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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Baseball falls to NMSU after error-filled 8th

Good pitching never cancels out bad defense, and the No. 5 Arizona baseball team learned that the hard way Tuesday night, falling 7-4 to New Mexico State at Hi Corbett Field.

“Defense has been a pretty good strength of ours throughout the season, but obviously it was the reason we lost,” Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said. “We didn’t play well at the end, when it’s close like that, you have to play good baseball when it counts, and we didn’t.”

New Mexico State (16-8) head coach Rocky Ward and his father, assistant coach Gary Ward, were absent from Tuesday’s contest for family reasons, but the Aggies were still able to keep the Wildcats (16-5, 2-1 Pac-12) off balance for the entire evening.

Things got off to a slow start for both teams as the score tied was tied at one after two innings.
Arizona center fielder Joey Rickard started out the bottom of the third with a leadoff double and right fielder Robert Refsnyder drove him in with a double to left field to put the Wildcats up 2-1.

The Aggies wouldn’t be undone, however, as center fielder Kyle Phillips singled in a run and evened the score at two.

The game took an odd turn in the bottom half of the inning as Aggie starter Casey Collins balked a run in and New Mexico State assistant-turned-temporary-head-coach Mike Evans came out to argue the call.

Evans wasn’t overly animated but was ejected from the game after lingering on the field for a while, leaving New Mexico State with volunteer assistant Nate Shaver as its only coach in the dugout.

The ejection also forced the Aggies to use junior pitcher Michael Ormseth as their first base coach.

Lopez said that while this situation was pretty unique, he had seen it a few times in his career before.

“You know, life sometimes happens,” Lopez said. “They did a good job though. They battled.”

The Aggies didn’t seem to be fazed by the coaching mix-up and were able to even the game at four in the top half of the seventh.

Then the wheels started to come off for the Wildcats in the top of the eighth as two errors on a single play brought in two runs for the Aggies, making it 6-4. The UA committed three errors in the inning.

The Wildcats’ dormant offense persisted and the Aggies added an insurance run to finish on top 7-4.

Arizona starter Tyler Hale had one of his best outings of the year, tying his career high with seven strikeouts and allowing two earned runs in five innings on the mound.

Even the bullpen, one of the most inconsistent parts of Arizona since the start of the season, was able to follow suit. The pitchers allowed only a combined three runs on the game. The other three belonged to the poor Wildcat defensive effort.

After his fielding error in the top of the eighth, junior shortstop Alex Mejia was quick to blame the Wildcats’ loss on his own play.

“I put that game on myself,” Mejia said. “(Pitcher Stephen Manthei) did a great job, but if I had made that play it would’ve shut the door. That loss is on me.”

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