Blugold baseball opens season with 2-0 record

The team came back to win in the last innings of both games

Thomas DeLapp

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Coach Bolden emphasizes growth on and off the diamond this season

Blugold Men’s Baseball team started their season on March 5 with two wins at Corn Crib in Normal, Ill.

The Blugolds beat the Carroll, Wis. Pioneers, 5-3 in the first game. Down by two to Illinois Tech in the ninth inning of the second game, Blugolds made a three run comeback to win 5-4. 

Nate Witte, a second-year outfielder, led the Blugolds in batting in both games. 

Witte said it felt good to be out on the field playing games after practicing indoors for nearly all of the pre-season.  

“We just started practicing outside this last week,” he said. “So to go out there and win those first two close games felt like all of our hard work coming together.”

Pitcher Brennan Cohen, a first-year pitcher, agreed with Witte. 

“Being close with each other for that long can sometimes get hard, but we pulled through and really got the best of it,” Cohen said.  “It really showed, coming outside for the first time, playing a game against these teams that have been able to get outside, being out there and proving that we’re a team together.”

In both games, Blugolds were trailing by multiple runs going into the eighth innings. Charles Bolden, UW-Eau Claire’s head coach,  attributed the wins to a  saying: “the game isn’t over until the last out.”

“We just kept fighting, kept grinding, guys were doing a good job of putting the bat on the ball,” he said.  “Our pitching was outstanding, they weren’t walking guys, our defense did a really good job playing catch, and anytime you do that you’ll give yourself a chance to win every game you play.”

This is only the team’s second year, and only nine of the 39 players are returning members.  Bolden said that while a young team comes with uncertainty, it’s also packed with potential.  Bolden said his goals for the team are to compete and do their best each game while growing as people, too.

Players learn a lot of life lessons from baseball, Bolden said, and he aims for them to “grow from boys to men.” Bolden’s growth tactics go beyond the field; regularly engaging the teams in discussions about EDI.  

“It’s super important to me to talk about things outside of baseball,” Bolden said.  We talk about things that are actually going on in the world: gender equality, racism, we cover everything.  No topic is unturned with us, we like to have those uncomfortable conversations and we make them comfortable.”

Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Witte and Cohen said one of their biggest challenges would be Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference games, as WIAC playing teams are “top level competition,” according to Witte.

Witte and Cohen said they shared Bolden’s goals for off-field growth, particularly because the team is so young, Witte noted.  

Bolden said he was very happy with the results of the first two games, and is looking forward to a good season.

“We just love support, especially on beautiful weather days,” Bolden said. “Come out to as many games as you can. We should be a pretty entertaining team to watch.  This should be a fun year. We are just at the start of it and we’re just looking to grow with the momentum.” 

Blugold Baseball’s next game is Thursday, March 5 against Carleton College in Minneapolis.

DeLapp can be reached at [email protected]