Photo by Jeff Barrett
With just two series left in the regular season, USU Eastern took a trip to Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) to take on the conference-leading Bruins in a four-game series. Heading into the series, the Eagles sat two games behind the College of Southern Nevada (CSN) for third place in the SWAC. CSN swept Colorado Northwestern last week while Eastern was victim of a sweep that ensured USUE the fourth spot in the conference.
Eastern struggled in its series with SLCC to generate offense as the Eagles scored just six runs total in the four games. Things looked promising for the Eagles in the first game as they took a quick 2-0 lead after three innings. Kaden Kunz and Vaughn Deming drove in the early runs. This, however, would be the last offensive threat in the game as Eastern would fall 10-2 to the Bruins.
Ky Decker got the start on the mound for USUE, and had flashes of a quality start, but ultimately surrendered five runs on five hits in 4.2 innings. Westin Corless made another appearance on the mound and tossed 1.1 innings and allowed five runs on just three hits. Decker and Corless combined for five strikeouts and each had two walks.
Game two was dominated by SLCC from beginning to end in a 10-0 rout of USUE. The Eagles managed just two hits, including a double by Payton Norman. Hayden Brock started the game on the bump for Eastern and lasted 5.0 innings. Brock allowed six runs, five earned, on six hits. While Brock was able to strike out four, but he was hurt by seven walks and two hit batters. Nate Rhineer came into the game in the sixth inning and allowed four runs on five hits as the Bruins closed out the run-rule win.
The Eagles had their best chance to take at least one game from the Bruins in game three, but eventually fell 7-4 in a closely contested game. SLCC quickly jumped out to a five-run lead in the second inning. The fourth inning saw the best flash of life for Eastern as Dakari Armendariz and Payton Norman each hit a two-run home run to cut the Bruin lead to one, 5-4.
SLCC closed the game out in the fourth and fifth with two more runs to secure their third win of the series. Kody Nelson threw the entirety of the game on the mound for Eastern and allowed seven runs on nine hits. Walk problems for the Eastern pitchers continued as Nelson allowed five walks compared to just four strikeouts.
Game four had the same feel as game two as Eastern was unable to avoid the sweep, falling 10-0 in five innings. The run-rule loss saw just one hit in the entire game, a double by Vaughn Deming. The Eagles also had four errors that allowed six-unearned runs in three innings. Carson Hawkes got the start on the mound and allowed just one earned run in 3.0 innings on three hits. Riley Ashton came into the game in the fourth inning and eventually gave up the final three runs to secure SLCC’s run-rule victory.
This week marks the final week of regular season baseball for the Eagles. USUE welcomes the CSN Coyotes for the regular-season finale. First pitch will be thrown from Carlson-Colosimo Field at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 5.