UVU baseball sees run at NCAA history end as comeback falls short against Utah Utes
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
OREM, Utah — Utah Valley University's run at NCAA history was halted after a ninth-inning rally fell short, 11-10, to Utah on Tuesday in front of 4,739 fans at Brent Brown Ballpark.
The Wolverines (39-12) trailed by four runs entering the bottom of the ninth and rallied to get within a run, but UVU's 32-game win streak ended with the winning run on second.
Utah Valley will have to settle for a tie of the fourth-longest streak in the NCAA record book, along with the 1972 Arizona State and 1988 Fresno State teams. The 32 wins is the third-most games won consecutively, with the all-time streak at 34.
"I'm just very proud with the way our guys competed to the end," said UVU head coach Eric Madsen. "Our players just don't quit. They always seem to find a way to win. It didn't happen tonight, but that doesn't take anything away from what this team has done and what we hope to still do."
Utah Valley used a six-run second inning and added another in the third to take early control of the game with a 7-1 advantage.
Willie Pratt had a bases-loaded double to drive home the first two runs for UVU while Austin Heaps also had a two-run single in the inning.
Pratt's base hit brought home Kai Hatch in the third to extend the lead to six runs before Utah (14-35) would use a pair of three-run frames to tie the game at 7-7 in the fifth.
Shaun Cooper's two-run single highlighted the fourth and Ethan Leiter, who had a 4-for-5 game with three RBIs, tied it with a two-run home run in the fifth.
Utah took the lead in the sixth with a solo shot from Trey Nielsen before tacking on three more big insurance runs in the top of the ninth.
The Wolverines' ninth-inning comeback attempt started with a one-out single from Jake Rickenbach. With two outs, Billy Burgess added another base hit before an error prolonged the game and allowed Heaps to reach and load the bases.
Goose Kallunki, the nation's leader in runs batted in, plated two with a single to get UVU within two and give him 76 RBIs on the season. Hatch followed Kallunki with a double, scoring Heaps and making it 11-10 before Tyler Wagner struck out Alex Exon to end the game.
Nick Green (2-1) threw 4.2 innings in relief, allowing one run on three hits, to pick up the win while Ryan Chadwick (5-1) suffered the loss for UVU.
For the Wolverines, it's their first loss since March 22 against Sacramento State and just the second at Brent Brown Ballpark all season.
UVU now preps for the final Great West Conference series of the season, which begins Thursday against second-place Northern Colorado. The Wolverines, winners of three straight GWC regular season crowns, will go for their third straight conference tournament title starting next Tuesday in the opening round of the GWC Tournament.
Clint Burgi is the assistant athletic director for sports information at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.
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