OREM, Utah — Utah Valley University rallied to win the opener of a Friday doubleheader, 3-2, before Houston Baptist held on to win the nightcap, 5-3, in Great West Conference action at Brent Brown Ballpark.
Both teams used sixth-inning rallies to pick up their respective victories. The Wolverines (14-19, 5-2), without a run after five innings in the opener, scored three times in the sixth. In the nightcap, the Huskies (14-16-1, 4-3) scored four times in the sixth to pick up their first win ever over UVU. Utah Valley had won the first 18 meetings between the teams.
“We did a good job of competing to the very end in both games, but we just left too many guys on base and didn’t put enough pressure on their starters early on,” UVU head coach Eric Madsen said. “Houston Baptist is a good team and you have to give them credit. They played well enough to win both games today.”
In the first game, Riley White delivered the game winning hit, a two-run, two-out single in the bottom of the sixth off HBU closer Jake Gonzalez. The Wolverines trailed from the third inning on before rallying in the sixth inning of the scheduled seven-inning contest.
Jeff Barto retired the side in order in the seventh to pick up his third save and preserve a win for Devin Nelson. Nelson (3-3) pitched six innings and allowed two runs on four hits while striking out five.
Earlier in the first game, Luke Clements hit a solo home run to put Houston Baptist in front in the third. The Huskies added another in the inning with a two-out single by Gonzalez that scored Jordan McCoy, who has reached base successfully in every game this season.
Starter Ryan Lower limited Utah Valley to just two hits through five innings but was lifted after a one-out single by Mark Krueger in the sixth.
The Huskies went to Gonzalez and after Court Zollinger reached on a fielder’s choice, Willie Pratt worked a walk to put two on and two out. Jordy Hart got the Wolverines on the board with a double past third that scored Zollinger and put two in scoring position before White’s hit, on a 3-2 pitch, turned in the game-winner.
In the second game, Utah Valley struck first with three in the third inning, getting a pair of two-out singles to drive in the trio of runs. White singled home Pratt and Hart, who both walked to reach earlier in the frame. After White then stole second, Kade Andrus’ single to right scored him for the early 3-0 lead.
The Wolverines led 3-1 until the fateful sixth, with the first four HBU hitters in the inning all reaching base and scoring. Gonzalez delivered a two-run double to tie the game at 3-3 before Bradley Brown hit a sacrifice fly to give Houston Baptist a 4-3 lead. Mike Chamberlain singled home Gonzalez a batter later to extend the lead to two runs.
The Wolverines threatened late but stranded two runners on in both the eighth and ninth innings. With two on and one out in the ninth, Andrus lined a shot to left but right at Clements for the second out. Kobie Hajdik then got Hatch on a hard line drive, again to Clements, to end the game.
“It was unfortunate to see us hit the balls so well there in the ninth in and not have it work out but that’s baseball. We’ll get back at it on Saturday,” Madsen said.
Andrew Freter (2-3) took the loss for Utah Valley while Brandon Hammerly (1-4) pitched 7.2 innings to get the win. Hajdik picked up his first save.
White had two hits and two RBIs while Greyson Bogden also had a pair of hits for the Wolverines. Clements, McCoy and Gonzalez each had two hits, combining for six of Houston Baptist’s seven hits.
Utah Valley will go for the series win on Saturday with a 1 p.m. first pitch.
Clint Burgi is the assistant athletic director for sports information at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company