OREM — Utah Valley University's baseball team opened the 2012 Great West Conference Tournament with a 17-10 win in a slugfest Tuesday night at Brent Brown Ballpark.
The Wolverines, ranked No. 27 by the NCBWA and the top seed in the tournament, took a big lead early on the eighth-seeded Bears but saw that lead disappear before responding to pick up their 44th win of the season and fifth straight overall.
"It's good to win the first game but we had a lot of highs and lows. We got off to a good start and then decided not to play defense," said head coach Eric Madsen. "I'd like to see our guys get after it and play the way the game is supposed to be played — the way we do play. I was disappointed but pleased the way we responded."
Ryan Chadwick threw the final 5.1 innings and allowed just one run to get his sixth win of the year. It's the 18th win of his career, setting a new school record for career wins.
Billy Burgess was 1 for 1, scored three times and set a new school mark by reaching base four times on a hit-by-pitch. Alex Exon and Jake Rickenbach each had four hits with Exon doubling twice and driving in four and Rickenbach finishing with three RBIs. Goose Kallunki went 3 for 5 for the Wolverines (44-12).
The Wolverines sent 10 hitters to the plate in the first, building a 5-0 lead right out of the chute. Kallunki's RBI single on a 3-0 pitch scored Rickenbach to get things started. Kai Hatch had an RBI base hit and Exon an RBI double to make it 3-0 before Willie Pratt singled back up the middle to score two more.
UVU scored three more in the second to take an 8-0 lead before NYIT roared back with two in the third and seven in the fourth to take a 9-8 lead. An error helped extend the inning and aided in seven of the 10 runs on the night being unearned.
The Wolverines answered the seven-run inning for the Bears with four in the bottom half of the frame to regain the lead. Austin Heaps led off with a solo home run, his eighth of the season, to tie the game at 9-9. Exon had the go-ahead RBI single and Rickenbach doubled home two more.
Utah Valley got three more in the sixth and two in the eighth to pull away.
The Wolverines now face the fifth seed, Houston Baptist, which defeated Northern Colorado 10-4 in the third game of the day.
Clint Burgi is the assistant athletic director for sports information at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.