SALT LAKE CITY - TJ Bennett’s pinch-hit single in the 11th inning gave the University of Utah a 3-2 win over Utah Valley University on Tuesday night at Spring Mobile Ballpark.
Tyler Relf tripled to left center with one out in the ninth, and after two intentional walks to put a force on every base, came in to score on Bennett’s base hit to left.
It was the third time the Wolverines (9-12) have gone to extra innings in 2013 and the first time they’ve lost in extras. For the Utes (9-9), it was the first extra-inning affair of the season.
Utah Valley out-hit the Utes 7-5 but struck out a combined 14 times on the night against three different Utah pitchers.
“We're striking out way too much. We're chasing pitches out of the zone and it's been the same story over and over. We need some guys need to step up and make adjustments," UVU head coach Eric Madsen said. "Our pitchers have done a great job keeping us in games and we've got to find a way to scratch out more runs."
UVU starter Devin Nelson pitched seven-plus innings and allowed two runs on three hits. He struck out seven but walked three and hit two batters and went without a decision.
Mark Krueger doubled in the first, third and fifth and became the first Wolverine player this season to double three times in a game. His fifth inning double came with two outs and nobody on and was followed by a Kai Hatch double to left center, giving the Wolverines a 2-1 lead.
Nelson left a runner in scoring position in both the sixth and seventh innings to help preserve the Wolverine lead. He struck out AJ Young on a curveball in the sixth and got Cory Hunt to groundout to short to end a seventh-inning threat.
He lasted into the eighth before leaving with two on and no outs for Justin Campbell. Utah knotted it at 2-2 in the eighth on a sac-fly by Dallas Carroll and had the go-ahead runner at third with one out.
Campbell struck out Trey Nielson for the second out, and after hitting consecutive batters to load the bases, got Tyler Yagi to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the threat.
In addition to Krueger’s three-hit night, Hatch had two hits and drove in both UVU runs. Carroll had two of Utah’s five hits.
Both teams scored a single run in the first inning and that 1-1 tie held until the fifth. In the first, Beau Kallas was hit by a pitch to lead off the game, moved to third when Krueger blooped a double to right and then scored on a grounder by Hatch.
Josh Chapman (2-1) pitched 2.0 scoreless innings to get the win for Utah while Braden Poole (1-1) took the loss. The Utes got a big performance in relief from Luke West, who struck out six in 4.0 innings and retired 12 of the 14 batters he faced.
Utah makes the return trip to Orem on April 16 for a 6 p.m. start at Brent Brown Ballpark.
The Wolverines now head to Southern California to play a four-game series at Cal State Northridge of the Big West Conference. That series starts Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. MT and can be heard live on WolverineGreen.com.
Clint Burgi is the assistant athletic director for sports information at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.