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Baseball season opener in Arizona
Posted Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 12:18pm

 It must be spring because the USU Eastern Eagles are back in action for the 2013 baseball season. The snow is melting and the players are back outside on the field where they opened their season in Yuma, Ari., last weekend, dropping all four games. 

Head Coach Scott Madsen stated, «I feel this season is going to be a positive one for the players.  They are a good group of men that work well together. «

The Eagles’ season opener was at The Caballero Classic over the weekend of Feb. 1-2.  Their first game was on Friday against Arizona Western College, a top program in the country. AW beat the Golden Eagles in both games. 

Eastern players could not get a grip on AW pitchers. The team only totaled four hits by Kyle King, Tayson Wilson, Denver Hansen and Bailey Thomas.  Arizona scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. They then held the Eagles in the top of the seventh to end the game early due to the 13-0 lead (10-run mercy rule). 

Coach Madsen said, «That first game was an eye opener for the team, they were a little in shock about being on the field and playing a very talented AW team.  They understood that we are much better than we played that first game.» 

The Eagles played two games against AW the first day and came together better as the day progressed, falling short of the victory by six points. The total hits for the team were nine, and it was spread out evenly across the team.  It seemed like the players couldn›t get their hits out of the infield, but they were able to sneak one run in with a RBI from Chance Abrath which allowed Thomas to cross home plate.

In their third game, The Golden Eagles kept improving and started to turn things around against Gateway, almost sneaking away with a win. Scoring a run in the seventh inning, the Eagles led by one going into the eighth. Despite the team’s best efforts, they couldn›t hold Gateway from scoring and Gateway managed to pull ahead 3-1.

The Eagles fought hard in their second game against Gateway, with a lot of jitters from playing outside for the first time this season subsiding. The game was better, they held Gateway to only three runs, although they weren’t able to get more runs in themselves. In the top of the seventh, they were making a good run for it when Denver Hansen scored on a passed ball which left a runner on second and third base.  Unfortunately they were not able to score those runs, they held the other team to only three runs, but fell short 8-5. 

      Overall the team did well considering this was their first four games this season. Both teams USU Eastern faced were some of the toughest competition in the country.  Coach Madsen said, “We make mistakes, that’s going to happen. The team made great strides throughout the weekend improving in every game.”

KC Smurthwaite, assistant baseball coach said that he saw a lot of positives from the weekend games, but the team still needs to improve in the coming weeks. “Our first three series are against extremely tough teams. If we can improve every game like we did in the Caballero Classic, we will ultimately find success.”

According to Madsen, the team is highly motivated, and they are ready for their next games.  Shortstop for the Eagles, Lucas Madsen, had this to say about the games, “I thought over all, the weekend was good.  We didn’t win any games, which most would consider a failure, but we felt like it was really not a bad weekend.  It was our first time outside this spring. A lot was learned.  I feel like this team could go places from what I saw this last weekend.”

The Golden Eagles fought hard and fell just short of winning some games.  Now with some game time under their belts, the team should play better in the following weeks. The men will next face off with Prairie Baseball Academy, the two-time reigning Canadian national champions in St. George, Utah. The games will be held on the Feb. 22-23. This will allow the team to learn from their mistakes and compete in their next four games.

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