UW-Eau Claire baseball returns to competition after more than 25 years

    Blugolds lose first two games in double-header against UW-La Crosse


    Photo by SUBMITTED

    The men’s baseball team was reinstated after being disbanded in 1995 and played its first games on Saturday.

    UW-Eau Claire baseball lost its two season opener games to UW-La Crosse on Saturday, March 20.

    This was the first official baseball competition for UW-Eau Claire since the 1994-95 season. Charles Bolden, the head coach, said the team is brand new this year and has been built from the ground up.

    In game one, the Blugolds were left scoreless against the Eagles. A homerun secured three runs for the Eagles in the bottom of the first. 

    Two runs were batted during the bottom of the second and fourth innings, which brought the score to 7-0. The Blugolds managed to hold them off in the third and fifth innings.

    Then, in the bottom of the sixth, the Eagles took four more RBIs and scored two additional runs off two wild pitches by the Blugolds. The game ended in the bottom of the seventh with a final score of 13-0.

    Tom Ginther, a fourth-year pitcher, pitched for five innings and struck out three batters.

    The closest the Blugolds got to scoring in game one was with a couple of hits from Otto Treichel, a second-year infielder. 

    Nate Witte, a first-year left fielder, said the team was really nervous for the first game of the season. 

    The team is very young overall with only about five upperclassmen, Witte said, which added on to the pressure to perform well.

    “As a young team we need some of the younger guys to step up,” Witte said. “I definitely feel like I played a part in that role (in game two).”

    Game two was notable for the action at the plate for the Blugolds. Witte singled in the top of the first inning and later scored their first run of the season off of a passed ball.

    In the top of the second inning, Elyjah Johnson, a first-year outfielder, scored off of a double from Logan Matson, a third-year infielder. The Eagles answered with four runs in the bottom of the second, giving them a 4-2 lead.

    In the top of the third, Treichel hit the Blugolds’ first homerun of the season and brought the score to 4-3. The Eagles answered with another RBI in the bottom.

    “I haven’t hit a home run since I was in little league,” Treichel said. “After that I could feel the energy of the team go way up.”

    Witte and Matson scored in the top of the fourth and tied the game at 5-5. The Eagles batted in another run in the bottom of the inning. 

    Witte scored again off a sacrifice fly from Matson in the top of the sixth and tied the game again at 6-6. 

    The Eagles brought in another run in the bottom of the inning. At that point, the Blugolds’ energy “fell off a cliff,” Witte said.

    With no more runs for the Blugolds, the Eagles scored eight runs in the bottom of the seventh and two more in the bottom of the eighth, which ended the game at 16-6. 

    Bolden said he started with nothing and created this team that competed on Saturday for the first time. He said he really appreciates the community support and the university for allowing him this opportunity.

    “To be able to start something from the ground up is really a special thing,” Bolden said.

    Coaching a team that had never played college baseball was not so much of a challenge from a coaching perspective, but more of a challenge for the players, Bolden said. 

    Bolden said it will take the team some getting used to, which ultimately left them feeling unprepared both mentally and physically.

    The team struggled to throw strikes and started out “stagnant” on offense, two areas Bolden said they will be working on improving as they head into this week. He said he is hoping for a win as long as the team can stay aggressive.

    Due to weather, the Blugolds’ double header for Tuesday, March 23 was rescheduled to Thursday, March 25.

    Plueger can be reached at [email protected].