The Thunderbirds baseball team concluded their conference series against the Idaho State Coyotes with two wins and two losses, both by a score of 5-4. This is after a split on Saturday, where the T-Birds took a 1-0 shutout win, followed by a 3-1 loss.
The Thunderbirds did not start Sunday strong. Idaho State got onto the scoreboard early in the first inning when Matt Hamilton successfully batted to second base, allowing Mitch Viydo, to score. Brady Mooney and Troy Carr added two more in succession for the Coyotes in the second inning, both of which also resulted from a double by the batter.
Despite UBC’s 3-0 deficit by the end of the second inning, right fielder Tyler Enns successfully scored the first run for the team in the third inning. Second baseman Justin Orton scored another run for the T-birds in the next inning, but UBC again trailed by two points as Idaho State scored their fourth run in the sixth inning as a result of an error by UBC third baseman Anthony Cusati.
The home team saw its strongest momentum in game three during the eighth inning, when Orton scored his second run of the game before left fielder John Whaley ran one in to even the score at 4-4. Enns also attempted a run that could have given UBC the lead, but was unsuccessful.
The T-Birds tied with the Coyotes at 4-4 by the end of the ninth inning, but eventually lost 5-4 in the tenth.
“We came back and got it into extra innings, but we just didn’t execute on the mound, and 10th inning there, they (Idaho State) got the big run, and we didn’t. We couldn’t answer,” said head coach Terry McKaig.
Game four witnessed some different dynamics. This time, designated hitter Jerod Bartnik scored the first run for the Thunderbirds in the first inning on a passed ball by the Coyotes.
Idaho State had a total of three errors in the final game, which UBC was able to capitalize on. Most notably, during the third inning, Enns advanced two bases on an error by Coyotes third baseman Jake Hennessey, which allowed T-Birds shortstop Kyle McComb to score. The Thunderbirds had a 5-0 lead by the ninth.
Regardless, the Coyotes continued to show resilience. Idaho State scored an impressive four runs in the final inning, two of which resulted from UBC pitchers walking batters as the bases were loaded. Still, the Coyotes ultimately lost 5-4 as the Thunderbirds concluded the game with a double play.
McKaig said that since the UBC pitchers who threw during the ninth inning, Brad Smith and Anthony Duen, were both freshmen, he was not surprised at the way they performed.
“Freshmen, when they play at this four-year level, it’s a little bit intimidating for them, and you could tell, they are not at the point in their career yet,” said McKaig.
In terms of the Thunderbirds’ batting performance, McKaig commented on how he did see improvement compared to the first two games, where they only managed one run per game.
“It’s not about one day having a great collapse and getting all worried about it, and today, they came out more relaxed and they did a good job swinging their bats,” he said.
The Thunderbirds will play their next conference series against Oregon Tech on March 28 and 29 in Klamath Falls.