WAC Wizardry: NM State scores seven in ninth to beat Utah Valley

The basics
Game Fifty
Score: New Mexico State 15, Utah Valley 14
Recordings: NM State (19-31, 9-19 WAC); Utah Valley (18-36; 9-19 CMA)
Location: Orem, Utah (UCCU Ballpark)

OREM, Utah- WAC magic. That’s the only explanation.

Trailing by six runs with three outs to play, the NM State baseball team needed a miracle. And that’s exactly what they got. Seven runs on seven hits in the ninth inning lifted the Aggies to victory.

The Aggies led 4-0 before Utah Valley came to bat in third. In the first round, Gunner Antillon and Edwin Martinez-Pagani the two ripped doubles to give NM State a 2-0 lead, Brandon Dieter bounced into a scoring groundout in the second before Logan Gallina left the court for the 19th time this season in the third inning.

Utah Valley recovered a run late in the third before Cal Kilgore again put NM State up by four in the fourth inning. The freshman catcher pushed a single down the right side to score AJ Garcia.

The Wolverines scored seven runs late in the fourth inning to take an 8-5 lead. When it looked like Utah Valley had all the energy in the game, the Aggies again refused to turn around and quit.

After Kilgore and Dieter reached, Gallina decided to lift his second home run of the night and his 20th long ball of the season to tie the game at eight. Gallina’s 20th home run propelled him to a tie for 10th on NM State’s single-season home run list.

Just as NM State never gave up in the game, Wolverine’s offense continued to attack, scoring four runs in the seventh inning. The twisted number was fueled by a three-point home run before Hayden John ignited and extinguished the flames. Utah Valley added two more runs in the eighth inning to extend the lead.

Trailing 14-8 as the game headed into the ninth, hopes looked dim for the NM State ball club. Nonetheless, the Aggies staged one of the most impressive comebacks in school history. Three of the first four batters have reached via extra hits, including a two-run homer from Preston Godfrey. Cal Villareal and Kilgore followed with consecutive base hits before Dieter lifted a sacrificial fly to bring Gunner Antillon to the plate during the tying run.

Antillon walked before Gallina got the Aggies back in a run with an RBI single – his fifth RBI of the night. Kevin Jimenez put the Aggies on top with a two-way single that scored this fall between a trio of Wolverines. Jimenez was sent off trying to stretch him double but NM State took the lead and handed the ball to Alex Bustamante.

As Bustamante raced up the hill, NM State was just three outs away from a miraculous victory Thursday night. In his first year as an Aggie, Bustamante had the ups and downs of being a relief pitcher, but picked up the crucial win with two flyouts and a strikeout. With Thursday’s win, the Aggies are just one win away from securing a berth in the WAC Baseball Tournament in Mesa.

Quick shots

  • Logan Gallina led the way for NM State with four hits, including a pair of home runs.
  • Gallina’s 20th home run pushed him into a tie for 10th in NM State’s single-season history.
  • Kevin Jiménez moved into a tie for eighth on NM State’s single-season doubles list when he started the ninth inning with a double sack.
  • With his sixth save of the season, Alex Bustamante moves into a tie for eighth on NM State’s single-season save list.
  • The ninth-inning comeback was the first time NM State had won a ball game while trailing after eight innings. Thursday, the Aggies were 0-21 when trailing after eight hours.
  • Six different Aggies have scored multiple hits.

On the bridge

The Aggies and Wolverines will face off again on Friday night starting at 6:05 p.m. MT. All the action can be found on ESPN+ as the Aggies may land a bid for the WAC Baseball Tournament.

For complete coverage of NM State baseball throughout the 2022 Aggies campaign, visit NMStateSports.com – the official home of Aggie athletics – and follow the Aggies on Facebook (NM State Baseball), Twitter (@NMStateBaseball) and Instagram (@NMStateBaseball).
++NM State++

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