The New Mexico State Aggies’ bid for a stunning college baseball upset Friday night ended in anticlimactic fashion with a 10th-inning, bases-loaded walk, giving Oregon State a 5-4 victory over NMSU in a first-round NCAA Regional game in Corvallis, Oregon.
The Aggies (24-33), an improbable entrant in the tournament, almost did the even more improbable. They took a 3-2 lead against the Beavers (45-15), the tournament’s third overall seed, on Tommy Tabak’s two-run double in the seventh inning.
After the Beavers regained the lead with two runs in the bottom of the seventh, NMSU’s tied it in the top of the ninth when Nolan Funke singled, advanced to second on a groundout and scored on Preston Godfrey’s single.
New Mexico State got the potential go-ahead run to second base in the top of the 10th when Edward Martinez-Pagani reached on an error and a groundout. But Ryan Brown, the third OSU pitcher, struck out Logan Gallina for out No. 3.
In the decisive bottom of the 10th, Aggies reliever Alex Bustamante (1-3) had two outs with men on first and second. But he walked Jabin Trosky and Justin Boyd on four pitches each, and that was the game.
The Aggies’ trip to the NCAA Tournament is far from over. They’ll face Vanderbilt, a 3-2 upset loser to San Diego, at 2 p.m. Saturday in an elimination game.
Oregon State and San Diego meet at 8 p.m. in the winner’s bracket of the four-team regional.
New Mexico State starter Ian Mejia was outstanding, holding the potent Oregon State lineup in check for most of 7⅓ innings. He gave up nine hits and struck out nine.
And the Aggies did enough damage to Oregon State ace Cooper Hjerpe to give themselves a chance.
In the second inning, with OSU up 1-0, Hjerpe hit Kevin Jimenez with a pitch. Jimenez got all the way to third on a groundout, then scored on a Tabak single.
Oregon State went back ahead with a single run in the fifth. But in the seventh, the Aggies took advantage of another lapse in control by Hjerpe.
First, Martinez-Pagani drew a walk. After a Jimenez groundout, Hjerpe hit Gallina and Funke in consecutive at-bats. Tabak then doubled to center field, scoring Martinez-Pagani and Gallina.
It was a remarkable performance by NMSU, which barely qualified for the Western Athletic Conference Tournament and went 0-for-4 during the season against upstate rival New Mexico.
NMSU won the WAC Tournament, then almost beat mighty Oregon State.
Now, Vanderbilt awaits.