LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- Despite allowing just three hits and pounding out eight of its own, the Saint Mary's baseball team dropped its 2014 season opener at New Mexico State, falling 4-2 in Las Cruces on Friday.
Senior Ryan Brockett got the ball in game one and for four innings looked every bit the Friday starter that will anchor the pitching staff this season. The left-hander allowed just one hit in the first four frames, giving Saint Mary's a chance to jump out to the early lead.
Jump the Gaels did, manufacturing their first run of the season in the very first inning. Anthony Villa sent a one-out single to right, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Designated hitter Nikko Saenz brought Villa in with a productive out, flying to center to bring his teammate home.
Saint Mary's added an insurance run in the top of the fifth to go up 2-0. Darian Ramage got the inning started with a two-out infield single, turning the lineup over against New Mexico State starter Christopher Bradley. Leadoff hitter Anthony Gonsolin made it count, doubling to center to score Ramage and chase Bradley from the game.
New Mexico State (1-0) took the lead for good in the fifth. A leadoff walk, followed by an errant pickoff by Brockett set up the first run as Jory Goldstrom singled in Kyle Young to get the Aggies on the board.
Another walk, sacrifice bunt and walk chased Brockett and brought Thomas Cortese into the game facing a tough situation. Cortese got one out via the strikeout, but with two outs Kris Koerper doubled to left, bringing all three inherited runners around to score and giving New Mexico State the 4-2 lead.
Saint Mary's had one final rally in the eighth, as Gonsolin singled, Villa reached on an error and Ferguson earned the intentional free pass. Aggies pitcher Billy Conard escaped the jam unscathed, striking out Saenz and inducing Trevor Ellison to hit into an inning-ending double play.
The Gaels outhit the Aggies 8-3, with Gonsolin, Villa and Hornsby each collecting two hits. Senior Brad Nease made his first appearance for the Gaels in over a year and pitched quite well in his season debut, working 3 1/3 innings of hitless relief.
Saint Mary's and New Mexico State return to Presley Askew Field on Saturday for games two and three of this weekend's four-game set. Game one of the doubleheader is set for 12:05 p.m. (PST) with freshman Cameron Neff scheduled to make his Saint Mary's debut against Kyle Kilgore. Game two of the doubleheader starts at 4:05 p.m. with SMC sophomore David Dellaserra making his 2014 debut against Robert Kraft.