This archived article was written by: Shaun Peterson
USU Eastern baseball continued their busy schedule with 10 games in a matter of a week against teams from Nev., Ariz. and Colo. They won two and lost eight.
The team continued SWAC conference play against the College of Southern Nevada for a four-game set on March 5-7.
Game one was a pitcher’s duel as Sean Hardman took the mound for the Eagles and potential first-round-draft pick Phil Bickford was on the mound for the Coyotes. Bickford dominated the Eagles all night with his fastball that was in the mid to upper 90’s. He went six innings, struck out 15 and didn’t allow a hit. Hardman was also impressive not allowing a hit until the fifth inning to keep the game tied at zero.
With some timely hitting, the Coyotes were able to put the game out of reach with two runs in the seventh and three runs in the eighth, stealing the first game 5-0.
Pinch hitter Jordan Mellen broke up the Coyote’s no hitter with a two-out single in the top of the ninth. Hardman went six and two thirds, allowing two runs and striking out five.
Game two was also a close contest as both teams battled back and forth to maintain the lead. In the top of the second, center fielder Austin Geurtsen got it started with a leadoff double, then later scored on a single by left fielder Greg Ashley to give the Eagles the early lead.
After the Coyotes pulled ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the third, Ashley came through with another clutch hit to tie the game at two midway through the fourth, but that was quickly answered as the Coyotes tacked on one more run in the bottom of the inning and held on for a 3-2 victory. Ashley went 2-3 with a pair of RBIs. Mellen also had a pair of hits.
Game three was another seven-inning battle as the Coyotes jumped out to an early lead with three runs in the bottom of the second. The Eagles fought back with two runs in the fourth and one run in the fifth to tie it. The Coyotes broke the tie with a pair of hits and were able to once again hold on to a narrow victory of 5-3. Greg Money and Mellen both had two hits to lead the way for the Eagles.
The Eagles ran out of steam in the final game of the series, as the offense sputtered and the pitching could not contain the Coyotes as they finished the sweep with a 9-1 victory. Eagles were unable to get anything going with only two hits in the ball game.
The team then traveled to Thatcher, Ariz., for a four-game set against Eastern Arizona College. After the Eagles came out flat in Monday’s doubleheader dropping both games, they looked to get back on track in the final two games, but with a series of controversial calls in the third game, coach Scott Madsen was ejected, forcing the Eagles to forfeit the final game, giving the Gila Monsters the four-game sweep.
The Eagles returned home with a two-game series against the Western Colorado Club team. Sophomore Jayce Hill took the mound and threw a perfect game; literally perfect. He did not allow a batter to reach base in five innings while striking out seven, giving the Eagles a 10-0 victory.
Hill said after the game, “I was lucky enough to get to experience something like that and if feels so great. Honestly, I still can’t believe it. The guys were behind me making plays, giving me the opportunity to accomplish it. The win is what matters the most and the perfect game was just a bonus with a complete team effort.”
The bats stayed hot for the Eagles as they belted 10 hits to sweep the two-game series with a 12-2 win.
USU Eastern continues their home stretch with a four-game series on March 20 and 21 against Mesa State University club. Games start at noon with the second following shortly after.