OREM — After losing four straight games, including three straight at Oregon State last weekend, Utah's baseball team seemed on its way to another defeat Tuesday night against in-state neighbor UVU at Brent Brown Ballpark.
Down five runs after the first inning, however, the Utes rallied for a 7-6 win over the Wolverines.
UVU jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the first frame, capitalizing on two Ute errors and playing smart small ball to advance runners and put pressure on Utah’s defense.
However, following the explosive first inning, UVU went cold and the Ute bullpen shut down the Wolverines bats.
Meanwhile, the Utes picked up one run in each of the third, sixth and seventh innings and then added three more in the eighth to pull out the come-from-behind victory.
"Our guys went away from what gave them success. The little things cost us tonight. They may not seem important at the time, but they cost us and they're huge," said UVU head coach Eric Madsen. "You've got to give Utah a lot of credit. They wanted to win a lot more than we did. They made a lot of good adjustments at the plate."
As tough of a loss as it was for the Wolverines, it was just as sweet of a win for Utah and head coach Bill Kinneberg.
"It's a testament to our team, particularly (pitcher) Luke West, that we continued to put zeros up after a disastrous first inning," Kinneberg said. "Our whole team hung in there and they battled, and in the end they won the last three innings. That's what we preach, and it happened for us today."
West entered in the second inning, putting out the fire for the Utes, striking out eight and allowing only one hit over six innings. Nick Green pitched the final 1 2/3 innings, picking up right where West left off, giving up just one hit to collect his second save on the season.
The winning run wasn’t without drama as Tyler Relf laid down a perfect squeeze bunt to bring home junior outfielder Braden Anderson to put the Utes up for good.
"Tyler read the third baseman, and that was an excellent decision on his part and an excellent execution of a drag bunt," Kinneberg said. "They opened the door for us and he took it. That was a big play for us."
Utah will open up a three-game set with USC on Friday at 6 p.m. MDT at Spring Mobile Ballpark. Meanwhile, UVU will hit the road to take on North Dakota.