Seriani pitches Paonia to DH sweep of Uintah

Paonia’s Kelby Carver tries to break up a double play Thursday in the Eagles’ victory over Uintah at Grand Junction. Paonia swept a doubleheader, winning 3-0 and 8-4.

Kayden Seriani’s football season was cut short by an injury and he didn’t play any sports in the winter, so the Paonia High School junior just worked on his pitching.

So when the Eagles met Uintah, Utah, for a season-opening doubleheader in Grand Junction on Thursday, Seriani was already in midseason form.

Paonia’s ace buzzed through five innings to lead the Eagles to a 3-0 victory in the first game. Paonia’s bats woke up in the second game for an 8-4 victory.

Seriani scattered two hits across his outing and struck out 11 batters with two walks for the Eagles (2-0) against the Utes (2-4). He spotted his fastball well along the outside half of the plate and regularly buckled right-handed hitters with his curveball.

Paonia coach Nate Miller said he left Seriani in for 88 pitches because he’s had the extra work in the winter to build up his arm.

“(Kayden) is a kid who didn’t really play football and he didn’t play basketball and he’s been throwing a lot so we can work deep with him,” Nate Miller said. “Yeah, he was throwing well today. I don’t know how hard he was throwing, but he did well. They put the bat on him, but we played great defense behind him and he’ll definitely be the No. 1 for us.”

As Seriani burned through the lineup, his run support came in spurts. It was also largely station-to-station baseball, something rare for Paonia, which is used to regularly posting double-digit scoring totals.

One of the rare big hits came in the first inning, as Jaden Miller roped an RBI triple. In the third inning, the junior reached on a fielder’s choice, advanced on an error, then scored on a hit from Dagan Rienks.

In the fourth inning, Colby Simpson was hit by a pitch leading off. He immediately stole second, advanced to third on a bunt from Alex Lozano and scampered home on a wild pitch.

Nate Miller said he was happy with his team’s grind-it-out offensive performance. Experiencing that early in the season, especially against a larger school, can help in the Class 2A playoffs.

“We’ve had to learn that over the past couple years,” Nate Miller said. “We play a lot of teams we can score a lot of runs against them. But we have a lot of great teams on the schedule this year, and when you have that, we’re going to get them on first, move them over and drive them in. The big swings have bit us in the butt a few times in the past, so moving guys around is a big focus for us this year.”

The second game was more classic Paonia, as the Eagles piled up runs with big hits. Trevor Smith hit an RBI single through the right side of the infield, erasing Uintah’s 1-0 lead. After a quiet second inning, Lozano led off the third with a single, Seriani was hit by a pitch, then Jaden Miller laced a two-run double to the fence. Smith followed that up by dropping a two-run home run onto the tennis courts beyond the right-field fence of Bill Fanning Field.

A string of singles, an error, a balk and a sacrifice fly put three runs on the board in the bottom of the sixth, allowing Paonia to pad its lead.

Jaden Miller earned the win, working out of trouble for six solid innings and 91 pitches. He allowed three runs on eight hits with one strikeout and one walk. Numerous errors put runners on the bases at inopportune times, but Nate Miller said his son can battle on the mound.

“Jaden didn’t throw so much for us last year — we just didn’t have to use him — but he’s somebody we’re going to use a lot this year and he’s got a pretty resilient arm,” Nate Miller said. “I kept asking him if he wanted to come out and, of course, the answer is always no. He hits his sports, works down and throws the off-speed for strikes. He’s effective.”


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