This archived article was written by: Shaun Peterson
USU Eastern baseball continued their hot play over the past two weekends going 3-5 against tough conference foes Salt Lake Community College and the College of Southern Nevada. Coach Madsen said, “The team has worked extremely hard and it is showing with how we have played the past two weekends. It has been a whole team effort. Good pitching, fielding and hitting against two good teams. The team did so many great things and I am excited to see what happens over the next two weekends.”
In their first series against SLCC, the offense got off to a blazing start after Austin Geurtsen and Bennett Bradford got things started with a pair of singles. Taylor Nielson plated Geursten with a double, but the Eagles weren’t done. Jordan Mellen and Cooper Thorpe added doubles of their own, which gave them an early five-run lead. The Eagles never looked back after that as they scored six more runs including a five-run sixth for the 11-5 win. Jayce Hill continued his great pitching as he went five and two-thirds, giving up eight hits, five runs and striking out five. Nielson went 2-4 with two doubles and Bryce Blackburn went 2-4 with a double and a triple to lead the way for the Eagles.
The Bruins had their own offensive outburst in game two as they plated 13 runs, including a seven-run fifth inning to run rule the Eagles 13-3. The Eagles produced four hits, and the pitchers struggled to find the strike zone walking 13 Bruins. Luke Christensen went 1-3 with a triple.
The Eagles sent Sean Hardman to the mound looking to bounce back from the tough loss, and he turned in a solid performance as he went four innings without allowing a run and striking out two. The Eagles hitters were able to take advantage of some miscues by the Bruins as they committed two errors in the first inning allowing the Eagles to score two runs. They plated two more runs in the third and the bullpen was able to hold off the Bruins for the 4-3 victory. Greg Money who is hitting .344 on the season led they way for the Eagles going 3-3 with a pair of singles and a double.
The trend continued for the final game of the series as the Bruins once again run ruled the Eagles 8-0 for the series split. Bradford was solid for the Eagles going five and two-thirds allowing three runs, but the bullpen could not contain the Bruins as they were charged with five earned runs. Geursten led the way with a pair of hits.
The Eagles then took on the Southern Nevada Coyotes and came out flat to start the series as they dropped the first game 10-1 as the hitting and pitching struggled for the Eagles. The Coyotes out-hit the Eagles nine to two in the dominating win.
Game two proved to be the most interesting in the series. The Coyotes sent Phil Bickford to the mound, who is a projected first-round draft pick with a fastball in the mid 90s. The Eagles sent Jayce Hill to the mound, who has been the Eagles hottest pitcher as of late. The two didn’t disappoint. Bickford shut down the Eagles for four innings, striking out nine, but exited the ball game because of his pitch count. Hill was able to go the distance for the complete game, scattering five hits without allowing a run. With the game tied at zero going into the bottom of the seventh, the Eagles still hadn’t recorded a hit. Greg Money lead off the inning, getting hit by a pitch. Sean Hardman then came in to pinch-run and reached second after a sac bunt. After a strikeout, Blackburn came up with two outs and hit a slow ground ball to shortstop Cain Brady, who’s throw was wide. Blackburn avoided the tag. With a heads up, base-running Hardman was able to
score to give the Eagles a 1-0 victory without recording a single hit.
Game three was another tight contest as both teams scored two runs in the second inning. The game was tight until the top of the sixth inning as the Coyotes were able to take advantage of a leadoff walk and plate one more run and take the game 3-2. Bradford was once again impressive on the mound, going five and two-thirds, giving up two earned runs and striking out three. Money and Geurtsen had the only two hits for the Eagles.
Game four was an important game for the Eagles. It was the last home game of the season and the team wanted to end with a win. Down 4-0, the Eagles were able to rally for six runs scoring two in the fourth and four in the fifth to retake the lead, but the bullpen couldn’t hold onto the lead as the Coyotes had a huge five-run eighth to spoil the Eagles last home game, taking the final game of the series 9-6. Sophomores Thorpe, Cooper Beck, Shaun Peterson and Blackburn all had two hits to lead the Eagles.