This archived article was written by: Beth Liddell
The last few weeks for the USU Eastern baseball team have been preparing for their upcoming spring season. The men live and breathe baseball. Up at the crack of dawn, their 7 am workouts accompanied by afternoon practices are whipping the players into shape. “I love working out in the mornings- I feel like I can almost beat Denver Hansen in an arm wrestling match,” said player Luke Madsen. Drew Beach exclaims, “I am working on my triceps. They need to be bigger so I can match my roommate.” Between practices and oftentimes after, they can be found sitting in their classes or studying at various locations around campus. But when the weekend rolls around, it’s game time.
Sept. 22, the Colorado All-Stars came to Price for their try against a true collegiate level team. Head Coach Scott Madsen states, “The team played well. Everyone got to play the field multiple innings while at least having one go at bat. It was a good opportunity for the team to get a feel for how the game is supposed to be played with situational hitting.”
Though some may believe it is all about batting average, the “Money Ball” strategy of getting on base is working for our guys. They were able to “do the little things right,” Madsen says. “We kept the pressure on the other team, focused on first getting on base and then stealing bases.” The young All-Stars didn’t stand a chance losing 15-0 followed by 11-0, both in Eastern’s favor. The team held their heads high ready to conquer anyone who dared face them.
Enthusiastic as they may have been prior to Fridays games, the team had an obstacle ahead of them. The Salt Lake City Bruins traveled to Price for an opportunity to claim victory over the USU Eastern Eagles. Unfortunately, it was victory they claimed.
The team had a slow start allowing the Bruins to jump on a quick lead that the Eagles simply could not come back from. Although the USU Eastern pitching staff of Joe Barta, Shayden Poulsen and Chance Abrath did well, Salt Lake took advantage of the errors they were given. The Bruins retaliated with a pitching staff that allowed the Eagles only one run, tallying the final of 11-1.
Game two was evenly matched. The men were able to settle down, get into a groove and compete. Though the level of competition is definitely higher than the weekend before, the team realized they had not only the talent, but also the potential to play with teams of Salt Lake’s caliber. The team was able to hold Salt Lake at a 1-0 lead for the first five innings, but reluctantly gave up eight when minor errors were allowed back into play. Two innings later, the Eagle brought in eight runs of their own but could not pull to the lead.
Eastern lost the second game 11-8 but looks forward to facing the Bruins in conference play. Catcher Brad Morse said, “It was fantastic. It was a good opportunity to see what baseball competition is really like at a collegiate level.”
The Eagles traveled to Grand Junction Colorado to face the All-Stars once more on Sept. 29. Though it was an easy victory, the game was a much needed confidence booster for the team. Once again, circumstance allowed all the players an opportunity to see the field and have a go around at bat if not multiples. Outfielder Bailey Thomas said, “Carpe Diem. ‘At ‘ill do.”
Madsen looks forward to the season with great anticipation. “We have a good group of guys this year. They’re working hard and improving every day both physically and mentally. The team is farther along than we usually are at the time of the year. They know how to play together and stick together.”
Freshman Kyle Durbin shares Madsen’s enthusiasm stating, “I’m super excited! Playing with new friend Luke Madsen is going to be awesome. He’s a great mentor and one day, I am going to be an LK just like him.”
“I love this game. I’m excited and mentoring Kyle is going to be great,” replies Luke.