Last week baseball played its first series versus a major conference opponent in Michigan State and its first road game of the year against the University of the Incarnate Word.
Over the weekend, the Wildcats were able to sweep MSU three games to none. However, the Wildcats dropped their road opener to the Incarnate Word Cardinals 12-5.
Earlier that week, the team had plans of playing Michigan State on Friday, a doubleheader on Saturday, and the final game on Sunday. However, poor weather changed to a Sunday doubleheader and a Monday mid-day matchup with a day’s rest before playing Incarnate Word on Wednesday.
In game one on Sunday, the Wildcats found themselves out to an early 2-0 lead thanks to a Colton Eager 382-foot home run to right field. Eager was not done there belting a 432-foot three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to make it an 8-1 game.
The Wildcats would win game one 10-1 while utilizing three pitchers who pitched 13 strikeouts. Most notable was a three-inning no-hit effort from Connor Carlton, a junior pitcher from Abilene.
Game two started similarly, with the Wildcats putting up a six-spot in the first inning and six combined runs in the third and fourth innings. This game was highlighted by outstanding pitching from Breck Eichelberger, a junior pitcher from Ivins, Utah.
Eichelberger, a transfer from Salt Lake City Community College, had gotten roughed up in his first start of the season versus North Dakota State. Saturday, Eichelberger threw six innings of one-run baseball en route to a 12-4 Wildcats victory in this matchup.
In game three of the series, the Wildcats found themselves down 2-1 going into the seventh, where an offensive rally pushed nine runs across for a comeback 10-2 victory and a series sweep of the Spartans.
In a series with great baseball on both offense and defense, head coach Rick McCarty was glad to see his team playing at a high level early on in the season.
“Pitching was much better,” McCarty said. “More consistent from the first weekend in, so we liked what we saw there in that regard just from a strike zone management standpoint and very few walks. Offensively, we certainly did the job there and gave our guys some cushion.”
With only a day between games, the Wildcats traveled to San Antonio for their first road game to play future Western Athletic Conference opponent Incarnate Word.
The Wildcats opened scoring early with a run in the first, but UIW responded in the bottom of the first with four runs and eight runs in the bottom of the fifth. Though the Wildcats managed to drive in three more runs, the deficit was too much to make up, dropping the game 12-5.
In this game, pitching proved the Wildcats’ downfall utilizing nine pitchers—however, Colton Eager, senior outfielder from North Richland Hills, went 4-for-4 at the plate, including two doubles.
Despite the score, McCarty is still mindful of the growing pains a team will have early on in the season.
“That one inning got away from us like I said, we are still trying to figure out a few things,” McCarty said. “I probably should’ve done a few things differently myself. To see Eager and Mitchell Dickson, not that they had been slow to start, but it was really good to see those guys produce and have some good games.”
The Wildcats continue their season with a three-game series versus Marist Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. With notable upcoming matchups versus Baylor on Wednesday and their WAC season-opening season versus UT-Rio Grande Valley March 11-13.