OREM, Utah — Utah Valley clung to a 1-0 lead over Utah State with just three outs to go but gave up the game-tying home run in the top of seventh and went on to fall in extra innings, 3-1, Tuesday afternoon at Wolverine Field.
"It's frustrating because we've lost our last three games the same way," said UVU assistant coach Rachel Hartgrove, referring to a pair of losses last weekend to Portland State. "We are having trouble executing and making the necessary adjustments."
Needing a run to stay alive, USU (11-22) got a huge at-bat to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning from Kelley Kaneshiro. On the first pitch from UVU's Cassie Herrera (6-3), the Aggie shortstop belted her fourth home run of the year over the center field wall, tying the score at 1-1. USU kept the heat on in the ensuing at-bats as Hailey Froton singled to left, then advanced to second on a fielding error. With the Aggies threatening to take the lead, Herrera regained control, retiring the next three batters to preserve the tie.
The game headed to extras after UVU (20-11-1) failed to score in the bottom of the inning, going down in order. Neither team threatened in the eighth, but USU made its move after opening the top of the ninth with back-to-back singles from Christine Thomsen and Kaneshiro.
Froton, the next Aggie hitter, laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third, then Lindsey Marquez looked to bring in the go-ahead run on a sac-bunt of her own. Tiffany Mills, pitching the ninth inning for UVU (20-11-1), fielded Marquez's bunt, but her flip to home plate was behind Thomsen as the Aggies jumped in front 2-1. But "time" was not called by the home plate umpire after the score, so when the Wolverines assumed a stoppage in play and turned their backs to return to the field, Kaneshiro raced home for USU, making the advantage 3-1.
A two-out double from Stephanie Likos kept UVU's hopes alive in the bottom of the ninth, but Aggie pitcher Dani Chaplin got Schulz to ground out to third base, securing USU's 11th win of the season. The Wolverines' lone run came in the first inning behind a bases-loaded walk. Jessica Uresti started the inning for UVU with a leadoff double, and two batters later, Amanda Robinson took first after a walk. With Uresti and Robinson on, reigning Great West Conference Player of the Week Jamie North grounded right back to Chaplin, but the pitcher's throw to third for the force-out sailed wide, setting the table for Amanda Perez's RBI walk in the next at-bat.
UVU's chances were limited for much of the game as USU's Chaplin was dominant in the circle, finishing the game with no earned runs and a season-high 11 strikeouts in nine innings of work. The Wolverines' best opportunity came in the bottom of the fifth when they again loaded the bases after North worked a two-out walk with runners on first and second. But Perez was unable to extend UVU's modest 1-0 lead, going down swinging to give Chaplin her third K of the inning.
Likos and Uresti were the only Wolverines to register hits in the ballgame, with the former putting together a 2-for-4 performance.
The Wolverines return to action on Wednesday when the Rainbow Wahine of No. 15 Hawaii roll into Orem for a 5 p.m. contest at Wolverine Field.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.