NEW ORLEANS — Brock Duke pitched a gem and got plenty of run support as the Utah baseball team took the rubber match of the series against Tulane with an 8-1 win on Saturday.
"It starts on the mound, and Brock really set the tone today," Utah head coach Bill Kinneberg said. "He didn't have a base runner until the fifth inning. He set the tone and our offense came through and did a nice job today. Trey Nielsen had a good day — he hit the ball hard for us."
Utah got on the board first in the second inning on an RBI single from Trey Nielsen before C.J. Cron hit a two-run home run to deep left field in the third for a 3-0 advantage. The Utes added three more runs in the fourth to go up 6-0. Nielsen hit a two-RBI double after two runners reached on errors..
Duke had a perfect game going through four innings before walking a runner with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. Although a leadoff triple in the seventh would lead to a run to put the Green Wave on the board, Duke again got out of a jam when Blake Crohan grounded back to the pitcher to end the inning with the bases loaded.
Duke's seven innings was his longest outing of the season. He allowed five hits and one run, striking out four and walking two. He raises his record to 5-0 on the year.
Utah continued to put runs on the board in the late innings. Nielsen homered to left in the sixth for his fourth RBI of the game. The Utes added an insurance run in the top of the ninth on an RBI double from James Brooks.
Stephen Streich pitched the final two innings, allowing one hit with three strikeouts.
Nielsen was 3-for-4 on the day. Brooks went 2-for-4, while Cron had two RBI..
Utah returns to action on Tuesday, April 26, at Utah Valley, beginning at 6:00 p.m. MT.
BYU 1, NEW MEXICO 0: At Provo, Matthew Neil pitched a complete-game shutout as BYU won the finale of a three-game series at Larry H. Miller Field.
"One thing coach said to me before the game was pitch smarter not harder, so I was just focusing on working the edges of the plate," said Neil, a senior right-hander who was clocked as fast as 92 mph. "This was my first complete game shut-out. But, this game was an all around effort. Two of my pitches were working until my slider came back. I trust the guys behind me.."
Highlights of the game included Neil's 128-pitch, six-strikeout performance, as well as Ryan Bernal's RBI that won the game for the Cougars.
"Neil did an unbelievable job to give us a chance that we needed," said BYU coach Vance Law. "It doesn't happen very often with metal bats. He's had better days with better stuff, but he has learned how to be tough on the mound. He competes as well as anyone we've got. He got ahead of the majority of hitters."
While both teams were unable score in the first three innings, the bottom of the fourth provided a change of pace. Dillon Robinson recorded the Cougars' first single of the night, before a triple from Bernal allowed Robinson to round the bases for the only run of the game.
New Mexico came close to scoring in the top of the sixth, but with two outs and two on base, Neil got designated hitter John Twichell to fly out to Jaycob Brugman in right field to end the threat.
UNM came close to tying the ballgame again after consecutive singles in the ninth, but Austin Hall threw Twichell out at the plate for out two. Jacob Nelson then grounded to Robinson at third base who tagged pinch runner Logan Lippert to end the game.
"Hall's play was big off the run to throw him out at the plate," said Law.
Unfortunately Hall's play, and a great pitching performance by Neil, was overshadowed by fisticuffs after the game, before the coaches and umpires quickly broke up the exchange.
Next up, the Cougars travel to Pullman to face-off with Washington State on Monday.
UTAH VALLEY 13, CHICAGO STATE 3: At Orem, Utah Valley had big production from the middle of its lineup in a win over Chicago State in Great West Conference baseball action. The Wolverines (15-18, 7-1) took three of four games from the Cougars over the weekend. Austin Haws led the way with four hits as the middle of the UVU lineup went a combined 14-for-21. Kai Hatch continued his torrid streak over the weekend with three more hits and three RBIs, including a run-scoring triple, to finish the four-game series 12-for-15 (.800).
Austin Heaps also had three hits, including the walk-off double in the seventh inning to score two runs, ending the game via the 10-run rule. Chris Benson and Goose Kallunki added two hits apiece.
"We spent a lot of time working on things and the guys responded well," said head coach Eric Madsen. "I was really pleased with how we went about things offensively today."
After Chicago State scored a run in the top of the first, Utah Valley scored four in the bottom of the inning and two more in the second to lead 6-1 early on.
In the first, the Wolverines sent 10 hitters to the plate and got on the board when Kallunki singled with the bases loaded to score Haws, who had who doubled, and Benson. Hatch then singled to drive home Heaps before Alex Exon's fielder's choice plated Kallunki.
Haws singled to lead off the second and scored when Benson tripled to right-center before Benson came in on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Heaps.
Chicago State got two runs back in the third to make it 6-3, where the score stayed until a two-out rally in the sixth for UVU.
With two down and nobody on, Haws and Benson singled before Heaps doubled one run home. Two batters later, Hatch tripled to left-center to score two more as the Wolverines erupted for five runs after there were two gone in the inning.
Heaps' seventh-inning double came with two outs and scored Kirk Doxey and Haws, who crossed home plate for the fourth time on the day to end the game.
Ryan Chadwick made his second appearance of the series — after pitching the final inning in Thursday's Jeremy Gendlek-led shutout — throwing 41/3 relief innings without allowing a run. Chadwick was the pitcher of record, improving to 3-1 and, in 91/3 innings in GWC play, hasn't allowed a run. Kyle Beecher threw the top of the seventh and also hasn't allowed a run in six innings during conference play.
"Chadwick came in and did a great job. All those shut down innings are huge for us," said Madsen. "Our bullpen was awesome all weekend. Every time we had a reliever come in, there were a lot of zeroes."
Utah Valley will host Utah on Tuesday before beginning a four-game Great West series on April 28 against NJIT.
SOUTHERN UTAH 10-10, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 12-0: At Brookings, S.D., Southern Utah split a doubleheader with Summit League leader South Dakota State. The Thunderbirds dropped the first game of the day, but SUU would ride a strong pitching performance from senior pitcher James Crockett to claim a victory in the second contest.
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SOUTHERN IDAHO 6-8, SALT LAKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE 5-7: At Twin Falls, Idaho, the No. 1-ranked Bruins stumbled twice at Southern Idaho to fall to 41-7 overall and 26-6 in conference play. Dominique Taylor was 4 for 7 with a double and a triple in the two games to lead Salt Lake at the plate. Sean Moysh was 1-for-3 with a triple and Braden Anderson went 2-for-4. In the second game the Bruins scored two runs in the seventh inning to force extra innings when Scott Manning and Taylor hit back-to-back doubles and Eddy Alverez blasted a solo home run.