STEPHENVILLE – Tarleton outlasted New Mexico State – and mother nature – on Friday at the Cecil Ballow Baseball Complex to notch a 12-8 victory in the first contest of a four-game weekend set.
The Texans (16-24, 9-12 WAC) took advantage of three Aggie errors in a ballgame that featured a trio of lead changes, two weather delays and lasted more than five hours. Tarleton used a six-spot in the corresponding inning following an extended thunder-induced stoppage to assume an 11-6 lead before A.J. Wood struck out three of the game’s final four batters to earn a four-out save.
Tarleton has now won seven of its last nine conference games and four-of-five overall. The Texans and Aggies are set to play a doubleheader on Saturday before the series concludes on Sunday.
All of Tarleton’s sixth inning runs came with two out. A sharp single to right field by Kemuel Thomas-Rivera plated a pair to eradicate a brief one-run New Mexico State advantage and put the hosts in front 7-6. Blake Burns and London Green then walked to load the bases for Wade Raburn. A central Texas thunderstorm put a pause on Tarleton’s rally, however.
The game was delayed for 75 minutes prior to play resuming. Raburn worked a full count walk to up Tarleton’s lead to 8-6 before fellow outfielder Colby Seltzer was plunked on the ensuing pitch to score another run. New Mexico State (11-22, 9-12 WAC) then issued two more free passes to Dean Frew and Spencer Bloom to effectively lock up a Texan win.
Thomas-Rivera led Tarleton with three RBI’s while Seltzer and Frew each finished with two.
New Mexico State scored five runs in the top of the sixth off of Alex Pinedo to assume its lead. Four of the Aggies runs came after Pinedo allowed two home runs on consecutive pitches with two down.
The sixth inning was the lone blemish on an otherwise strong start from the lefthander. Pinedo, who transferred to Tarleton last year from New Mexico State, earned the win and moved his win-loss record to 3-4. The El Paso native allowed just one hit over the game’s first five innings and fired four shutout frames between the second and fifth innings.
Pinedo fanned six batters before giving way to righty Justin Waltmon. The junior worked 1.2 innings following the game’s second weather delay. Waltmon allowed two runs in the seventh as the Aggies trimmed Tarleton’s edge to four runs. An error and a walk were sandwiched between a pair of outs to put runners at first and second in the eighth with two down, prompting head coach Aaron Meade to turn to Wood.
The 6-4 right-hander struck out the ensuing batter on three pitches to strand a pair. Wood (2.41 ERA, 26 K’s) then used a two punchouts with his fastball in the ninth and a fielder’s choice to lock up his eighth save of the season. The Central Washington University transfer threw 17 of his 21 pitches for strikes.
Tarleton registered an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth off a sacrifice fly to left field from Frew to score Green.
The Texans tagged Aggies starter Rorik Maltrud for a trio of runs in the first inning to build a 3-1 lead. Two hit batters and a single by Tyler Fowler set the table. Burns grounded out to second two score Thomas-Rivera and Green singled to give Tarleton an early 2-1 lead. Selter then lifted a sacrifice fly to right field after Raburn was drilled by a high-and-tight fastball.
Tarleton scored its two other runs in the bottom of the fourth off Maltrud via a sacrifice bunt from Bryan Aguilar and single to left field by Thomas-Rivera.
First pitch for the first of two games between the Texans and Aggies is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday. Tarleton is expected to start right-handers Luke Bailey (3-3, 4.40 ERA) and Bryce Hackett (2-3, 30 K’s).