Score: NM State 15, Utah Valley 14
Records: NM State (19-31, 9-19 WAC); Utah Valley (18-36; 9-19 WAC)
Location: Orem, Utah (UCCU Ballpark)
OREM, Utah – WAC Wizardry. It's the only explanation.
Trailing by six runs with three outs to play, the NM State baseball team needed a miracle. And that's exactly what they got. Seven runs on seven hits in the ninth inning lifted the Aggies to victory.
The Aggies led 4-0 before Utah Valley came to bat in the third. In the first inning, Gunner Antillon and Edwin Martinez-Pagani both ripped doubles to give NM State a 2-0 lead, Brandon Dieter bounced into a run-scoring groundout in the second before Logan Gallina left the yard for the 19th time this season in the third inning.
Utah Valley got a run back in the bottom of the third before Cal Kilgore once again put NM State up by four in the fourth inning. The freshman catcher pushed a single through the right side to score AJ Garcia.
The Wolverines put up seven runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to take an 8-5 lead. While it appeared that Utah Valley held all of the energy in the game, the Aggies once again refused to roll over and quit.
After Kilgore and Dieter reached, Gallina decided to lift his second home run of the night and 20th long ball of the season to tie the game at eight. Gallina's 20th home run moved him into a tie for 10th place on NM State's single-season home run list.
Just as NM State never gave up in the game, the Wolverine offense continued to attack, plating four runs in the seventh inning. The crooked number was powered by a three-run home run before Hayden Johns came on and extinguished the flames. Utah Valley tacked on two more runs in the eighth inning to further the lead.
Trailing 14-8 as the game went to the ninth, the hopes seemed bleak for the NM State ball club. Nonetheless, the Aggies put together one of the most impressive comebacks in school history. Three of the first four batters reached via extra-base hits, including a two-run home run from Preston Godfrey. Cal Villareal and Kilgore followed with back-to-back base knocks before Dieter lifted a sacrifice fly to bring Gunner Antillon to the plate as the tying run.
Antillon walked before Gallina brought the Aggies back within a run with an RBI single – his fifth RBI of the night. Kevin Jimenez put the Aggies on top with a two-out single that scored that fall between a trio of Wolverines. Jimenez was thrown out trying to stretch it to a double but NM State took the lead and handed the ball to Alex Bustamante.
As Bustamante climbed the hill, NM State sat just three outs away from a miraculous victory on Thursday night. In his first year as an Aggie, Bustamante has experienced the highs and lows of being a relief pitcher but secured the crucial victory with two flyouts and a strikeout. With Thursday's victory, the Aggies sit just one win away from securing a spot in the WAC Baseball Tournament in Mesa.
The Aggies and Wolverines will once again square off on Friday night beginning at 6:05 p.m. MT. All of the action can be found on ESPN+ as the Aggies can clinch a bid to the WAC Baseball Tournament.
For complete coverage of NM State baseball throughout the Aggies 2022 campaign visit NMStateSports.com - the official home of Aggie athletics - and follow the Aggies on Facebook (NM State Baseball), Twitter (@NMStateBaseball), and Instagram (@NMStateBaseball).