LAS CRUCES, N.M. --- Tanner Rust's bases loaded single in the ninth inning drove in the winning run to give New Mexico State a 5-4 win over Sacramento State in the first game of the series on Friday night.
The Hornets (19-15 overall, 5-5 Western Athletic Conference) built an early 3-0 lead after four innings but fell behind, 4-3, after the eighth inning. The team was down to its last out when Justin Higley was hit by a pitch. Higley then stole second and took third on a wild pitch before tying the game on a single from David Del Grande. Del Grande followed Higley's lead by stealing second and moving to third on a wild pitch but was stranded after a groundout back to the mound.
The Aggies (19-15, 5-5) loaded the bases without an out in the bottom half of the inning. Joseph Koerper led off with a walk and Michael Medina followed with a bunt attempt that was mishandled allowing both runners to reach. A single through the left side of the infield by Jory Goldstrom loaded the bases before Rust drove a ball to left field.
Sacramento State scored the first run of the game when Chris Lewis singled to left to score Ayers. The hit extended Lewis streak to 10 consecutive games and pushed his reached base safely streak to 25 games. Higley made the score, 3-0, with a two-run home run in the fourth inning.
Hornet starter Ty Nichols kept NMSU off the board until the sixth inning when Parker Hipp's sacrifice fly scored Tanner Rust from third. New Mexico State's next three runs were all unearned beginning with a groundball to third by Goldstrom which got away and allowed two runs to score in the seventh to tie the game. The Aggies took their first lead in the eighth inning when Parker Hipp, who reached on an error, scored on a two-out double by Kyle Phillips.
Nichols threw 6.0 innings and struck out seven with only one run, one walk and five hits in the no-decision. Brandon Creel (4-2) was handed the loss in his 1.1 innings. Michael Ormseth (3-2), who pitched to just one batter in the ninth inning, earned the win.
The Hornets had eight hits as a team with only Higley (2-3) picking up more than one. The junior also scored two runs and drove in a pair.
The second game of the series will take place on Saturday at 5 p.m. PT.