The Aggie baseball team lost their opening round game of the WAC tournament last night falling 15-8 to Fresno State. The Aggies and Bulldogs were scoreless through one before a couple of cheap singles was followed by three Aggie errors, two by shortstop Zach Voight on the same play (fielding plus throwing) on a fairly routine grounder and a throwing error by third baseman Bobby Lecount on a bunt. When the dust settled the errors plus the Bulldog batters lining up some Ryan Beck offerings led to a 10-0 deficit for New Mexico State. Not the start the Aggies were looking for. Fresno State added a couple more runs in the third and it appeared that after just three innings that the game was over.
The Aggies headed into the bottom of the sixth down 12-0 but put together a 6-run rally to cut the deficit to 12-6, all six runs coming with two outs. The Aggies actually stranded runners on second and third and had they been able to get one more base hit, there's a distinct possibility that the Aggies could have come back and won the game. The Aggies and Bulldogs would go on to trade runs back and forth the remainder of the game.
There are a few of positives that you can take away from the loss. The first, the Aggies used nine pitchers in the game and nobody on the staff should be unavailable the rest of the way, this includes starter Ryan Beck who lasted just an inning and a third and threw 38 pitches.
Second, the Aggies rallied. It would have been easy for the team to pack it in and let the game end via run-rule in the seventh and strategically it would have made sense, just from a pitching perspective. However, going into an elimination game coming off a 12-0 loss feels much different than going into an elimination game off a 15-8 loss. The Aggies would have been still trying to "get into" the tournament had they been shut out and run-ruled. Instead the Aggies go into this morning's elimination game with at least a small amount of momentum (and the Aggie pitching staff gave up just three runs in the final six innings).
The one other silver lining is that the Aggies should have the pitching advantage this morning and should they win the game they'd also figure to have the pitching advantage this afternoon. Both Louisiana Tech and Nevada have both used their top two starters (though we wouldn't rule out Nevada bringing Jameson back this afternoon for some relief work as he left five innings of work throwing just 81 pitches).
What do the Aggies need to do this morning? Get out in front. Don't give Louisiana Tech any measure of hope. This is a Bulldog team that probably feels like they owe the Aggies after losing a pair of walk-off games and a run-rule game in Las Cruces. The Aggies need an A+ performance out of First Team All-WAC pitcher Adam Mott and the Aggie bats need to strike early and often.
If the Aggies can just figure out a way to survive today's elimination games, they can feel at least a little better about their at-large chances in the NCAA tournament.
Today's first elimination game is scheduled for a 12:00 p.m. (MDT) first pitch. Should the Aggies win that game they would face Nevada at 4:00 p.m. (MDT).