Utes look to end losing streak against Wolverines

Braden Anderson rounds third base at Smith’s Ballpark last year. — Erin Burns Colby Patterson
Braden Anderson rounds third base at Smith’s Ballpark last year. Photo by Erin Burns.

Braden Anderson rounds third base at Smith’s Ballpark last year. Photo by Erin Burns.

When the Utes take the field tonight at Smith’s Ballpark, they will be trying to put last weekend behind them before taking on in-state rival UVU.

Utah (8-10) is coming off a four-game losing streak, including a weekend sweep at the hands of fourth-ranked Oregon State. The Utes only managed to muster up two runs in three games against the Beavers.

“We didn’t handle it very well,” head coach Bill Kinneberg said. “I’m disappointed in that part … again, their pitchers were outstanding. Scoring two runs in three ball games is not a good effort offensively.”

For the fourth consecutive game, Utah will be playing at home, and Kinneberg knows how vital it is to get wins while in the confines of their own ballpark. A win against the Wolverines would be the first home win for the Utes this season.
“It’s a great ballpark,” Kinneberg said. “We’ll get used to it, and we will win some games here.”

Fortunately for Utah, the players echo their coach’s attitude and love the ambience the ballpark brings. Senior Braden Anderson admits he loves competing in Salt Lake City and is very excited to play in front of a home crowd again on Tuesday.

“It’s great,” he said. “I love this atmosphere: great field, great fans, great crew. It’s always a great time.”

Competing with four straight losses, Utah is going against a team that is in the same boat. The Wolverines are 5-14 on the year and on a losing streak of their own, losing their last two games. With sophomore Dalton Carroll getting the start on the mound, the Utes hope they can end their losing streak and, in turn, add to UVU’s. Utah knows how vital it is to regain the form they had earlier in the season and that getting this win can be a springboard for the next few games.

“Obviously getting swept, we are down,” Anderson said. “We’re going to forget about this game and forget about this series and just look forward to UVU. That’s the biggest day of the year, the next game. We look at every day as the biggest day of the year.”

Although not as heated as their rivalry with BYU, the Utes recognize the bad blood between them and the Wolverines. Anderson said he believes some UVU players might be sour because they weren’t recruited to Utah. No matter how UVU feels, the Utes know they will be seeing the best of the Wolverines come game time.

“They’re going to come out and play really hard on Tuesday night,” Anderson said. “They always play us hard, and they always play well, so we just have to play even harder than them. We got to come out ready to play. We got to get ourselves going on a winning streak.”

Kinneberg views the game against UVU as a stepping stone to how the team will play out the rest of the season. Getting back to the winning ways is essential, and Kinneberg feels his team can rebound well against the Wolverines.

“[UVU] will be a good barometer for us,” Kinneberg said. “That was the thing I talked about in our postgame meeting. Some how, some way we have to flush this weekend and get a good taste in our mouth … We’re on the road the next two weekends against ranked teams again, so Tuesday is really important for us.”

i.smith@chronicle.utah.edu