Shane Truskolaski/UVU Athletics
OREM, Utah — For the fourth straight game, Utah Valley University jumped out early on its way to finishing off a four-game sweep of the University Texas-Pan American, 13-3, on Saturday at Brent Brown Ballpark in front of 1,119 fans.
The Wolverines (26-11, 12-0 GWC) extended their school-record win streak to 19 games, using a four-run first to jump ahead quickly on the Broncs (21-11, 8-4). UVU outscored UTPA 18-0 in the first inning during a series in which both teams entered unbeaten in Great West Conference play and as two of the top offensive teams in the country.
“Our guys are so determined to try and win games that they’re focused right from the beginning. It’s a big deal to come in and score right away, and I think it took the wind out of their (UTPA’s) sails,” said head coach Eric Madsen. “I’m really pleased with how things went this weekend. We showed that if we can zone in and do what we’re capable of that we can have good results.”
Utah Valley's 19-game winning streak dates back to March 23 and currently ranks as the second-longest win streak in the country behind Baylor. The Wolverines also upped their nation-leading team batting average to .343.
Jake Rickenbach was hit by a pitch and Sean Moysh singled to begin the bottom of the first before Billy Burgess continued his torrid weekend at the plate with a triple to right center to give the Wolverines a 2-0 lead. Two batters later, Goose Kallunki doubled to left center — one of three doubles on the day for Kallunki — to bring home Burgess. Kallunki later scored on a double steal to make 4-0 after one.
In the second, after UTPA added a single run, Austin Heaps’ sac-fly brought in Rickenbach before Kallunki doubled again, plating Moysh and Burgess to make it 7-1.
The Broncs added runs in the fourth and fifth to cut it to a four-run game and got a solid relief effort from Jonathan Sa, who struck out six in 4.2 innings. Sa put three straight zeroes on the board before back-to-back doubles by Kai Hatch and Alex Exon in the sixth. Exon’s double scored Heaps and Hatch and extended the lead to 9-3.
The Wolverines then ended the game in the eighth via the 10-run rule by scoring four times. Kallunki led off the frame with a rocket off the wall in left and Hatch walked before another double by Exon scored Kallunki. Willie Pratt added another double — UVU’s seventh of the game — to score two more and then came in to score the final run on a base hit by Rickenbach.
The game-ending single extended Rickenbach’s hit streak to 20 games. He had been without an official at-bat in the game after he was hit by a pitch once and walked four times in his first five plate appearances.
Devin Nelson started and went 4.1 innings, allowing three runs on four hits, before giving way to Taylor Mangum. Mangum threw 3.2 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits.
Kallunki was 3-for-5 with three RBIs and how has driven in 51 on the year. He entered the day fifth in the nation in runs batted in. Kallunki was 9-for-17 (.529) with five doubles, three home runs and 11 batted in during the series. Exon finished 2-for-4 and also drove in three runs with Burgess’ triple helping him finish the weekend 9-for-14 (.643) with a home run, three doubles, a triple and eight RBIs.
The teams combined to play near-flawless defense. Utah Valley did not commit an error in the series and Texas-Pan American had just one.
The Wolverines will now host NJIT, which took three of four from North Dakota and moved into second place at 9-3 in league play, in a four-game set beginning next Thursday at 6 p.m.
Clint Burgi is the assistant athletic director for sports information at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit http://www.WolverineGreen.com
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