OREM — Utah Valley University drove home three runs in the eighth to break a 3-3 tie and earn a 6-3 victory over the University of Utah in midweek action on Tuesday night at UCCU Ballpark.
Kade Poulsen started the eighth-inning rally for the Wolverines (10-30) with a leadoff double and later came around to score the go-ahead run on an RBI bloop-single from Kody Hall to give Utah Valley a 4-3 advantage. With two on and two out, Ryan Eastburn then later plated a pair of insurance runs with a two-run double to left-center to extend UVU's lead to 6-3.
"I was really pleased with how the team competed throughout the entire game," head UVU coach Eric Madsen said. "This was a good game tonight and is definitely something that our fans deserve to see."
UVU got solid pitching from a trio of hurlers on the night led by a 6.1-inning quality start from freshman right-hander Mason Gray. Gray allowed just three runs while striking out three and scattering five hits on his way to giving the Wolverines a chance in the contest. Logan Petet then pitched a scoreless inning of relief and closer Jesse Schmit (4-5) followed with an inning and two-thirds of shutout action to earn the win. As a staff, UVU limited the Pac-12 Utes (12-22) to just nine hits on the day.
"I thought that our entire staff pitched well," Madsen said. "Mason definitely pitched well enough to win for us and I was very pleased with his performance. Our relievers were also solid on the night. Utah does a good job offensively, so I was pleased with all of our pitchers' efforts."
Four Wolverines finished with multi-hit outings on the day led by a 3-for-4 outing from Hall and a 2-for-3 performance from Drew Sims. Hall also scored a run and drove one home, while Sims drove home two runs behind a two-run homer in the sixth. Eastburn and Trevor Howell too finished with two-hit outings for UVU.
The Wolverines jumped out to an early advantage after driving home an unearned first-inning run to take a 1-0 lead. With Howell leading from third and Eastburn from first after early singles, Alexander Marco got UVU on the board with an RBI single to left center. The Utes then responded with a two-out, two-run double to right from Jayden Kiernan in the second to take a 2-1 lead.
UVU starter Gray settled down from there, as he pitched four consecutive scoreless innings to keep it a 2-1 contest into the sixth.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Wolverines offense responded with a two-run home run off the bat of the catcher Sims to regain a 3-2 advantage. Mick Madsen started the sixth-inning rally with a one-out single and Sims later blasted out the two-run shot over the wall in left-center to give the Wolverines the lead.
Utah then got a run back in the seventh thanks to a two-out RBI hit from Jayden Kiernan to tie the game at 3-3.
Still 3-3 in the last of the eighth, Poulsen started off the frame for the Wolverines with a leadoff double to left. Sims then moved Poulsen to third with a groundout to the right side and Hall followed with a bloop single over the drawn in infield to plate Poulsen and give UVU the lead. Later with two-on and two-out, Eastburn plated a pair of insurance runs with a two-run double to left-center to extend UVU's lead to 6-3.
The Utes then got two runners on in the top of the ninth, but UVU's Schmit responded by striking out two in the frame to help preserve the victory for the Wolverines.
With the victory, UVU splits the two-game season series with the Utes at one game apiece.Comment on this story
Utah reliever Nick Caviglia (0-1) was tagged with the loss for the Utes after giving up the go-ahead run in the eighth. Kiernan led Utah at the plate in the game by going 2-for-3 with all three runs batted in.
The Wolverines will now hit the road for the first of two consecutive WAC series in the state of California this weekend (April 26-28) when it takes on CSU Bakersfield for a three-game set. The first game of the series is set for Friday at 7 p.m. MDT/6 p.m. PDT at CSUB's Hardt Field in Bakersfield.
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