By Albert Luna
New Mexico State’s baseball season got off to a nailbiting start on Friday night as they came back from a four-run deficit to win their season-opener against Towson, 8-5, at the Presley Askew Field.
The Aggies came into the year after an 11-38-1 record just one year ago. They had a massive roster overhaul over the summer, bringing in 31 new faces, including eight freshmen. Towson was 17-35-2 a year ago.
Friday’s game is the first in a three-game series that will conclude on Sunday afternoon. The game also marked the first match to be played in the newly renovated ‘Skew Field, with new locker rooms and press boxes.
The Aggies were led primarily on the mound with freshman Kyle Bradish who got the start.
Both teams struggled to find their offensive grooves, especially in the first three innings with just two hits and a run from Mason Fishback to show for it. However, the fifth inning changed the entire facet of the game.
“We were nervous, we were tight, we really wanted to perform well,” says Head Coach Brian Green.
Coming into the fifth inning, Bradish and the Aggies’ defense held up pretty well and allowed the Tigers no hits or runs. For the Tigers, however, once you get one bat to swing, the rest will usually follow suit. The Aggies gave up five runs on five hits in the inning before stopping the bleeding.
At the time, it looked like the Aggies’ chance of mounting a comeback was slim, especially with a four-run deficit. However, they began chipping away successfully in each of the innings to follow, starting just minutes after in the bottom of the 5th inning.
“I’m proud of our hitters, they didn’t get phased or overreact by the circumstances and they stayed confident,” Green says.
The Aggies scored a run in every inning the rest of the way, including one in the fifth that saw senior Jay Sheely start off the comeback with an RBI. NMSU also found some success in the bottom of the sixth inning, after Brandish redeemed his fifth inning performance by allowing no hits in the next. The Aggies were then able to take advantage of a tired Towson, which walked two Aggie players in a row.
With no outs and runners on first and second, the Aggie offense was able to muster two runs in the inning with Daniel Johnson and Brent Sakuari both getting credited with the two RBIs. Another 1-2-3 pitching inning in the top of the seventh, up went a game-tying Trey Stine homerun that went far left field.
With the game tied, the Aggies switched pitchers to Tyler Erwin, who had to work to get out of the eighth inning, which was the setting for the Aggies getting their biggest offensive performance of the game, with three runs highlighted by a two Johnson-RBIs on the first pitch.
The Aggies got the win in the next frame, needing just four batters to finish the comeback.
“We worked hard and I’m proud of them for this game, and now we need to clean the slate and move on tomorrow,” Green says.
The team will be back in action on Saturday, with the second in the three-game series scheduled to take place at two p.m.
Albert Luna may be reached at ALuna32@nmsu.edu
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