OREM — Utah Valley University scored twice in the bottom of the ninth to stave off an upset at the hands of Houston Baptist University in the winner’s bracket of the 2012 Great West Baseball Tournament.
The 27th-ranked Wolverines (45-12) trailed 8-7 entering their final at-bat and got a leadoff walk to Cole Butcher to start the inning. Jake Rickenbach blooped a single into right center before both players moved up on a balk.
Sean Moysh hit a sacrifice fly to score Butcher and tie the game at 9-9 before an intentional walk to Goose Kallunki put two on with one out. Later, with two outs in the inning, Billy Burgess hit a slow chopper towards third that Curtis Jones charged and tried to get Burgess at first with. But the throw got away, allowing Rickenbach to score the winning run from second.
“What a great team effort — it’s that plain and simple. These guys absolutely refuse to lose. We had a lot of bad luck and it seemed like everything was going against us and our guys just found a way to come out on top,” said head coach Eric Madsen.
HBU scored first before a three-run second, highlighted by a two-run triple from Butcher, gave UVU a 3-1 lead.
The Huskies (25-32) continued to swing their bats well, though, putting pressure on the Wolverine pitchers and defense nearly every inning.
HBU lead 5-3 after a three-run fourth before Burgess delivered a three-run, go-ahead home run to left in the fifth.
Houston Baptist add three in the sixth when Jones tripled home three, giving the Huskies another two-run advantage. UVU cut it to with a run in the eight before entering the ninth needing one to tie and two to win.
The Wolverines won despite being outhit 15-8. Josh Swenson threw 1.2 scoreless innings and struck out a pair to pick up the win while Jake Gonzalez was tagged with the loss for Houston Baptist.
Utah Valley advances to the winner’s bracket final to face 6th-seeded North Dakota. The Fighting Sioux won 1-0 behind a two-hit shutout by Andrew Thome in the opener and then got a solid pitching performance and a six-RBI day from Jeff Campbell to top No. 2 Texas-Pan American, 18-7, on Wednesday.
The Utah Valley- North Dakota game is slated to start at 6 p.m. MT with the winner moving into Saturday's championship game.
Clint Burgi is the assistant athletic director for sports information at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.