NMSU eliminated from tournament by Missouri

TUCSON, Ariz. — The New Mexico State baseball team was eliminated from the NCAA tournament Saturday with a 6-2 loss to Missouri in an elimination game in the Tucson Regional.

The Aggies, who lost four straight to end the year, finished with a record of 35-24.

Starting pitcher junior Adam Mott went 7 1/3 innings and gave up two runs while striking out five.

Mott was pulled after he gave up a double in the bottom of the eighth with NMSU holding a 2-1 lead and Missouri took advantage by scoring five runs in the inning.  Relief pitcher Bob Kraft gave up one run in the frame and senior Scott Coffman gave up three on a walk and two triples.

“I was able to command all three of my pitches, and on top of that, I was able to pitch with runners on base and that is basically what you have to do if you want to be successful on any level,” Mott said.  “We had a spectacular season, and I wouldn’t have done it with any other group of guys.”

The Aggies took a 2-0 lead in the second inning. After a leadoff single by senior Tanner Waite and a walk by senior Bryan Karraker, senior Zach Voight brought in both runners with a triple to right-center. But Missouri answered in the bottom half, using three consecutive singles to cut the deficit to 2-1.

NMSU had a chance to extend the lead with a runner on base in the top of the fifth when Voight hammered a ball down the left-field line that hit the third-base umpire, preventing extra bases and possibly preventing a run from scoring.

“It was just baseball luck,” head coach Rocky Ward said. “We had a 2-1 lead and we had momentum early in the game. We left a lot of people on base, and the No. 2 offense in the nation never showed up. That’s the bottom line. We couldn’t get the breakthrough hit we needed to carry momentum late in the game.”

Missouri’s Jeff Emens was the winning pitcher, going three innings and finishing with three strikeouts and no walks or runs allowed. Kraft was the losing pitcher, as he was charged with the go-ahead run in the eighth.

Mott allowed with seven hits, two runs and two walks to go along with five strikeouts in his 7 1/3 innings of work.

The Tigers got three hits and three RBIs from left fielder Scott Sommerfeld and two hits, two runs and one RBI from designated hitter Michael McGraw. The Aggies were led by designated hitter Kurt Snowley, who had three hits, and Voight, who had the team’s lone RBI in the season-ending loss.

“I wouldn’t have done this with another group of guys,” Voight said. “I know everyone says that, but I have 26 brothers on this team that would do anything for one another at any hour of the day.

“We have nothing to hand our heads about. We went down to the last pitch, just like we have done all year. I feel like it was a successful year.”