By Spencer Hirsch |Asst. Sports Editor|
There were several noteworthy player performances in the Coyote’s four-game road series on March 2–4 against conference opponent CSU Stanislaus.
Cory Caruso was first in line, as he delivered seven solid innings in the series opener.
Unfortunately, he took the 2-1 loss in a hard fought pitcher’s duel.
The Coyotes came up strong, sweeping the double header on March 3.
In the first game of the doubleheader, Paul Eshleman smashed a three-run homerun in the top of the fourth to bring the Coyotes’ bats to life.
“It was a turning point in the team’s mentality to get after it,” said Eshleman.
Matt Winn hit a monstrous solo homerun to left field and Ethan Chapman followed it up with an RBI triple to knock in Mike Newell in the top of the 12th, as the Coyotes handed the Warriors a 7–5 loss.
Kerry Kelley picked up the win, as he delivered three scoreless innings out of the bullpen to bring his mark to 2-0. Kelley increased his scoreless streak to 15.2 innings.
“I think a big reason why I am having success so far this season is that the coaches have a lot more confidence in me. I come up pumped up every time. I love those pressure situations,” said Kelley.
His hard work the past three summers have helped him grow on the mound, as he pitched in three Urban Development League RBI World Series while playing for the Urban Youth Academy team.
He took home MVP honors in 2009 and 2011, highlighted by a complete game shutout victory in the 2011 championship game that was held at the Minnesota Twins’ Target Field and streamed live on MLB Network.
“The RBI World Series was one of the best things that happened in my life. It was an experience that I will always remember,” said Kelley.
The Coyotes’ momentum carried over into the second game of the doubleheader, as the offense exploded for eight runs, while south paw Mike Mudron threw a complete game to earn his first win of the season.
They were on the verge of winning their first conference series.
The Warriors did not comply, however, as they beat the ‘Yotes in a slugfest in the series finale on March 4 by a final score of 13–9.
The 2–2 series split gives the Coyotes an overall record of 8–9 and a conference record of 5–7, which puts them in fifth place in the CCAA.
“We are a lot better than a .500 team. We come home for a month straight, so hopefully we will turn it around,” said Chapman.
He had been struggling with the bat, but the adjustments he made at the plate coming into this series as well as his teammates’ continual encouragement has helped him get out of his dry spell.
Chapman exploded against the Warriors, as he went nine for 19 in the series and drove home five runs.
“I just changed my whole thought process. I was more aggressive and swung early in the count. Teammates have had my back when I was struggling. I knew I would work my way out of it,” said Chapman.
The team is looking to get back to their winning ways in hopes of making a deep playoff run come May.