Spartan Comeback Falls Short. SJSU Loses 10-9

A San Jose State rally from six runs down fell short, and the No. 1 seed was knocked out of the tournament 10-9 by No. 4 New Mexico State. The Spartans had earlier knocked off No. 2 seed Louisiana Tech 14-3.

San Jose State had made the comeback an art form during the latter part of the season. However, Saturday night would not see another edition as the Spartans fell 10-9 to New Mexico State, ending their run in the Napa Auto Parts WAC Tournament at Les Murakami Stadium in Honolulu Hawaii.

Senior righthander Tyler Heil took the mound for SJSU, and senior righty Sebastian Vendetter had the honors for NMSU.

New Mexico State started off quietly. Senior Richard Stout flied out to left to kick things off, then junior Nate Shaver walked, but that's as far as it got for the Aggies as senior Jeffery Farnham grounded to short for the double play.

The Spartans picked up where they left off at the last game, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first. Sophomore Jason Martin led off with a single to left-center, and went to second when senior John Shaffer dinked a grouder back to Vendette. Senior Kyle Bellows brought Martin home with a single to right. The Spartans shortstop went to third on junior Corey Valine's single to right. After senior Jacob Bruns struck out, Bellows scored on a wild pitch, and Valine went to second. Valine went to third on another wild pitch, and sophomore Danny Steinstra was hit by a pitch. Sophomore Craig Hertler got Valine home with a single to right, and went to second on the throw home. That was it for SJSU as senior Anthony Aguilers struck out to end the inning.

NMSU went down in order in the top of the second. Senior Bryan Marquez grounded out to short, junior Mike Shodders flied out to right, and junior Wade Reynoso struck out swinging.

Vendette continued his wild ways as he led off the bottom of the second by hitting freshman Michael Reisling. Martin sacrificed Reiling to third on a bunt down the third base line, and Shaffer reached on an infield single to short, with Reiling going to third. Bellows got Reiling home with a sacrifice fly to right. Valine ended the inning with a fly ball to NMSU junior Nate Shaver in right.

Heil once again sent NMSU down in order in the top of the third. Junior Leo Aguirre grounded to first, and junior Kyle Decater and senior Justin Lucero struck out.

Bruns led off the bottom of the third by striking out swinging on a 2-2 pitch. Vendette continued his wildness when he pegged Steinstra for the second time in as many innings, and the third time a Spartan batter was hit by the senior right hander. Hertler followed with a single to right-center that got Steinstra to third. The Spartans called the squeeze play but Aguilera bunted right back to Vendette, who tagged Steinstra out at home. Hertler moved to second. Reiling ended things by striking out on a 2-2 pitch.

Heil opened the fourth by with a little wildness of his own by walking Stout, who then  moved to second on a wild pitch. He settled down to get Shaver out on striked, then Farnham to ground out to second. Stout went to third on the play, and scored when Marquez singled up the middle on a 1-1 pitch. Sodders followed that up with another single up the middle, moving Marquez to second. NMSU loaded the bases when Reynoso reached safely on a nubber to Valine at third. NMSU tied the score when Aguirre doubled to right, bringing in Marquez, Sodders, and Reynoso. Heil then walked Decater on four pitches. Lucero then hit a grounder to third, forcing Aquirre to end the inning.

Vendette put the Spartans down in order in the bottom of the fourth. Martin grounded out to Marquez at short to lead off. Then Shaffer followed that with a pop-up to second and Bellows flied out to left.

Stout led off the inning and walked for the second-straight time. Shaver popped up to second on an 0-2 pitch, and Farnham put down a bunt-single. NMSU took the lead when Marquez singled to left, scoring Stout. The Aggies weren't done as Sodders singled up the middle, scoring Farnham from second. Reynoso then knocked in Marquez and Sodders with a double to left-center, putting the Aggies up 8-4. Sophomore Luke Mazzanti came on in relief of Heil. Aquirre flied out to left. Reynoso tagged and moved to third. Decater then cleared the bases with a home run over the right field fence. Lucero grounded back to Mazzanti to end the carnage.

Valine flied out to right to open the SJSU half of the fifth. Sophomore Breyon Canez pinch hit for Bruns and and walked. Steinstra then grounded into a double play.

Canez went in to the game for Bruns at right field.

Mazzanti tamed the NMSU bats in the sixth by putting them down in order. Stout opened his third inning of the game grounding out to third, followed by groundouts by Shaver and Farnham.

Hertler began the bottom of the sixth by striking out swinging at a 3-2 pitch. Aguilera followed up with a single to left. Reiling reached safely on a pop-up bunt down the third base side, and the bases loaded up when Martin singled through the right side. Aguilera scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Shaffer. Bellows grounded out to second to end the Spartan scoring.

Marquez opened the NMSU seventh by grounding out the third. Sodders then doubled to left-center Reynoso grounded out to short, and Sodders was held at second. Aguirre walked on four-straight pitches, but the inning ended with Decater flying out to center.

Valine led off the Spartan half of the seventh with a single to center. Canez hit a grounder to second, forcing Valine out. Steinstra brought Canez home with a double to right center. Senior Frankie Duran came in to relieve Vendette and struck out Hertler, then got Aquilera to ground out to short.

Freshman Craig Broussard came on to relieve Mazzanti in the top of the eighth. Broussard made nine appearances during the regular season and carries an ERA of 3.75. He sent the Aggies down in order, beginning with striking out Lucero swinging. Stout then popped up an 0-2 pitch to Aguilera, and Shaver grounded out to second.

Junior Daniel Reyes took the mound for NMSU in the bottom of the eighth. Reiling singled to the left side, bringing up the top of the order for the Spartans, trailing by four runs. Martin reached safely after an error by Marquez at short, and SJSU had runners on first and second with nobody out. Shaffer grounded out to short. Reiling and Martin moved to third and second, respectively. Freshman right hander Scott Coffman came in to pitch to Kyle Bellows, who hit a fly ball deep enough to right to score Reiling and cut the Aggie lead to three. Martin went to third. Valine then got Martin home with a single to center field. Canez kept the rally alive with a single through the right side, and Steinstra came to the plate as the go-ahead run. Senior Tommy Gale came in to run for Canez. The Spartans loaded the bases when Steinstra was hit by a pitch. Freshman right hander Justin Cooper then came in to pitch for NMSU, who walked Hertler, scoring Valine. Aguilera stalled the rally a run short of tying the game when he struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch.

Tommy Gale went into right field for the Spartans., replacing Canez.

Farnham led off the top of the ninth by striking out on three pitches. Marquez reached first on a walk. He stole second as Sodders swung at strike three for out No. 2. Reynoso flied out to right to end the inning.

Senior right hander Jacob Wilson was the sixth Aggie pitcher of the game. Sophomore Chace Perkins went to left field for NMSU, replacing Aguirre. After Reiling popped up to second for the first out of the Spartan half of the ninth, San Jose State brought the top of its order to the plate in Jason Martin, who struck out swinging. The game ended when Shaffer also struck out swingin on an 3-2 pitch.

Tyler Heil took the loss for SJSU, Sebastian Vendette notched the win for NMSU.

New Mexico State moves on to face Fresno State in the tournament final on Sunday. NMSU needs to win once against the Bulldogs. FSU needs to take two.

San Jose State will need to wait until Monday in order to find out if their season will continue. The NCAA Championship Selection Show will be broadcast beginning at 9:30 a.m., on ESPN.

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