OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. — Utah Valley University, ranked No. 27 by Collegiate Baseball, notched its 29th straight win and in the process clinched its third straight Great West Conference regular season crown in an 8-0 shutout of NYIT on Friday.
Jake Rickenbach went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles for the Wolverines (36-11, 21-0 GWC) while Adam Gunn and Ryan Chadwick combined on a five-hitter and the sixth shutout of the season for UVU.
Kai Hatch added four hits and scored two runs while Willie Pratt had four RBIs, including a three-run home run in the seventh to help Utah Valley pull away late.
"We were fortunate to get that start from Adam and then have Ryan come in and pitch the way he did. They really controlled the tempo for us," said UVU head coach Eric Madsen. "We came out a little flat and it took us time to get going at the plate, but we got in a groove and the guys did a great job as the game went on."
Rickenbach scored the game's first run in the third on a base hit by Billy Burgess before a three-run fourth gave the Wolverines a 4-0 lead.
In the fourth, a single by Hatch preceded a double by Alex Exon before Pratt's sacrifice bunt scored Hatch and moved Exon to third. Rickenbach later doubled home a run and Sean Moysh drove in Jordy Hart with a sac-fly.
The score remained 4-0 until the seventh, when UVU put four more on the board to add on to the lead. Hatch had an RBI single to plate Austin Heaps and both he and Cole Butcher scored on the home run to right by Pratt, his second of the season.
Sebastian Grazziani had two of the five hits for the Bears.
Gunn tossed four innings of one-hit baseball and struck out six while working on a pitch count before Chadwick tossed the final five innings and struck out three.
The series continues on Saturday with a doubleheader slated to begin at 10 a.m. MT.
OREGON STATE 11, UTAH 10: At Salt Lake City, despite a late comeback that saw the Utah baseball team rally from a nine-run deficit, the Utes fell to Oregon State, 11-10.
Jo Jo Sharrar led Utah with a 4-for-5 performance, while Trey Nielsen was 3-for-4 including an inside the park home run. The Utes out-hit Oregon State 18-15.
Oregon State got after it quickly in the first inning, scoring six runs on seven hits. Michael Conforto hit a two-run home run while Ryan Dunn also homered in the inning. The Beavers took a 9-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning as Conforto hit his second homer of the day, a three-run shot to right field.
The Utes got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning and quickly made up for lost time with a four-run inning to cut the score to 9-4. Utah had five hits in the inning, as Cooper hit a one-out double down the left-field line that was fair by inches, followed by RBI singles from Sharrar, Cory Hunt and Tyson Gonzalez with an RBI double off the bat of James Brooks.
Oregon State scored solo runs in the fifth and six innings before Utah began its comeback in the bottom of the sixth with a run on an RBI ground out from Hunt after Sharrar led off the inning with a double. The Utes scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh after hits from Tyler Relf, Parker Morin and Sharrar.
Utah cut the OSU lead to two runs, 11-9, with a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Gavin Green hit a pinch-hit RBI triple after Hunt led off the inning with a single, and Green scored on Relf's sacrifice fly.
Nielsen led off the top of the ninth inning with an inside the park home run after two of OSU's outfielders collided. Sharrar tried to keep the momentum going with a fly ball off the wall in left field, but was gunned down at third base trying to stretch it into a triple. Beaver pitcher Tony Bryant got the next two batters to strike out to end the game and earn his ninth save of the year.
Utah used three pitchers, with Blake Golding allowing just one hit over the final 32/3 innings with four strikeouts. Tanner Tripp gave up two runs on four hits over two innings of relief, while starter Brock Duke earned the loss pitching 31/3 innings.
Oregon State was led by a 3-for-5 day by Conforto, who drove in five runs. Tyler Smith also had three hits. OSU starter Ben Wetzler earned the win after throwing five innings, allowing four runs on nine hits with two strikeouts. The Beavers used six total pitchers on the day.
Utah and Oregon State play Game 2 of the series at noon on Saturday at Spring Mobile Ballpark.
PEPPERDINE 9, BYU 5: At Malibu, Calif., the Cougars scored four runs in the third inning, but the Waves answered with five in the eighth. Wes Guenther and Alex Wolfe led BYU with two RBIs apiece.
SUU 8-7, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 8-7: At Cedar City, the T-Birds saw their early lead disappear in the first game of a doubleheader as the Jackrabbits rallied for an 8-7 win. The Thunderbirds then
returned the favor, erasing a 5-0 deficit to take an 8-7 win on a walk-off RBI single in extra innings.
Marcus Romero had an impressive day at the plate, collecting seven hits in 10 at-bats for four RBIs. The senior outfielder also recorded a double, a triple and scored four runs.