It’s unreal beating these guys, but it’s something we always knew we could do. —Utah senior Wade Gulden
Fans at Smith’s Ballpark Thursday were part of a big night of Utah baseball as the Utes knocked off the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, Oregon State, 8-7.
It didn’t come easy.
With Utah leading 8-6, and reliever Trenton Stoltz tiring after pitching four solid innings, Utah coach Bill Kinneberg brought in 6-foot-5, 230-pound sophomore Jacob Rebar with one out and runners on second and third. Rebar had a 13-pitch duel with Oregon State’s Trevor Larnach before punching him out with a strikeout. One pitch later, Rebar threw a wild pitch that allowed one runner to score. Rebar popped up OSU’s Preston Jones to clinch a monstrous win for the Ute baseball program.
“Stoltz gave us four really great innings and gave us a chance to win,” Kinneberg said. “Rebar got two really big outs, and that’s exactly what this ball club needed was some clutch pitching.”
Senior Wade Gulden uncorked a triple to start the fourth inning, finishing with two hits and a walk while scoring three runs for a fired-up Utah offense. Gulden and the Utes were 4-19 coming into the game, but the first baseman says this win is something that can give the squad some momentum.”
“It’s unreal beating these guys, but it’s something we always knew we could do,” Gulden said.
After a scoreless first, the high-powered Beaver offense got on the board as Jack Anderson roped a one-out double to right center. Michael Gretler drove in Anderson with an up-the-middle single to put Oregon State up 1-0. The Utes got out of a one-out, runners on first and second jam when shortstop Matt Richardson fielded a hard shot up the middle, stepped on second and fired to first for an inning-ending double play.
The Utes manufactured a run in their half of the second inning as Davis Delorefice walked and advanced on a sacrifice bunt from Gulden. Dominic Foscalina reached on a walk before Oregon State pitcher Kevin Abel was called for a balk, advancing runners to second and third. Richardson’s hard shot to third was bobbled and Delorefice scored to tie the game at 1-1.
After a scoreless third inning, the Beavers threatened again in the fourth. Josh Tedeschi gave up a single and walked a runner. After Anderson dropped a bloop single to center, the Utes faces a bases-loaded with no outs scenario.
Tedeschi dug deep, striking out Gretler on a nasty off-speed pitch. The next batter hit a hard shot to short that Richardson fielded cleanly to initiate a 6-4-3 double play that got the Utes out of the inning.
“The double plays were big time moments,” Gulden said. “Oliver Dunn and Matt Richardson are pretty dynamic, so it felt good seeing the ball go off the bat and knowing they were going to get to it.”
Gulden scalded a pitch to the wall for a triple to start the fourth inning for Utah. After Foscalina was hit with a pitch, pinch-runner Shea Kramer entered the lineup with runners at first and third. A Richardson bunt scored Gulden before Chris Rowan Jr. provided the big blow, a double over the Oregon State center-fielder, that scored Foscalina and Richardson to put the Utes up 4-1 after four.
With starting pitcher Tedeschi tiring, the Utes inserted Spencer Kevin Johnson, who after a wild pitch found himself with the bases loaded and facing Larnach, the Beavers clean-up hitter. Larnach drilled a pitch over the wall for a grand-slam and the Utes trailed 5-4.
Oregon State added a run in their half of the sixth to lead 6-4 before the Utes came charging back. Gulden, Shea Kramer and DaShawn Keirsey Jr. scored as the Utes regained the lead 7-6.
Gulden walked two in the seventh inning and eventually scored from first on a Shea Kramer double that put the Utes up 8-6.
“Our guys really competed well tonight,” Kinneberg said. “They did a nice job against a great team.”
Utah improved to 5-19 on the season and 2-2 in Pac-12 play.
The two teams will square off Friday at Smith’s Ballpark with the first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m.