LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley baseball team scored seven runs in the first inning and never looked back in a 21-11, eight-inning victory over New Mexico State on Saturday at Presley Askew Field.
UTRGV (30-16, 15-5 WAC) is now alone in first place in the Western Athletic Conference, one game ahead of NM State (32-12, 14-6 WAC) and Sacramento State (14-6 WAC), which won at Northern Colorado 15-10.
The 21 runs are the most scored by UTRGV since March 7, 2010 in a 23-7 home win over Louisiana Tech. UTRGV last scored 20+ runs in a road game on May 11, 2009, with 22 at Northern Colorado. This is the most runs UTRGV has ever scored in a conference game. The previous record was 20 at Jacksonville on April 12, 1997.
The 32 combined runs make this the highest-scoring conference game UTRGV has been a part of since April 19, 1991, in an 18-15 win at Arkansas State as part of the American South Conference.
UTRGV now has 30 wins in a season for the first time since 2012 (30-22). This is the first time UTRGV has had 30 wins through 46 games since 1988 (30-16).
This is the first time UTRGV has ever had 15 conference wins after 20 conference games.
Over the past three games, UTRGV has now scored 40 runs, an average of 13.33 per game.
UTRGV only allowed NM State starter Justin Dehn (7-3) to record one out as after junior Coleman Grubbs opened the game with a single, junior Christian Sepulveda launched his ninth home run of the season. Two hits and a walk loaded the bases for freshman Vela alum Aaron Galvan, who hit a two-run single. One out later, sophomore Mercedes alum Oliver Closner IV singled to reload the bases and knock out Dehn. Sophomore Jacob Hirsh followed with an RBI-groundout and then Grubbs capped the inning with a two-run single.
UTRGV extended its lead to 9-0 in the second on an RBI-double by junior Tyler Torres and a Galvan groundout.
NM State got its first run in the bottom of the inning on a Tristan Peterson single.
UTRGV pushed its lead to 12-1 in the third on an RBI-groundout by senior Anthony Gomez and a two-run single by junior Conrado Diaz.
Logan Ehnes and Peterson drew bases loaded walks in the bottom of the inning to make the score 12-3.
Gomez lifted a sacrifice fly and Torres belted a two-run home run, his second of the season, to give UTRGV a 15-3 lead in the fifth.
In the bottom of the inning, though, Nick Gonzales and Peterson each hit two-run home runs against sophomore Max Balderrama Jr. (6-0) to make the score 15-7.
Joey Ortiz came up with an RBI-groundout in the sixth to make the score 15-8.
Torres answered with a two-run single in the seventh to put UTRGV up 17-8.
Kevin Jimenez hit a three-run double in the seventh to make it a six-run game, but Grubbs hit a three-run home run and Galvan hit a sacrifice fly to push the game out of reach in the eighth.
Diaz finished with the first five-hit game of his career, going 5-for-6 with two RBI and a career-high three runs scored. Grubbs went a career-best 4-for-5, with a walk, a career-high five RBI and a career-high four runs scored. Torres went 3-for-4 with two walks, a career-high five RBI and two runs scored. Galvan had a career-high four RBI with one run scored. Gomez went 2-for-3 with two walks, two RBI and a career-high four runs scored. Sepulveda finished 2-for-5 with a walk, two RBI and three runs scored. Closner went 3-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored.
UTRGV and New Mexico State wrap up this series at 11 a.m. Sunday.