A SECOND CHANCE
CMU's Allianic, Ehlers overcome arm injuries
Trent Allianic could be pitching for an NCAA Division I program.
Tyler Ehlers might have been a starter.
The two pitchers for the Colorado Mesa baseball team sustained torn elbow ligament injuries altering their course, but now both are back on the mound contributing in relief this season.
Allianic, who went to the University of Hawaii out of high school, was being recruited by Division I programs after he transferred to Ohlone (Calif.) Junior College for his sophomore year.
The Hawaiian was drawing interest from the University of San Diego, UC-Irvine and Washington until his ulnar collateral ligament snapped in a game in 2012.
Allianic was so devastated he nearly quit playing.
“I was thinking about hanging up the cleats at one point,” Allianic said. “I was depressed. I had to go to counseling.
“My parents said keep chasing your dreams. I got the surgery and never took a day off after that. I listened to my therapist.”
The Division I programs were no longer interested, but Colorado Mesa coach Chris Hanks was, so Allianic called Mavs assistant coach Sean McKinney.
“We told him, ‘You can come here and earn the money, but we can’t scholarship you hurt,’ ” Hanks said. “He did. Now, we’re going to reap the benefits of it. I told him, ‘If you do a good job and get healthy, we’ll put you on money,’ and he’s on money this year.
“He has No. 1-type stuff.”
Allianic missed the 2013 season rehabbing the surgically repaired ligament.
The redshirt junior started off the season making appearances out of the bullpen, but he pulled his oblique muscle in an appearance against Northern Colorado the third weekend of the season. He finally returned in late March, starting against CSU-Pueblo in a nonconference game in Denver. Allianic is 1-0 with one save and a 1.59 ERA in seven appearances. He’s allowed two earned runs on 11 hits and struck out eight in 11 1/3 innings.
Tyler Ehlers was back on the mound in the spring of 2013 after recovering from a torn knee ligament when the left-hander shredded the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow.
Ehlers tore his anterior cruciate ligament the night Mesa won the 2011 RMAC championship. He pitched 22 innings in 10 appearances, including three starts that year.
“I was up with some friends hiking and had a freak accident, tearing my ACL,” Ehlers said. “I didn’t know that until October after doctors said it looked fine.”
He had surgery in November and was out for six months with rehab (through the end of the 2012 season).
When he returned to the mound, in his third “live” outing in the bullpen, he threw one pitch and heard a loud pop.
“Any pitcher knows that sound,” Ehlers said of the elbow injury. “That put me out another 12 months, but I didn’t truly start feeling good until January of this year.”
He had surgery in July 2012 and missed the 2013 season.
“It’s been a long three years, that’s for sure,” Ehlers said.
“There was a lot of anxiousness,” Ehlers said. “I knew we had a lot of good pitching. I had a tough year. I knew I was behind the curve. What kept me going the whole time was being allowed to be out here with the guys.”
The redshirt sophomore returned to the mound this year and has made seven appearances out of the bullpen. He’s allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits and struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings.
“My outlook now is I can’t stay away from the field,” Ehlers said. “I want to be the first one there and the last one to leave, where I used to not have the dying urge. I love being here, but I took a lot more things for granted than I do now.”
Ehlers came to Mesa as a starter, but after missing two years, he doesn’t care what his role is.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am to come to practice,” Ehlers said. “You get more excited for the things that aren’t as fun. When you’re not able to do it, you realize you miss those things.”