Gabriella Jimenez

Utah State catcher Gabriella Jimenez throws the ball to first base against Nevada earlier this season. Jimenez had a big day last Saturday in the Aggies’ season finale.

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It certainly was a celebration Saturday at LaRee & LeGrand Johnson Field.

The Aggies enjoyed Senior Day to the fullest. They capped off a season that saw many highs with a 6-5 comeback victory against Mountain West Conference foe San Jose State.

With the win, USU (28-28, 13-11 MW) locked up a winning season in league play and won the series against the Spartans (22-29, 7-17), 2-1. In fact, the Aggies went 4-4 in conference series this season and finished in fourth place in the nine-team league.

“It was great,” USU head coach Steve Johnson said in a press release. “We’ve been battling trying to get that winning season, that .500 season.”

The 2022 USU squad continued to leave its mark in the history books as two Aggies set single-season records on Saturday. Senior catcher Gabriella Jimenez added to her single-season home run record to bring her total to 15. The homer marked her 49th RBI of the year, which ranks first all-time on the program’s single-season record list.

Junior center fielder Mazie Macfarlane scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth, marking her 46th run scored in 2022 to rank first on the single-season record list.

The duo joined senior shortstop Lexi Orozco and senior right fielder Bri Lerma at the top of USU records. Orozco finished her Aggie career ranking first in RBIs (138) and slugging percentage (.631), and tied for first in home runs (39). Lerma set the program single-season hit by pitch record after being hit 15 times this season.

Jimenez got the scoring started for the Aggies Saturday with solo home run to left field in the bottom of the first.

The Spartans responded a couple of innings later with a five-run frame in the top of the third for a 5-1 advantage.

USU shortened the margin to 5-3 in the bottom of the third. Jimenez drew a walk and advanced two bases on another Aggie walk and a fielder’s choice. She made it the final 60 feet on a fielder’s choice. Sophomore second baseman Zaia Castruita scored USU’s second run of the inning on a RBI single from senior left fielder Emily Tidd.

“We started off hot again with another home run,” Johnson said. “We got down there, but just like we’ve talked all year about taking it inning by inning, pitch by pitch and being resilient. They just kept battling back.”

After junior first baseman Makenzie Macfarlane drew a walk in the bottom of the fifth, Tidd stepped up to the plate and tied the game at 5-5 with a two-run home run to center field.

“I was just trying to put the bat on the ball,” Tidd said. “I do my best when I go up and don’t think. I just went up there not thinking. I normally swing at the first pitch, and I swung at the first pitch. It was right there and I took it right back up the middle.”

Mazie Macfarlane scored the game-winning run after drawing a walk in the bottom of the sixth. She advanced to second when Orozco drew a walk and scored on a Castruita RBI single.

“You saw the work from everybody, from the top of the order to the bottom of the order,” Johnson said. “People got things done. They did it for each other and that’s what you like to see in these moments.”

The leadoff Spartan batter in the top of the seventh drew a walk, but the Aggies retired the next three in order to end the season with a victory.

Senior Kapri Toone pitched her ninth complete game of the season, striking out two, walking four and allowing just six hits to earn the 32nd victory of her career.

USU finished with eight hits and an error. Jimenez and Tidd had two hits each. Tidd led the team with three RBIs. Mazie Macfarlane drew three bases on balls, and Orozco walked twice.

USU celebrated Senior Day following the win as the Aggies honored their six seniors: Jimenez, Lerma, Orozco, Sydnee Smith, Tidd and Toone.

Shawn Harrison is the sports editor at The Herald Journal. He can be reached at sharrison@hjnews.com or 435-792-7233.

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