Aggies are set to open baseball regional - Albuquerque Journal

Aggies are set to open baseball regional

Aggies pitcher Pablo Cortes was a member of the WAC All-Tournament team last week. (Courtesy of NMSU Athletics)

CORVALLIS, Ore. — For the second time in four seasons, the New Mexico State baseball program will be heading to the NCAA Tournament.

It will be the sixth time in school history the Aggies (24-32) are going dancing.

On Friday, they will get underway against regional host and No. 3 Oregon State at 8 p.m. MT. Ian Mejia will get the ball for New Mexico State, opposing Cooper Hjerpe.

In the opening game of the regional Friday, No. 2 Vanderbilt and No. 3 San Diego will play at 2 p.m.

New Mexico State punched its ticket to the tournament with a 7-1 win over Abilene Christian in the WAC tournament championship game. The Aggies went 4-0 throughout the week in Mesa, Arizona.

The Aggies were the fourth seed in the West Division, finishing sixth but California Baptist and Dixie State were ineligible for postseason play as reclassifying members.

New Mexico State needed to win two of three over Utah Valley in the final week of play to qualify for the tourney.

The title was the second WAC championship in school history with the other coming in 2018.

In the WAC tournament, NM State never trailed, outscoring opponents 27-5.

The trip to Corvallis will be N.M. State’s sixth regional appearance. The Aggies have a 1-8 record in NCAA postseason play with the win coming in the 2003 Tempe Regional, 14-12, over UNLV.

While it is Mike Kirby’s first NCAA Regional appearance as a head coach, the skipper has a wealth of postseason experience, including a 1995 College World Series championship at Cal State Fullerton and four trips to Omaha with the Titans.

During the WAC tournament, N.M. State pitchers had a 1.06 ERA.

Cal Villareal earned WAC tournament MVP honors while Tommy Tabak, Nolan Funke, Ian Mejia and Pablo Cortes all earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team.

With Grand Canyon receiving an at-large bid to the tournament field, the WAC becomes one of 11 conferences to receive multiple bids.

The last time the WAC was a multi-bid league came in 2012 when New Mexico State was selected as an at-large team alongside Fresno State.

Riding a four-game winning streak since the beginning of the WAC tournament, the Aggies are approaching the longest winning streak of the season (five from Feb. 19-27).

Coming into the regional, N.M. State is 2-5 all-time against Oregon State, 0-3 against San Diego and has never faced Vanderbilt.

ABOUT THE BEAVERS: Oregon State enters the regional as the third overall seed in the country.

The Beavers fell in the Pac-12 championship game to Stanford, 9-5. In conference play this season, Oregon State finished with a 20-10 record, winning the Pac-12 regular-season title.

The Beavers have lifted the trophy in Omaha three times before. In 2006 and 2007, Oregon State claimed back-to-back College World Series titles before once again reaching the mountain top in 2018. OSU has claimed 26 conference championships and made 20 NCAA Tournament appearances.

ABOUT THE COMMODORES: Vanderbilt heads to Corvallis as the two seed in the regional.

The Commodores suffered back-to-back losses to Tennessee and Kentucky in the SEC tournament to be eliminated. Nonetheless, the Commodores captured an at-large bid with a 36-21 record.

ABOUT THE TOREROS: San Diego posted a 36-18 record in the regular season, including a 17-10 record in the West Coast Conference.

The Toreros took two of three games over Grand Canyon and swept the two-game season series against California Baptist, posting a 4-1 record against WAC opponents.

The trip to Corvallis will be the ninth postseason trip in San Diego’s history and the first trip since 2013.

■ For complete coverage of NM State baseball throughout the regional, visit NMStateSports.com.

Friday

Corvallis Regional: N.M. State at Oregon State, 8 p.m., ESPNU, 101.7 FM

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