Eagles lose three of four home games against SLCC
|First baseman Brett Nigbur reaches to tag a Spartan runner. Nigbur is one of CEU's top hitters, with a .317 batting average for the season.|
College of Eastern Utah's baseball team is ranked fifth in the Scenic West Athletic Conference after returning from a series of losses on the road.
Last weekend, the Eagles played Salt Lake Community College at home, losing the first three games 3-7, 3-9 and 2-12. The second game on Saturday, however, was a 2-1 win for CEU.
"You would have thought it was a World Series, the way the team was celebrating their win," said CEU's head coach, Scott Madsen. "But they worked all weekend for that win."
The team lost four conference games each to Community College of Southern Nevada the last week of February and four more to Dixie State the first week of March.
But when the team returned to their home field, they sent Colorado Northwestern Community College home with three losses and a win. The Eagles now have a conference record of 4-12 and an overall record of 5-21 for the season.
Madsen recognizes a change among his hitters. When they played CCSN, the Eagles hit nine balls in four games, compared with 41 by Southern Nevada.
When they played Dixie State, CEU improved that by hitting 18 balls for the weekend, compared with the Rebels' 22.
But when they faced Colorado Northwestern, CEU turned those numbers completely around, hitting with 35 hits in four games, compared to CNCC's 22.
Hitting against SLCC was a critical part of the three losses for the Eagles. On Friday in game one, CEU made seven hits; SLCC had eight. But Eastern Utah was only able to turn three into runs, while SLCC scored seven.
The second game Friday was more poor hitting, as the Eagles hit just two and SLCC hit nine. But when CEU hit six balls in the second game on Saturday, and Salt Lake hit seven, the Eagles took a one-point lead to finish the weekend with a win.
"Our hitters are doing better," said Madsen. He explained that freshman Brett Nigbur was initially the only one on the team that was hitting consistently. But now, the team is coming together and others on the team are hitting better.
Although Nigbur's has hit more balls than anyone on the team, totaling 19 hits for 60 times at bat, others on the team are getting similar averages. Notably, Danny Cornia has hit 16 balls, but he's only been at bat 66 times. What's more, 11 of those hits have turned into runs.
Madsen also pointed out that the team has had a lot of errors. The team leads the conference in errors, with 33 in conference games. The next is CNCC, with 28.
Madsen attributes the relatively poor hitting and number of errors to a mostly freshman team. "We only have three sophomore starters in the field. The rest are freshmen," he explained.
The game average for errors is slowly coming down. CEU made nine errors last weekend against SLCC in four games, while the Bruins made seven of their own.
The week before, against CNCC, the Eagles made four errors, while the Spartans made two. That's considerable less than the 13 errors when they played at Dixie State.
"We have a good pitching staff," said Madsen. He pointed out that Zac Dinkins, a starting pitcher from Green River, has made significant contributions this season. But the coach was quick to add that other pitchers in the lineup deserve recognition.
Fingering the pitching by freshman Kyle Graham of Farmington, Madsen added, "Graham was a big part of the win against Salt Lake last weekend."