The Utah baseball team (10-15, 7-2 in Pac-12) has certainly been one of the “confusing” teams to start the 2016 campaign. Tied for first in the Pac-12, the Utes have a successful 7-2 record in conference games but a disappointing 3-13 in non-conference games.
This trend would continue on Tuesday night, as the Utes fell on the road to Utah Valley (16-14) for the second time this year, 10-4.
Tanner Thomas started on the mound for the Utes, throwing 3 2/3 innings, allowing an unearned run while striking out four Wolverines. Trenton Stolz appeared on the bump for an inning, allowing two unearned runs with a strikeout, before Josh Tedeschi entered in relief, throwing for 2/3 of an inning and striking out one batter.
Hunter Rodriguez, the game’s losing pitcher, would also appear in relief, in addition to both Lars Lofgren and Riley Ottesen, to make for a total of six pitchers for Utah on Tuesday. Lofgren pitched the eighth inning, striking out two, and Ottesen added two strikeouts in 1 1/3 innings of relief pitching.
On a windy night at Brent Brown Ballpark in Orem, UVU got off to an early lead after scoring off an RBI single with an error. Following the Wolverines’ quick lead, Utah’s Kellen Marruffo responded by launching a two-run home run, hitting the scoreboard out in center.
Following a run scored off a throwing error, Marruffo would add his third RBI of the evening off a fielder’s choice play at first. Utah carried a 4-1 lead into the top of the fifth, until the Wolverines’ offensive explosion in the following innings. The Utes’ pitching staff would suffer a tough night, as UVU scored two runs in the fifth, three runs in the sixth and four more in the seventh frame to give the Wolverines a 10-4 lead over Utah.
Both teams failed to score in the final two innings, clinching UVU’s series victory over the Utes. Utah Valley defeated Utah at Smith’s Ballpark just a week earlier on Mar. 29, where Utah gave up a late-inning lead to the Wolverines in a 7-6 loss.
Utah will get one more shot at the talented Wolverines on April 19 at Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City.
Despite last night’s result, the Utes are on a roll right now in conference play, winning three straight Pac-12 series after winning just three in the previous four seasons prior to this season. Utah’s sweep against Arizona at home over the weekend marked the Utes’ first conference series sweep in the Pac-12.
The Utes will be traveling toward some better weather out west to Southern California for this weekend’s series against USC (13-14, 3-3 in Pac-12). Utah will be sure to not overlook the Trojans with a big matchup ahead with the team down south (BYU).
The Trojans are fresh off a walk-off victory against Pepperdine and seem ready to make an impact in the Pac-12. Utah’s first game of the weekend series will be on Friday at 7 p.m. MST.