MESA, Ariz. – Mark Krueger homered and Jackson Cofer pitched into the eighth inning as Utah Valley University held off New Mexico State 3-2 on Thursday to move on to the WAC Tournament semifinal game.
The Wolverines (35-21) have won a season-high five straight and will face either Seattle U or Sacramento State on Friday at 8 p.m. MT at Hohokam Stadium.
Krueger hit a two-run home run in the fourth, his sixth of the season, and Cofer pitched 7.1 innings and allowed just one run on eight hits while striking out a season-high eight batters.
"What a great job by Jackson Cofer. I thought our guys were tough throughout the day. We faced a good arm and they're a very good club," said UVU coach Eric Madsen. "I'm really pleased with how we battled and are playing right now."
Kyle Valgardson notched his ninth save of the season, retiring the side in order in the ninth with a pair of strikeouts. He got Jaron Balman swinging to end the game to defeat the No. 2-seed Aggies (32-22). N.M. State will face CSU Bakersfield on Friday at noon MT in an elimination game.
Cofer escaped a jam in the first inning when New Mexico State had runners at first and third and nobody out. He got a shallow fly ball to right, a foul out, and a strikeout to keep the Aggies off the board.
With one out in the fourth, Craig Brinkerhof walked before Krueger's home run gave the Wolverines a 2-0 lead. A two-out base hit by Jordan Schlehuber later in the inning scored Jake Atkinson and gave Utah Valley a 3-0 lead.
In the seventh, the Aggies put runners on the corners with no outs and for the second time, Cofer escaped unscathed. He got a strikeout and then coaxed Brent Sakurai to hit into an inning-ending 6-5-3 double play. New Mexico State got on the board with two in the eighth.
Schlehuber had three hits and an RBI. Krueger and Brinkerhoff both added two hits for UVU.
WCC TOURNAMENT: At Stockton, Calif., the BYU Cougars faced Gonzaga in a late first-round WCC Tournament game. At press time, the Cougars trailed/led the Zags xx-xx. In an earlier game, Saint Mary's edged Pepperdine 8-7. The Cougars will play either at 1 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. MT on Friday.