Better late than never

USI’s baseball team, in danger of not making the GLVC Tournament for the second-straight year — a tournament USI also is hosting for the second consecutive year — has won its last six games. More important, five of those have come in conference games. The most recent victories came on Saturday when the Eagles swept a doubleheader from visiting McKendree. They have one more game against McKendree on Sunday, then — after playing the University of Evansville at UE on Wednesday night at 6 — will conclude the regular season with four games at Bellarmine next Friday through Sunday.

USI is a fairly young team, with four freshmen getting considerable playing time. But the key has been the pitching. The Eagles have four solid starters in Ben Wright (6-4, 2.16 ERA), Brandon Shaw (5-1, 2.34 ERA), Matt Bowles (7-3, 2.41 ERA) and David Toth (6-3, 3.53 ERA) and a dependable closer in Adam Carver (4 saves, 3.41 ERA), with Shaw also having collected four saves. After spending much of the season below .500 in GLVC games, USI is now¬† 17-14. Overall, it’s 28-15 and — I can’t seem to figure this out — ranked No. 2 in the Midwest Region. I’m not sure how that would square if the Eagles don’t make the GLVC tournament, but it hasn’t happened yet.

What I’ve heard is that, for a long time, this team didn’t buy into what coach Tracy Archuleta said they had to do to win. That’s pretty astounding when you consider that he led the Eagles to a national championship just three years ago and also took USI to the national finals in 2007. But young players have to learn, I guess, that the coach almost always knows best, even a coach with Archuleta’s pedigree.

That said, getting into the GLVC Tournament is everything. All bets are off then. With the pitching USI has, it could run the table here and then proceed to make a long run in the NCAA tournament. Stay tuned.

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