By Jessica Bracamontes |Staff Writer|
By Spencer Hirsch |Asst. Sports Editor|
The Coyotes split their four game series on April 19–21 against the conference leading UC San Diego Tritons.
After taking the first two games at home, the Coyotes looked to take the series by winning at least one game, in the doubleheader on April 21 at the Tritons’ home turf.
Unfortunately, it was just not meant to be. The Tritons won both of their home games as well, keeping their conference lead by one game when the weekend was said and done.
According to left hand relief pitcher Kerry Kelley, the team just had a bad day. “We weren’t clicking on all cylinders,” said Kelley.
First baseman Brandon Day explained how the Coyotes were able to strike first with a 3–2 victory in the series opener against the Tritons on April 19. “We came out with a little more energy that day,” said Day.
The Coyotes got the early edge on the Tritons by putting two runs on the scoreboard in the fifth inning. Ethan Chapman ripped an RBI single through the right side in the inning to bring in Edwin Mendoza.
Later in the eighth, Day answered with an RBI single to right field that put the Coyotes up by two. The Tritons responded early in the eighth and ninth inning by scoring two runs to tie the game at 2–2.
The Coyotes did not lose their confidence, as they got two runners on in the bottom of the ninth and had their big bats coming up in Darren Dworak, who is leading the team with a .368 batting average, and Paul Eshleman, who is right behind Dworak, with a .333 batting average.
The Tritons decided to take the righty on righty matchup, as they intentionally walked the left-handed hitting Dworak to load the bases so that they could face the right-handed hitting Eshleman.
Paul Eshleman proved to be clutch, as he hit a walk off single through the right side to bring home Mike Newell for the 3–2 victory.
“I was looking for off-speed. They threw me a fastball away. I just went with it and hit it to right,” said Eshleman. The Coyotes completely demolished the Tritons in game two of the series with a 14–4 win, as Eshleman came up big once again.
Scoring four runs in the third, Eshleman decided to put the game out of reach in the fourth. After scoring their fifth run earlier in the inning on a bases loaded walk to Dworak, Eshleman came up with one thing on his mind: knocking in runs.
With one mighty swing of the bat, the slugger crushed a grand slam to left center to put the Coyotes up 9–0. In the first two games, Eshleman delivered an astounding seven RBIs and had seven hits in just ten at-bats. Six of his seven RBIs came in the 14–4 victory, in which he had four hits in five at-bats.
“It was just a matter of getting a good pitch to hit. Its been going good for me of late. I feel like I am more relaxed and seeing the ball better lately,” said Eshleman. “Eshleman has gotten into a groove. It feels like he will get a hit every time he steps up to the plate,” said Kelley.
The Coyotes traveled to the Tritons’ home field to wrap up the series in a double header on April 21. Unfortunately, both games went in the Tritons favor by scores of 8–4 and 5–2.
Though the Coyotes were not able to take the series from the Tritons after winning the first two games, Kelley feels good about the team’s overall performance, and he also feels they have the potential to have a very deep playoff run.
“We are doing good in all areas. We just need to keep up the way we have been playing. We are hot right now. If we keep it up, we will go far,” said Kelley.
Photos by Matthew D. Gilford