In a complete reversal of the previous game, the Seattle University offense was unproductive, and New Mexico State picked up timely hits in the middle innings on its way to a 4-0 victory over the Redhawks Friday afternoon in a Western Athletic Conference baseball game at Bannerwood Park.
Aggie starter Christopher Bradley allowed just three hits and four walks in 6 1/3 innings, striking out six Redhawk batters along the way. Seattle U created a scoring chance in the second inning when Nick Latta (Tacoma, Wash.) led off with a walk, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Somers (Sammamish, Wash.), and reached third base when Bradley committed a balk. However, Aggie third baseman Robert Lecount fielded a grounder off the bat of Brian Olson (Black Diamond, Wash.) and threw home in time to cut down Latta trying to score.
After Seattle U stranded runners in scoring position in the third and fourth innings, New Mexico State broke through in the top of the fifth, starting with a single by Michael Paulson and a walk drawn by Michael Medina. After Will Dennis (Saratoga, Calif.) came on in relief of Redhawk starter Ben Ruff (Fife, Wash.), Quinnton Mack’s line drive to left field fell in front of the dive of Austen Brand (Tacoma, Wash.) and rolled towards the fence for a double, allowing Paulson to score.
Tanner Rust followed with a groundout that scored Medina, and Parker Hipp hit a high chopper up the middle for a single, driving in Mack with the third run of the inning. The Redhawks left another runner on base in the bottom of the fifth, and the Aggies extended their lead in the sixth inning when Kyle Phillips led off with a single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, and scored on a single through the right side of the infield by Kent Blackstone.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, Bryndon Ecklund (Elma, Wash.) sent a single up the middle, and Cullen Hendrickson (Auburn, Wash.) drew a walk. Ryan Beck, one of New Mexico State’s normal weekend starters, came on in relief of Bradley and picked up a strikeout and a groundout to end the Redhawk threat, and he followed that with a perfect eighth inning that included two more strikeouts.
Evan Mott, another Aggie pitcher who has been in the weekend rotation for most of the season, came on in the ninth inning and allowed just a single while finishing off the Redhawks. In the end, Seattle U finished with just four hits in nine innings less than 24 hours after collecting 16 hits in just six innings at the plate.
“We talked last night about guarding against exactly what happened today. We were not disciplined at the plate, did not have the same focus, and chased way too many pitches down in the zone,” Seattle U head baseball coach Donny Harrel said. “We did not pitch badly and we didn’t play bad defense, but we needed to do more offensively, especially against their number-four starter.”
New Mexico State (28-25, 13-13 WAC) collected eight hits, led by Phillips with a 3-for-4 hitting performance. Ruff took the loss after allowing two hits, three walks, and two runs in 4 1/3 innings, while Dennis had his longest outing of the season, going four innings and giving up six hits and two runs.
Seattle University (20-33, 9-16 WAC) will close the regular season against New Mexico State Saturday, May 18, at Courter Field on the campus of Bellevue College. First pitch is scheduled for 12 noon, with Senior Day ceremonies set to begin at 11:45 a.m.