Seattle University allowed New Mexico State to take the early advantage and did not convert on enough scoring opportunities as the game went along, as the Aggies defeated the Redhawks, 7-3, in the third game of the 2014 Western Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament Thursday at Cubs Park, eliminating Seattle U from the postseason competition.
“I thought we were in a good position today, taking into account the adversity they (New Mexico State) faced last night. Unfortunately, we ran into our crutches, including not receiving timely hitting when we needed it, as we left 12 runners on base today,” Seattle U head coach Donny Harrel said. “Also we didn’t take care of the ball defensively, especially when two of their first three runs came because we did not execute defensively. We put ourselves in a hole and didn’t have enough depth to push all the way back.”
New Mexico State (22-30) struck first in the third inning when Taylor Noyer led off with a single and Michael Medina was hit by a pitch. After Seattle U starter Will Dennis (Saratoga, Calif.) retired the next two Aggie batters, he intentionally walked Derek Umphres to load the bases, but then he walked Kristoffer Koerper to force in Noyer with the first run of the game.
In the top of the fourth inning, Joseph Koerper reached on an error, and Kent Blackstone followed with a bunt single. Both runners advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Noyer, and Medina drove in Koerper with a sacrifice fly to left field.
With two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, Griffin Andreychuk (Nanaimo, B.C.) doubled to left field and came around to score on a single by Chase Fields (Ontario, Ore.). However, New Mexico State answered back in the top of the sixth inning when Jory Goldstrom drove in Blackstone with a single to left-center field.
Seattle U had a golden opportunity in the bottom of the sixth as Brian Olson (Black Diamond, Wash.) drew a walk, Cash McGuire (Kent, Wash.) singled to right field, and Brock Carpenter (Milton, Wash.) sent a single through the right side of the infield, loading the bases with one out. Colin Peterson’s (Bellingham, Wash.) flyout to right field was too shallow to advance anyone, and Aggie reliever Riley Barr induced a flyout on the only pitch of his outing to end the Redhawk threat without any runs scoring.
Blackstone led off the eighth inning with a triple and scored on a single by Noyer. Seattle U reliever Andrew Olson (Enumclaw, Wash.) retired the next two batters, but a single by Michael Paulson eluded Fields, allowing Noyer to come around to score and Paulson to reach third base. Umphres would drive in Paulson with an infield single, increasing the Aggie lead to 6-1.
The Redhawks put together another opportunity in the bottom of the eighth when McGuire doubled and advanced to third on a single by Carpenter, but Aggie reliever Zach Freeman retired the next two batters to keep Seattle U off the scoreboard. New Mexico State further increased its lead in the top of the ninth thanks to a leadoff home run by Kyle Kilgore.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Seattle U put together four straight singles, with Landon Cray (Chimacum, Wash.) driving in Fields and Olson bringing home Ryan Somers (Sammamish, Wash.), who had singled as a pinch hitter. Freeman would strikeout the final two Seattle U batters of the inning and game to complete his first save of the season.
Billy Conard earned the victory for the Aggies, allowing seven hits, two walks, and one run in 5 2/3 innings of work. Dennis took the loss for the Redhawks, giving up eight hits, two walks, and three runs, two of them earned, in six innings on the mound, striking out six Aggie batters along the way.
Fields once again led the Redhawks offensively, going 4-for-4 and reaching base in all five plate appearances, while Cray, McGuire, and Carpenter earned two hits apiece. Blackstone and Noyer were the hitting stars for the Aggies, each of them going 3-for-4 with two runs scored during the game.
With the loss, Seattle University’s 2014 season ends with a 26-27 record, the most victories for the Redhawks in a single season since the program returned to varsity status in 2010.
“The guys had a great year, as we earned our highest win total, but we are also disappointed that we did not finish the year with at least a .500 record. Going two and out in the tournament is not what we wanted to do, but hopefully the guys use this as a growing opportunity for the future,” added Harrel.