The Utah State University Eastern baseball team closed the Manny Guerra Memorial Border Battle tournament with a win in walk-off fashion against Gateway Community College. The final score of the game played at Green Valley High School was 12-11.
The nine-inning game featured a huge offensive explosion from the Eagles. They made their way through the batting lineup in the first inning, scoring seven runs in the frame. Responding to the two runs given up to GCC by starting pitcher Karter Pope in the top of the first, the seven-run inning was exactly what the Eagles needed to propel themselves to victory. USU Eastern had six hits and two walks as they batted around in the first inning.
This wasn’t the only bit of excitement that happened in the game. After some back and forth scoring, the Eagles found themselves down by one run entering the bottom of the eighth inning. Freshman Ryder Peterson quickly rose to the occasion and answered back with a towering home run over the right field wall, knotting the score at 11 apiece.
Freshman Reed Carter got the call to navigate the top of the ninth inning with the score tied. Carter got out of a jam after surrendering a lead-off double with a strikeout and two straight pop-ups. The latter of the two pop-ups had an interesting outcome when it was dropped, but a GCC runner tried to advance to home plate on the play and was thrown out trying to advance.
The bottom of the ninth inning started with Drew Staley drawing a hit by pitch followed by a walk from Kaden Kunz and then a sacrifice bunt turned base hit by Ethan Udy. The stage was set with bases loaded and zero outs for Dawson Hall. He connected on the first pitch on a ground ball that was misplayed by a GCC infielder that led to the first victory of the young season for the Eagles.
“The first of many,” said head coach Kirk Haney to his undoubtedly excited team postgame. The victory not only marked the first of the season but the first of coach Haney’s career.
Notable performers in the game: Udy was 3-6 with one RBI. Peterson was 3-5 with two RBIs and a HR. Kunz was 3-4 with two 3B’s, a 2B and three RBIs.
USU Eastern will be back in action as they again travel south to play a four-game series against Cochise College in Douglas, Arizona. The series is scheduled for two double-headers on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 7 and 8.