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BASEBALL FALLS IN CONFERENCE OPENER TO NO. 23 NEW MEXICO STATE 7-6
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Sacramento State held a 4-1 lead early, but fell to the No. 23 ranked New Mexico State Aggies, 7-6, in both squads conference opener on Friday, April 3 at Presley Askew Field.
With the loss, the Hornets fall to 16-10 overall, 0-1 in Western Athletic Conference play, while the Aggies improve to 26-3, 1-0 in the WAC.
The Aggies opened the scoring in the bottom of the first, as with one out Nate Shaver hit a home run to center, his sixth of the season, to give New Mexico State a 1-0 lead.
Sacramento State took the lead in the top of the second, scoring four runs in the inning, all of which came with two outs. With runners on first and third and two down, freshman Aaron Crouch connected on a RBI double to left center, tying the game at 1-1. After sophomore Brent Hottman walked, senior Hunter Martinez connected on a two-run single to left center, giving the Hornets a 3-1 lead. Sophomore Derrick Chung then followed with a RBI single, pushing the Hornet advantage to three at 4-1.
The score remained that way until the bottom of the sixth, when New Mexico State pushed five runs across the board, also all with two outs. Jeffery Fernham started the scoring rally with a RBI single off of Hornet sophomore starter Chris Baek. Baek then gave way to Brian Filice, who allowed a two-run single to Leo Aguirre. The Aggies then produced back-to-back RBI singles off of senior reliever Nick Buchta, giving the Aggies the lead once again at 6-4.
The Hornets had a strong chance to score in the top of the seventh with the bases loaded and one out, but could only score one as junior Josh Powers connected on a RBI sacrifice fly, making the score 6-5 in favor of New Mexico State.
After the Aggies scored an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, making the score 7-5, the Hornets mounted a rally in the top of the ninth. Chung was hit by a pitch to open the inning, and junior Tim Wheeler followed with a single, giving the Hornets the tying run at first with nobody out. After a groundout by senior Blake Crosby that moved Chung to third and Wheeler to second, Powers again connected on a sacrifice fly, scoring Chung to pull Sacramento State to within one at 7-6. With senior Jeff Roth at the plate, Wheeler stole third with a 3-1 count, and with the count full, Roth hit a hard liner to short that was snared by Bryan Marquez, ending the game.
Baek pitched well for the Hornets, allowing three runs on three hits in 5.2 innings, striking out a career-high nine batters in the process. Filice (0-1) picked up the loss for the Hornets, allowing three runs on two hits without recording an out.
Tyler Sturdevant (4-2) picked up the win for the Aggies, allowing five runs, one earned, on seven hits in 6.1 innings, striking out eight Hornet batters. Erik Nyquist picked up his fourth save, allowing one run on one hit in the ninth.
Martinez and Wheeler scratched out two hits apiece to lead the Hornets, while Aguirre lead NMSU with a 2-for-4 night with two RBI.
The two clubs will meet again tomorrow afternoon for a doubleheader scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Pacific time.
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