and 1-4 record in the last five contests. The Aggies and Hornets have played 12 weekend series between the two of them with Sac State winning six series, while the Aggies have won four with both teams splitting twice.
Scouting the Lobos
The New Mexico Lobos are having a good season under seventh year head coach, Ray Birmingham. With an overall record of 16-8-1 and a conference record of 6-3, the Lobos are tied for second place in the Mountain West Conference with San Diego State. The Lobos have won seven of their last eight games.
Chase Harris will be the player to watch for New Mexico. Harris leads his team in RBI with 30 on the season. He also has the most hits on the squad with 40 and he holds the top slugging percentage on the team with .500 percent.
Josh Walker is 3-1 on the season for the Lobos, leading the team with 45 innings pitched and 19 strikeouts. He also carries and ERA of 3.40. Colton Thomson has 22 strikeouts to lead the team.
As a team, the Lobos have 283 hits, .313 batting average, 159 runs scored, 94 walks and 141 RBI.
Scouting the Hornets
The Sacramento State Hornets have an overall record of 12-11 on the season and 3-0 in WAC play after sweeping Northern Colorado this past weekend. Head coach, and former 2012 WAC Coach of the Year, Reggie Christiansen leads the way for Sacramento State.
As a team, the Hornets have 91 runs on the season, 198 hits, 86 RBI and eight total home runs. Sophomore outfielder, Nathan Lukes, is a talented player for the Hornets. He leads his team with 15 runs and 29 hits on the season. Lukes is also tied for third on the team in RBI with nine on the season.
Right handed pitcher Alex Palsha leads the pitching staff with a 1.50 ERA and a 3-0 record. Brennan Leitao is the team leader in innings pitched (38.0) and strikeouts with 20.
Koerper’s Lead NM State at the Plate
Brothers Joseph and Kristoffer Koerper lead NM State at the plate this season, through 23 games. Joseph has a team leading .359 batting average, with 14 hits and five runs scored, including four RBI and 16 total bases in just 12 games this season.
Kristoffer is hitting .341 at the plate, leading the team in at-bats (88), runs (20), hits (30), doubles (6), homeruns (3) and RBI (20). He also has a team-leading 37 total bases and 195 putouts.
Combined the Koerper’s have tallied 44 of the Aggies 203 hits, which is 22 percent of the team’s hits and 24 of the team’s RBI, which is almost 20 percent of the team total.
Kyle Kilgore is putting double duty for the Aggies in 2014 as a pitcher and an infielder. To date, Kilgore is hitting .308 with eight hits and four runs scored, including three RBI, while leading the team in slugging percentage at .538.
As a pitcher, Kilgore is 2-1 overall with 7.78 ERA, allowing 20 runs on 27 hits in 19.2 innings of work this season. He has strukeout 12 batters and is just one of two Aggies with a winning record.
Releifer Barr Perfect in 2014
Middle reliefer Riloey Barr holds a perfect 3-0 record this season and is just one of two Aggies with a winning record. Barr has pitched 22.1 innings this season, allowing 10 runs, eight earned on 23 hits, while striking out 10 batters in 11 appearances.
Against Texas-Pan American this past weekend, Barr saw action in two games helping the Aggies to a pair of wins. In four innings of work over the weekend, Barr allowed no hits and an unearned run, while striking out one batter. In the series finale, Barr faced 10 batters, not allow a single hit.
Derek Umphres Aims for Multiple Hits
Umphres has played in all 23 games for the Aggies this season, starting 22 of them. He has a .321 batting average, which ranks third on the team. He has 27 hits, 16 runs and 12 RBI so far this season. He has a slugging percentage of .440 and an on-base percentage of .392. Umphres leads the team with 10 multiple-hit games, including three games where he tallied three hits.
Ryan Wagner Making the Most of His Starts
Wagner has played in 20 games this season including 14 starts. He has a .262 batting average and has 16 total hits. He has hit three doubles and three homeruns and has 15 RBI. Wagner has a slugging percentage of .459 and has scored eight runs. He has four multiple-hit and multiple-RBI games this season.
Trey Gonzales Dominates in Relief
Gonzales has appeared in eight games this season, all in relief. He leads the team with a 1.69 ERA, but has a 0-1 record. In 10.2 innings of work, Gonzales has struck out seven batters while allowing two earned runs. He has allowed one double and one homerun this season and opponents have a .256 batting average against him.
Zach Freeman Solid Out of the Bullpen
Freeman has made eight relief appearances this season. He has a 2-2 record and a 4.34 ERA. He has struck out 18 batters and allowed nine earned runs in 18.2 innings of work. He has not surrendered a homerun this season and opponents are batting .268 against him.
Starters Finding Consistency as a Unit
Christopher Bradley, Robert Kraft, Billy Conard and Kyle Kilgore have made up the starting rotation for the Aggies this year. Bradley leads the starters with a 3.27 ERA. He has a 1-3 record and leads the team with 28 strikeouts in 33.0 innings pitched. Kraft has an ERA of 3.98 while earning a 1-2 record thus far in six starts. He is second to Bradley in innings pitched with 31.2, but has racked up 22 strikeouts and has yet to allow a homerun. Conard has appeared in six games, starting five of them. He has a 1-2 record and an ERA of 5.40. In 28.1 innings pitched, Conard has struck out 21 batters and walked 12. Kilgore leads the Aggie starters with a 2-1 record in five starts. He has an ERA of 7.78 and has pitched 19.2 innings. Kilgore has struck out 12 batters and opponents have a .355 batting average against him.
Last Five Games
The New Mexico State baseball team is 2-3 over the last five games played, while picking up those two wins over Texas-Pan American this past weekend. The Aggies hit .265 as a team during those five games with Michael Medina and Joseph Koerper leading the NM State offense marking a .353 batting average during that time. Both Medina and Koerper went 6-of-17 with two runs scored but Medina had three RBIs and a .529 slugging percentage and a team best .542 on-base percentage with four walks. Senior Michael Paulson had a team-best five walks over the past five games and was also 1-for-1 on stolen base attempts.
Zach Freeman and Riley Barr were the two Aggies to earn wins during the past five games with Freeman earning the win as a reliever during a 7-4 victory over UTPA, Saturday, March 22. He entered the game in the fifth inning, as the Aggies were tied with the Broncs 4-4, and immediately got a strikeout to end the inning. He would proceed to pitch the next three innings without allowing a single hit or run. Freeman picked up the win to go to .500 on the season at 2-2. Barr also tallied his win as a reliver during a 3-2 win, Sunday, March 23. Barr earned the win, pitching three and a third innings, allowing no runs, no hits and striking out one batter. Barr moves to 3-0 on the season, rehiring all 10 batters he faced on the day. Robert Kraft, who got the start for the Aggies, pitched five and two-thirds innings, giving up two runs on seven hits, while striking out seven batters.
The Aggie pitching staff marked 3.80 ERA over the past five games and posted only 23 K’s, compared to their opponents putting up 37 strikeouts in the same amount of games. Left-hander Robert Kraft made two appearances during that time and worked a team-high 13.0 innings.
Last 10 Games
NM State has gone 3-7 over the last 10 games posting a .297 batting average as a team, while the pitching staff marked a 6.29 ERA as a staff. The Aggies scored 39 runs but allowed 71 runs during those 10 games with sophomore Kent Blackstone crossing the plate seven times, more than any other Aggie.
Joseph Koerper, who played in all of the last 10 games and started in nine of them, posted a .382 batting average going 13-of-34 with two doubles, four RBIs and four runs scored. He also picked up seven walks, but Michael Paulson also showed patience at the plate during the last 10 games as he walked 11 times. Sophomore third baseman Derek Umphres went 10-of-39 during the last 10 games with two doubles and six RBIs. He also had three walks and was hit once.
NM State pitchers struck out 50 batters during the last 10 games with Billy Conrad marking 11 strikeouts in 14.2 innings of work. He made three starts during that time and allowed 12 earned runs and only five walks. Riley Barr made five appearances over the past 10 games and worked 15.2 innings as he struck out six batters and allowed five walks.
NM State at Home
NM State is 7-5 at home this season with wins over Saint Mary’s, SIU-Edwardsville and one against Oakland. The Aggies have a .291 batting average at home and have produced 30 more runs than their opponents have at Presley Askew Field. NM State’s pitching staff has allowed 68 runs to score at Presley Askew Field and have a 4.07 ERA at home.
Kristopher Koerper leads the Aggie offense when playing in Las Cruces as he is hitting .447 (21-of-47) in 12 home appearances. Koerper has tallied five doubles and three home runs to go along with 19 RBIs on his home turf. Ryan Wagner also has three homers at home this year and has put up 12 RBIs.
Pitchers Riley Barr and Kyle Kilgore are each 2-0 at home this season but Barr has made the most appearances at Presley Askew Field with six. Starter Christopher Bradley has made three starts for NM State at home this season and has a 2.70 ERA in 16.2 innings of work while marking 15 K’s and allowing five earned runs.
NM State vs. UTPA
The Aggies took the Western Athletic Conference opener 2-1 on the road against Texas-Pan American this past weekend. Pitchers Riley Barr and Zach Freeman picked up wins as relievers and neither pitcher allowed an earned run. Joseph Koerper played in all three games and went 4-of-8 (.500) at the dish to go along with three walks and a .636 on-base percentage. Michael Medina hit .400 (4-of-10) on the weekend and had a double, a triple and three RBIs while finishing the weekend with a .700 slugging percentage.
The NM State baseball team kicked off WAC play with a 9-4 loss to Texas-Pan American Friday night at Edinburg Baseball Stadium. It was the Broncs inaugural game as a part of the WAC.
NM State only allowed six UTPA hits on the night while marking eight of its own. In fact, the Aggies held the Broncs scoreless and hitless in seven of the nine innings, as UTPA scored all of its runs and marked all its hits in the fourth and fifth innings. Senior Michael Medina and junior Michael Paulson each had two hits on Friday to lead the Aggies. Medina also marked three RBIs on the night; all with one swing as the NM State right fielder hit a three-run triple in the seventh inning. Aggie starter Chris Bradley did not allow a hit through the first-three innings but struggled during the next two innings en route to picking up the loss. Bradley pitched into the fifth allowing five runs on four hits to fall to 1-3 on the season.
NM State team picked up its first WAC win of the season on Saturday night as the Aggies beat UTPA, 7-4, at Edinburg Baseball Stadium. Four runs in the second inning and three in the sixth were enough to give the Aggies their ninth win of the season. Each team finished with seven hits on the night, but five UTPA errors proved costly and helped NM State, who had none, win just its second road game of the season and break a four-game losing streak.
The Aggies defeated Texas-Pan American, Sunday, 3-2. The victory also gave the Aggies the series, 2-1. NM State is now 10-13 overall and 2-1 in WAC play.
The Aggies were led by Michael Paulson and Joseph Koerper who each recording two hits. Derek Umphres, Kristoffer Koerper and Ryan Wagner crossed the plate for the Aggies during the game, as the Aggies recorded one RBI in the game, by Jory Goldstrom. Riley Barr earned the win for the Aggies, pitching three and a third innings, allowing no runs, no hits and striking out one batter. Barr moves to 3-0 on the season, rehiring all 10 batters he faced on the day. Robert Kraft, who got the start for the Aggies, pitched five and two-thirds innings, giving up two runs on seven hits, while striking out seven batters.