LAS CRUCES, N.M. – For the second-consecutive week the New Mexico State baseball team won a series three games to one after beating the SIU-Edwardsville Cougars 4-1 on Sunday afternoon at Presley Askew Field.
The Aggies won the final three games of the series after losing the opener on Friday. With the win NM State improves to 6-2 on the season while the Cougars fall to 1-6.
Although the Aggies only had five hits, they also added four walks and took advantage of a couple of SIU-E errors. The Cougars, on the other hand, had eight hits, but left 10 runners on base.
NM State starter Billy Conard pitched into the seventh inning, only allowing six hits and one run en route to picking up his first win as an Aggie.
Offensively, senior second baseman Jory Goldstrom had all three RBIs the Aggies marked on the day while senior right fielder Michael Medina had two of NM State’s five hits and scored two of the four runs. Medina finished 2-for-3 with a couple of singles and also added a walk.
The Aggies started the scoring with a couple of runs in the bottom half of the third inning. Third baseman Derek Umphres started off the inning with a walk. A couple of batters later Medina hit a single through the left side. Goldstrom followed with a double off the center-field wall that brought in both Umphres and Medina.
SIU-E got one of the runs back in the top of the fourth after Conard allowed three singles in the inning. Conard avoided more damage by getting Cougar catcher Brian Sipe to ground out to a fielder’s choice with two runners on base. NM State led 2-1 after four innings.
The Aggies added to their lead with another two runs in the fifth. With one out, freshman Austin von Blasingame, who got the start at center field, beat out a dribbler to first base to get his first-career hit at NM State. The speedy von Blasingame then advanced to second on a wild pitch before stealing third base.
After Medina walked to put runners on the corners, he took off for second during the first pitch to Goldstrom. An errant throw by Sipe allowed von Blasingame to score and Medina to head to third base. Goldstrom then hit a grounder to second base, which allowed Medina to score and Goldstrom to pick up his third RBI.
Trailing 4-1, SIU-E once again tried to answer during the top half of the sixth. A single and a couple of walks loaded the bases for the Cougars. With two outs, Conard would once again get the best of Sipe, this time by forcing a ground ball to Goldstrom. Goldstrom grabbed the roller and hopped on second base for the final out of the inning.
NM State would only allow one runner to reach scoring position during the final three innings of the game. Sophomore reliever Trey Gonzales came in to pitch the ninth and picked up his second save of the season after Goldstrom caught a line-drive shot and threw to first base for a game-ending double play.
The Aggies now look forward to playing their third-consecutive four-game series at Presley Askew Field. NM State will host the Oakland (Mich.) University Golden Grizzlies beginning Friday, Feb. 28, with a matchup scheduled for a 6:05 p.m. (MT) start.