Eagles finish first half of conference play

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The Utah State University Eastern baseball team wrapped up the first half of conference play the last weekend in March and the first weekend in April. USUE played Western Nevada College March 24-25 and Colorado Northwestern Community College April 1-2.

In the first half of the season, the Eagles played each team in the Scenic West Athletic Conference in a four-game series, and beaten each team at least once in each series.

Against WNC, the Eagles lost the first three games, but bounced back to win game four by a score of 8-5. WNC was tied for first place in the SWAC coming into the series and bumped down to second place after the loss in game four. Kaidyn Longman earned the win on the mound against WNC for USUE.

Bright spots offensively for the Eagles in the series were Zac Lundell, six hits and two RBIs; Nathan Hedberg, four hits and one RBI; Cory McKendrick, four hits and four RBIs and Manny Begay, two hits including a homerun.

The Eagles split the series against CNCC, losing the first two games on Friday and winning the last two on Saturday.

Coach Scott Madsen said, “One of the key things for us moving forward will be consistency. We played poorly on Friday and exceptional on Saturday against CNCC. In the second half of the season if we prove to be more consistent, we will put ourselves in situations to win every ball game.”

USUE came out flat on day one of the CNCC series, but day two was a day full of exciting finishes and great baseball. In game three the Eagles were down 4-0 at the end of the second inning. After two-straight scoreless innings, the Eagles scored from an RBI single from Brandon Eyring to bring the score to 4-1.

CNCC tacked on one more run in the fourth to make it 5-1 in favor of CNCC. The Eagles came storming back in the fifth inning and scored four runs to tie the game at 5-5.

The game had a thrilling end, with the allotted amount of seven innings not being enough to settle the tie. Moving into extra innings, Trevor Sanders came in to pitch the top of the eighth inning and struck out all three batters retiring the side.

In the bottom of the eighth with one out for the Eagles, Reggie Gates drew a walk. After an error from CNCC, Gates advanced to third base with still only one out. McKendrick was at the plate and drove in Gates with a single to left field to win the game for the Eagles.

Sanders earned the win on the mound in game three, and Longman started and won game four. The team improved to seven and 13 in conference play. USUE was led offensively in the series by several players who came up with key base hits. Austin Geurtsen had five hits, Begay five hits and an RBI, Will Bierlein four hits and Eyring two hits and four RBIs.

USUE begins the second half of conference play as they take on Salt Lake Community College on April 8-9. Before game four of the series, the Eagles will honor the sophomores on the team, as these will be the last home games. Day one games will begin at 1 p.m. and day two will begin at noon. All games will be played at Colosimo-Carlson Ballpark located at 1050 North 1100 East in Price.

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