LAS CRUCES, NM—NM State defeated CSU Bakersfield 10-4 Friday night in game two of the Western Athletic Conference baseball series between the two clubs.
The Roadrunners raced to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first. Mark Pena singled to lead off the game and moved to second on a David Metzgar walk. The duo completed a double steal, which resulted in Metzgar stealing his 41st career base, breaking Jordie Hein's (40, 2012-15) previous school mark in the category. Ryan Grotjohn's two-RBI double plated Pena and Metzgar. Mahlik Jones' RBI single scored Grotjohn to cap off the rally.
The Aggies bounced back with a Dan Hetzel RBI single in the bottom of the first. With runners on the corners, Jones dove for a Mason Fishback grounder. He was able to throw down to Metzgar at second who successfully turned the double play with a throw onto Max Carter at first.
Aaron Charles hit Tristen Carranza to begin the second. Marcus Still's single to short pushed Carranza to second. Greg Popylisen's sac bunt advanced both runners into scoring position. With the infield in, Joey Ortiz tied the game with a single through the right side. Ortiz went to third on a Brent Sakurai single. A Charles wild pitch allowed Ortiz to come home for the lead.
NM State added to the advantage in the fourth when Ortiz drove in Still by grounding out to second. With one out in the fifth, Sergio Robles singled off Aggies' reliever Andy Frankes. Franks came on to start the inning after starter Marcel Renteria left with an apparent arm injury. Junior Felix worked out a walk. Mark Pena grounded into a 4-6 fielder's choice for the second out. Frankes faked to third on a pick off play, threw over to first and picked Pena off to end the inning.
Kenny Johnson relieved Charles to begin the fifth. LJ Hatch worked out a walk and stole second to get the frame underway for the Aggies. With one out and the infield in, Hetzel hit a liner toward Metzgar at second. He caught the ball for the second out. Fishback struck out to conclude matters.
Three straight NMSU singles began the sixth. Ortiz drove in a run with a sacrifice fly for the first run of the inning. Jones relieved Johnson to face Sakurai, the NMSU leadoff hitter. Sakurai's sac fly scored a run to make it 7-3. Hatch reach on an error that plated the third and what proved to be the final run of the inning for the Aggies.
CSUB put runners on the corners with two outs in the eighth. Dalton Shalberg entered in place of Frakes. Grotjohn battled back from 0-2 in the count to record his second hit of the night, an infield single that allowed Felix to score. Hetzel kept the ‘Runners at bay when he made a diving catch of a Jones' liner to complete the CSUB eighth.
NM State added two runs in the bottom of the eighth to create the final six-run margin of victory. Matthew McHugh pitched a scoreless ninth for the Aggies.
"We had a hard time getting ahead of counts today on the mound," said CSUB interim head coach Jeremy Beard. "Tip your hat to them, NM State is very good at home."
Still was 3-for-4 with three runs scored. Although Ortiz was only 1-for-2, he drove in four runs. After allowing three hits in the first two innings, the four NM State pitchers limited CSUB to four hits for the rest of the game. The quartet struck out seeven and walked five.
The series between CSUB (28-22, 13-10 WAC) and NMSU (35-19, 19-4 WAC) concludes the regular season Saturday. First pitch is now 11 a.m. MT/10 a.m. PT. If NM State can sweep the series from the Roadrunners on Saturday, they would earn a share of the WAC title with Grand Canyon. Both teams entered the weekend with the No. 1 (NMSU) and No. 2 (CSUB) seed already locked up for next week's WAC Tournament.