Photo by Jeff Barrett
By Calvin Jensen
Utah State Eastern baseball kicked off its season in Henderson, Nev. over the weekend in a tournament hosted by the College of Southern Nevada. The Eagles returned home with a 2-2 season starting record. Up first was a doubleheader against GateWay Community College.
In the first of two games, the scoreboard reflected a challenging battle, with GateWay Community College emerging victorious at 8-2. Eastern’s lineup struggled against GateWay’s pitching, managing only three hits throughout the game.
The lone bright spots for USU Eastern came from Hunter Gatti and Preston Jacobson, who each reached base twice and contributed to the team’s two runs. However, the offensive firepower of GateWay, scoring eight runs, proved insurmountable for USU Eastern.
On the mound, Owen Teuscher took the brunt of GateWay’s offensive onslaught, lasting three innings and surrendering seven runs. Tanner Kofoed entered in relief, showing resilience by holding GateWay to just one additional run over the next few innings. Carter Perry closed out the game for USU Eastern, maintaining a clean sheet and momentum for the second game of the doubleheader.
Utah State Eastern bounced back against the Geckos in the second matchup. The offensive onslaught from USU Eastern was led by McGwire Jephson, who delivered an impressive performance with a double, a triple and five RBIs. Zakery Nelson also played a pivotal role, going 3-3 with two RBIs, contributing significantly to USU Eastern’s offensive explosion.
Pitcher Wayland Crane took the mound for Utah State Eastern, earning the win with a solid six innings of work. Crane demonstrated excellent control, striking out 10 batters while allowing only three runs. Jarrett Kenyon closed out the game, ensuring that GateWay Community College couldn’t mount a comeback. The victory not only showcased USU Eastern’s offensive firepower, but also highlighted the pitching strength that will be crucial this season.
As the Manny Guerro Memorial Tournament continued the following day, Eastern faced a tough challenge against Arizona Western College, ultimately falling short in a 16-10 matchup. The high-scoring game showcased a flurry of runs from both teams. Leading the offensive charge for the Eagles were Tyler Nelson, Bodee Goins and Nate Rose, each contributing with crucial hits and RBIs.
USU Eastern committed two errors during the game defensively. Pitcher Micah Del Rio faced a tough outing, enduring six earned runs in just two innings. Despite the early struggles, the bullpen, consisting of Nate Rhineer, Kade Hansen, Usher Henrie and Kyler Hansen, worked collectively to steady the ship at the mound.
In the most anticipated and final contest of the weekend, Utah State Eastern faced seventh ranked Central Arizona College. The Eagles ended the tournament on a high note, emerging victorious over the Vaqueroes in a hard-fought battle, sealing a 4-1 win. A stellar performance from Landon Salvesen earned the win with five solid innings, allowing only two hits and striking out six batters.
Zakery Nelson, leading the offensive charge, had an outstanding day at the plate, going 3-5 with a crucial RBI. McGwire Jephson also played a pivotal role, contributing two doubles and driving in two runs. The Eagles’ effort was complemented by a disciplined approach at the plate, drawing four walks collectively.
The pitching duo of Landon Salvesen and Sam Beck combined for an impressive performance, limiting Central Arizona to just one run on six hits. Salvesen’s ability to control the game early on set the tone for Utah State Eastern, and Beck continued the momentum with a solid four innings of relief.
USU Eastern (2-2, 0-0) will remain in warmer weather as the team travels to Douglas, Arizona to take on Cochise College (1-3, 0-0) in two doubleheaders on Feb. 1 and 2 beginning at 2 p.m. each day.