NM State baseball swept by Bellarmine to open the New Season: ‘Good Wake Up Call’ 

Connor Moreno

More stories from Connor Moreno


David Castaneda

Outfield Damone Hale runs back towards second base. Feb. 18, 2023.

The defending WAC champs, New Mexico State (0-3), started off their season with a three-game series against Bellarmine University (3-0). The Bellarmine bats were hot all weekend, scoring 25 runs in three games, and froze the Aggies with strong pitching for most of the series. NMSU was working out the kinks all weekend and competed well in the third game which was an 11-inning nail-biter0 that they would eventually drop to get swept in their opening series to the Knights. 

The day one starter on the mound for the Aggies was Cochise College transfer, Treyjen Meza. Prior to coming to Las Cruces, Meza took home the NJCAA Division I Rawlings Gold Glove after finishing with a 14-3 record while posting an ERA of 2.99.  

But before that, football head coach, Jerry Kill, threw out the opening day first pitch for the Aggies, painting the outside of the zone for a strike.  

Game One: 7-2 Bellarmine | W: Pender, Nolan (1-0), L: Meza, Treyjen (0-1) 

The Knights opened the game with a pop, homering twice in their first three at-bats and tacking on three more runs in the 3rd inning. Couple that with Bellarmine pitcher, Nolan Pender, shoving for six shutout innings and 11 strikeouts. The Aggies couldn’t find the right approach at the plate, having only four batters reach on 33 at-bats, and would only score on Bellarmine errors in the bottom of the 8th. The final score in game one was 7-2 in favor of the visitors giving New Mexico State an opening-day loss.  

Game Two: 8-1 Bellarmine | W: Buhr, Drew (1-0), L: Hoeft, Tyler (0-1) 

Tyler Hoeft, by way of Washington State, took the mound for the Aggies in the second game of the series on Saturday. The Knights continued their momentum from the night prior and saw the ball well off the NM State pitchers all game. The Aggies showed improved ability to get on base this game and were even aggressive on the base paths, stealing second base three times. However, they struggled mightily to put the ball in play with runners in scoring position, going 0-9 in such opportunities. NMSU would have gotten shut out this game if it weren’t for Gunner Antillon going deep in the 9th for the NM States first home run of the season. It would be an 8-1 loss to Bellarmine to go drop the first two games of the season.  

Game Three: 10-9 Bellarmine | W: Craven, Matt (1-0), L: Maloney, Matthew (0-1) 

NMSU catcher Nick Gore takes practice swings awaiting to face a Bellarmine pitcher during Saturday’s game at Presley Askew Field on Feb. 18, 2023. (David Castaneda )

The teams met on a gloomy Sunday afternoon to close out the series. The man at the mound for the Aggies was lefty, Hayden Walker. NMSU came into the final game with a much sharper approach at the plate than the prior two. First basemen, Logan Gallina, had himself a day going 3-4 at the plate for two RBIs and two Runs. However, Bellarmine stayed consistent in the box and added four more home runs to their series total of 10. While the bats woke up this game for the Aggies, it was looking like another lopsided loss halfway through the game until they strung together some runs and cut the lead to one before the final frame. After a couple of walks and a sac-bunt, the Antillons would connect as Hunter’s sacrifice fly brought Gunner in for the tying run to send the game into extra innings. Bellarmine’s Peyton Back would be the hero, though, as a single to left field would bring in the go-ahead run in the 11th inning to complete the sweep over New Mexico State with a 10-9 win. 

“You have to give some credit to [Bellarmine’s] guys,” coach Mike Kirby said when asked about their struggles at the plate for much of the series. “This is baseball, you know, and luckily we play 55 games, or so… a good wake up call for the boys.” 

NM State found some promise in Logan Gallina and center fielder, Damone Hale. Gallina led the way on the plate, batting .400 in all contests to go along with a 1.133 OPS. Looking under control in the batter’s box and superbly aggressive running the bases, Hale was able to muster up three walks and go 4-4 on steal attempts. Their effort was integral in giving the rest of the lineup opportunities. 

New Mexico State now travels to Sugar Land, Texas to participate in the Sugar Land classic. The Aggies will take on Lamar, Northwestern State and Seton Hall during the Feb. 24-26 weekend in hopes to bounce back and attain winning form. 

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