Weekend split in ‘Swing into Spring’
Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 14:03
The Utah State baseball club continued to shake off their winter rust over the weekend, going 2-2 at the Swing into Spring tournament in Mesquite, Nev.
“We had hoped to go and win four games down in the Swing into Spring tournament in Mesquite,” said head coach Norm Doyle. “We ended up winning two and losing two, but we really played well all four games.”
Club president Garrett Schiffman also felt the team gave a solid effort each time on the field against four tough opponents.
“When you’re No. 1, everybody’s kind of gunning for you,” Schiffman said. “We have some improvements to make, but we’re right on track to where we want to be. We were in every game that we played, and sometimes the ball didn’t roll our way.”
First baseman Jordan Hansen said the Aggies are happy with what they learned.
“It gave us a good look at where we’re at,” Hansen said. “It’s early in the season, so no one’s hitting the panic button.”
Schiffman was especially pleased with the play of infielder/pitcher Andrew Shawkey and shortstop Brandon Peterson.
“Shawkey hit the ball really well,” Schiffman said. “I was really impressed with his plate appearances and his mettle to drive the ball and bring runners in. That was crucial of him.”
The Aggies fell to UC Santa Cruz on Thursday 4-2. Utah State jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the third inning with an RBI from Schiffman. UC Santa Cruz closed strong, however, with a four-run sixth inning and held on for the victory.
Doyle said one bad pitch ruined an otherwise stellar performance by pitcher Sixto Cabrera in a game the coach felt they should have won.
“Our starting pitcher threw one bad pitch that game and it ended up being a three-run home run,” Doyle said. “That cost us.”
The Aggies then pulled off their first two victories of the season Friday. Utah State pummeled Western Washington in the first game 14-3, led by Shawkey’s three RBIs.
“That was the first time this year that we really played how we’re capable of playing and how we played last year,” Doyle said.
Utah State followed up with a 5-2 victory over Montana. The Aggies held a slight lead for the majority of the contest until opening things up in the bottom of the sixth inning with three runs. Pitcher Jaren Tyler went the full seven innings, giving up only four hits.
“Some really good timely hitting. Guy came through in the clutch, exceptional pitching,” Doyle said.
Saturday saw a major comeback against a tough Oregon squad, but Utah State eventually fell 11-10. The Ducks scored nine first inning runs before relief pitcher Tyler Berry was brought in and shut them down for the rest of the contest. The Aggies reeled off runs in five of the next seven innings, including a four-run effort in the sixth that tied the game.
“A 9-0 lead is not impossible but it’s very difficult, tough to come back on,” Doyle said. “I was really proud of the guys how they did it.”
Oregon struck back in the bottom half of the sixth with two runs of their own and the Aggies were unable to finish the comeback.
“We had the tying run at second base with no outs but we just couldn’t get him in,” Hansen said. “That was a good game for our team, showed a lot of character about what we can do.”
Doyle thought the Oregon game was important for the team’s progression.
“Biggest thing we’re going to take away from this is knowing that no matter what we’re never really out of a game,” Doyle said. “We know we can beat them. If we see them in the region tournament, they’re going to have some doubts.”