San Diego Union Tribune By John Maffei | 4 p.m. July 11, 2015
Four years of college ball, and Eric Yardley's career was over.
He'd tried everything at Seattle University, grip changes, new pitches and an underhand delivery.
He went undrafted in 2013 and was ready to work on his masters.
"Then I got a call from a guy who asked if I wanted to pitch in the Pecos League," Yardley said. "So I drove 20 hours to New Mexico."
The Pecos League is the pits of independent ball. He was picked up by the team in Trinidad, Colo.
"A Padres scout saw me," Yardley said. "He asked if I could get to Phoenix and report to the Arizona Rookie League. I got to the airport and hopped a flight."
Yardley's career has taken off from there.
He was 2-4 with a 2.95 ERA in 42 games last season at Fort Wayne and made four appearances for Double-A San Antonio.
Yardley made the jump to Lake Elsinore this season and is 2-3 with a 3.47 ERA - inflated by two bad outings - with 15 saves, third in the California League.
"The Pecos wasn't a pretty league," said Yardley, who got the final two outs of the California-Carolina League All-Star Game. "But I learned a ton, including how precious the game can be.
"Now I'm in a spot where my job is to end games."
Yardley's underhand fastball sits at 84-85 mph, but he has a linear slider and a changeup he keeps down in the zone.
"My arm angle is so different that I get guys out," Yardley said. "Not a lot of strikeouts, but if my defense is playing well behind me, it works."