By Derek Gonzales
The New Mexico State Aggies baseball team has already improved on their 2015 season, which started 1-15, in this, the 2016 season, with two wins thus far, defeating the Towson Tigers 17-3 on Saturday afternoon at Presley Askew Field.
Marcel Renteria took the mound for the Aggies, and his first start as an Aggie was efficient, going four innings, giving up only three runs, and only one was earned. The highly sought-after right-hander from Pima Community College was brought in to help the Aggie pitching staff improve its 7.35 team ERA in 2014, and had a great outing for the Aggies today. He threw 38 strikes and struck out four Tigers, and will be a vital for the Aggies going forward.
The Aggies got a run in the bottom of the first, when Jaron Balman was able to hit a single to score Trey Stine. Towson was unable to get anything going offensively early, and fell deeper behind in the bottom of the second when, after a couple of singles by Jason Bush and Brent Sakurai put two runners on base, Daniel Johnson smashed a three-run homerun, his first of two on the day, over the right field fence, jolting State to a 4-0 lead when the second inning came to an end.
Renteria was cruising until he found himself in a bases-loaded, no-out situation. He gave up a single to Towson outfielder Colin Gimblet, but brought the Towson momentum to a halt when he made Clark Catchey ground into a double play that saw the ball come up to Renteria at the mound. Renteria was then able to get the force-out at home plate, and they threw out Catchey at first, preventing a run from being scored on the play.
The next Towson batter was infielder Richie Palacios, and he hit into the gap between left and center field. Two Tigers scored and another was thrown out at third base. That ended the inning, but the Aggies lead was reduced to one, at 4-3.
Bush and Sakurai got on base again for the Aggies in the bottom of the fourth, and with Bush in scoring position, it led Towson to go to a pitching change, bringing in right-handed freshman Skylar Morris. With a runner in scoring position and facing Daniel Johnson, who already had a homerun, Morris hit Johnson, loading the bases.
L.J. Hatch was next up for NM State, and he hit a three-run double to the warning track in center, clearing the bases and adding to the lead, making the score 7-3. Morris gave up another run as Stine hit a double down the left field line scoring Hatch.
It worsened from there, when Aggie Joseph Koerper hit a homerun to center field, putting the Aggies comfortably ahead with the score at 12-3. Skylar Morris exited the game allowing eight runs and wasn’t able to record an out. Dean Stramara came into the game to relieve Morris, and gave up a solo homerun to the first batter he faced, Trey Bell. The fourth inning saw NM State score nine runs on seven hits, with three doubles and two homeruns.
The Aggies brought in 31 new faces last offseason, and it appears that the culture change will lead to a much-improved team to compliment the new facilities that Presley Askew Field has to offer.
The team has only given up eight runs through the first two games, and that’s a huge improvement from a year ago. NM State will look to complete the sweep against Towson on Sunday at one p.m. at Presley Askew Field.
Derek Gonzales can be reached at email@example.com
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