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Eagle nine undefeated in early-season play

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Photo by Tamie Meck Senior Jaden Miller had three strikeouts and allowed one run in Paonia's 13-1 win against Olathe on March 20. The Eagles have posted a 69-8 record and have won their last 29 games since Nate Miller took over as head coach in 2015.

The Paonia Eagles played to two five-inning wins Saturday under sunny skies. "It's good to be out here on a nice day, finally," said head coach Nate Miller.

Paonia opened the day on a 10-0 win over the Nucla Mustangs. Senior Kaden Seriani opened in the bottom of the first inning on a two-run homer, followed by a solo HR by Jaden Miller.

In their 15-0 win over Dove Creek, in the first two inning Bulldogs freshman pitcher Branson Smith threw no-hitters.

Paonia broke the game open in the third, scoring 12 runs on 10 hits in 16 at-bats. Seriani hit two home runs and had five RBIs for the game.

Senior Anders Schoppe ended the game with a single, a double, and three RBIs. Podgorny had three hits, three RBIs and a triple.

On March 27 the Eagles defeated the 3A Pirates at Olathe, 13-1, in five innings, with Miller hitting a three-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the fifth inning. Miller was 1 for 3 for the game with five RBIs. Sophomore Grey Neal was 2 for 3 with a double and two RBIs, and Seriani was 1 for 4 with four RBIs and a two-run homer.

On the mound Miller pitched three Ks and allowed one hit and one run in four innings. In the fifth inning, sophomore Soul Connolly faced three batters, allowing one hit and striking out two.

In early-season rankings, Paonia is first in Class 2A following its 25-0 season in 2017. The wins give the Eagles a 4-0 record for the season. They have outscored their opponents, 45-2.

The bottom half of the lineup started the season out slow, but players were showing improvement by Saturday. "We've got a lot of kids that were on the bench last year, and some of those guys didn't get a chance because we were so deep," said Miller. "And now they're getting a chance and they're doing a good job. They're working hard in practice and they're swinging it good."

After the doubleheader scheduled March 24 against Dayspring Christian was canceled, Paonia was three games shy of a full 19-game schedule. Its toughest opponents at this point include an April 17 game against 5A Grand Junction, a second game against 3A Delta, and late-season games against rival Hotchkiss. The Bulldogs are 6-0 and were eighth in pre-season rankings after losing to Paonia, 1-0 (the closest game the Eagles played all season) in quarterfinals last season.

Miller picked up a game against Moffat County, with a date and location to be determined. He plans to schedule two more games to fill the schedule. "There's still some tough teams out there," said Miller. "Meeker will probably be deep, too."

Miller said he doesn't know if this year's team is as deep as last year's, but that's not a concern. "I think we're a better unit, a better team this year," he said. "The kids gel together very well. I think by the end of the year, when stuff starts really counting, I think we'll be right there. We hope."

The Eagles played Coal Ridge Tuesday night. They open conference play this Saturday at Rangely (0-5).

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