Bronco Rallies Come up Short in Series Opener
LAS CRUCES, N.M.-Two Boise State rallies were not enough against New Mexico State Friday, in Las Cruces, N.M. The Aggies used a walk-off home run in eighth inning to win 11-10 and create a tie atop the Western Athletic Conference softball standings with one day remaining in the regular season.
New Mexico State's Ashley Maroda struck out three times on the day, but with one out in the eighth Maroda drove a pitch over the left-centerfield wall to end the game.
Boise State (32-16, 15-4) scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning to send the game to extra innings. Devon Bridges drew her third walk and Christina Capobianco picked up her second hit of the game to start the rally. A walk to Kelly Sweeney loaded the bases and Vanessa Alvarez delivered a pinch-hit, two-run double to put the tying run in scoring position. That run came around after Tazz Weatherly extended her hitting streak to nine games with a bloop single into right field and the Aggies threw the ball away. Weatherly ended up on third base as the go-ahead run with one out, but was stranded.
Bridges tied a school record with her fourth walk in the top of the eighth, but was retired on a fielder's choice to end the inning.
New Mexico State (38-15, 15-4) got to Bronco starter Aubray Zell early, taking a 5-0 lead in the second inning. The Aggies loaded the bases in the first before Zell struck out the final two batters to escape the jam. She was not as elusive in the second.
Kylie Randall's second bunt single of the game loaded the bases again with one out. The Aggies capitalized, scoring on a single, a hit batter, a single, a double and a wild pitch in consecutive at bats.
Holly Bourke picked up Boise State's first hit in the third inning, putting the Broncos on the board with a solo home run to centerfield.
New Mexico State answered with a leadoff homer to chase Zell, the first time the Bronco junior did not toss a complete game in her last nine starts in conference play. Lela Work entered the game and retired the first three batters she faced.
The Broncos took the momentum into the fourth inning, scoring five runs to tie the game. Capobianco and Sweeney blasted back-to-back home runs for the second time this season to draw within two runs. Errors kept the inning alive, even allowing a run to score, and Mackenzie Whyte took advantage. Whyte dumped a single into left center to plate the tying run.
The Aggies took the lead right back in the bottom of the fourth with a two-out, run-scoring double.
Another two-out rally in the sixth inning gave the Aggies a four-run cushion headed to the seventh. New Mexico State scored three unearned runs in the frame to push its lead to 10-6.
The lead was quickly erased with the Broncos' seventh-inning heroics.
Work took the loss for Boise State, pitching the final five and one-third innings. She struck out nine, but surrendered five runs (two earned) on eight hits.
Alex Newman earned the win for New Mexico State. Newman was the starter for the Aggies, lasting three and two-thirds, before returning to the circle for the final in the seventh. In all, she surrendered eight runs (five earned) on seven hits and four walks in five and one-third innings.
The game was not short on offense. Each team had runners on base in every inning, as the Broncos left eight for the game.
Capobianco finished 2-for-3, and now has 12 hits in her last nine games. She was the only Bronco with multiple hits in the game. New Mexico State turned in five multi-hit performances, including a four-hit game from Kandis Jones, as the Aggies out-hit the Broncos 15-8.
The teams will meet again Saturday, to decide the WAC regular-season title. The doubleheader begins at 2 p.m. (MT), from the NM State Softball Complex.
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