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UVU baseball: Wolverines capture third-straight GWC tournament title

By Clint Burgi

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, May 26 2012 8:36 p.m. MDT

Utah Valley's Taylor Berg, Jeremy Gendlek, Alex Exon and Josh Swenson celebrate after winning the Wolverines' third-straight GWC Tournament championship.

David Iba/UVU Athletics

OREM, Utah -- Billy Burgess’ two-run blast broke a 4-4 tie and sparked a five-run eighth inning as Utah Valley University (47-12) captured its third-straight Great West Conference Tournament Championship, 10-6, over Houston Baptist on Saturday at Brent Brown Ballpark.

The win is No. 47 on the season for the 27th-ranked Wolverines, who have won 40 of their last 41 games and 45 of 49. The team will await Monday’s NCAA Tournament Selection Show in hopes of earning their first-ever NCAA regional berth.

“We’ve done everything we can to control our destiny. 40 out of 41, that’s incredible,” said head coach Eric Madsen. “Our guys have stayed together all year. They did an unbelievable job of never panicking and trusting each other.”

Burgess, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored in the championship. He hit .500 (7-for-14) overall during the week with two home runs and eight RBIs. Alex Exon, Jake Rickenbach and Cole Butcher also joined Burgess on the All-Tournament Team.

Austin Heaps started UVU’s eighth inning rally with a leadoff single. After Burgess’ homer, Kai Hatch singled, and Exon doubled to put runners on second and third. Butcher then drove home Hatch with a double to right. Rickenbach brought both Exon and Butcher home on a two-run base hit to put the Wolverines up 9-4.

Houston Baptist (28-33) managed to push home two runs in the eighth, but Exon got one back in the ninth with a solo home run to left.

In the bottom of the ninth, Josh Swenson pitched around a leadoff double by retiring the next three hitters to set off a dog pile just past the pitcher's mound.

Jeremy Gendlek started for the Wolverines on three days rest and allowed four runs and struck out four in 6.1 innings. Swenson picked up the win (3-0) as he pitched the final 2.1 innings of relief and gave up just three hits and two runs, while striking out one.

Exon led UVU offensively by going 4-for-5 in the championship game with two RBIs and three runs scored. Fellow All-Tournament Team members Burgess, Butcher and Rickenbach also each tallied two hits apiece for the Wolverines.

Six players recorded two hits for the Huskies, while Josh Foust and Collin Hetzler also drove home a pair of runs.

The Wolverines went 28-0 during the regular season in conference play and a perfect 4-0 this week and are now 12-0 all-time in Great West Tournament games.

Fans can attend the selection show watching party on Monday at 10 a.m. at Centre Stage on the Utah Valley campus. It is located next to the cafeteria in the Sorenson Student Center.

2012 GWC Baseball All-Tournament Team Jonathan Carpen, Chicago State Kolby Arnst, Houston Baptist Jake Gonzalez, Houston Baptist Collin Hetzler, Houston Baptist Jeff Campbell, North Dakota Kris Kwak, North Dakota Andrew Thome, North Dakota Tony Crudo, Northern Colorado Jake Johnson, Northern Colorado Angel Ibanez, Texas-Pan American Billy Burgess, Utah Valley - Tournament MVP Cole Butcher, Utah Valley Alex Exon, Utah Valley Jake Rickenbach, Utah Valley

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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