Baseball: Utes suffer tough one-run loss to UVU in home opener

3-3 baseball Chris Samuels

The Utah baseball team (7-14, 4-2 in Pac-12) fell to the Utah Valley Wolverines 7-6 on Wednesday, March 30, in the Utes’ home opener. For the first time in 2016, the Utes played in front of their home crowd at Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City, but they weren’t able to walk away with the win.

“The results weren’t good, but it was nice to be at home. We’ve got to learn to play here and be the home team [after 20 straight road games],” said head coach Bill Kinneberg.

After a slow start to the season, the Utes performed well the previous two weekends against Pac-12 opponents, whereas the Wolverines (14-12, 2-1 in WAC) are off to a solid start on the new campaign. UVU has now beaten three Pac-12 opponents: Oregon State, Washington State and Utah.

Riley Ottesen (0-2, 6.89 ERA) started on the mound for Utah, throwing for four innings, allowing one run on three hits and four strikeouts. Andre Jackson (7.27 ERA) entered in the top of the fifth, throwing for 1 2/3 innings, allowing three runs before Trenton Stoltz took over. Stoltz (3.86 ERA) also threw 1 2/3 innings, allowing three runs. Dylan Drachler would only survive 2/3 of an inning before being replaced by Josh Tedeschi, who finished the night for the Utes, throwing one hitless inning.

Offensively, Utah was led by Dallas Carroll, who went 4-for-5 on the night, and Hunter Simmons, 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Utah also had two hits from both DaShawn Keirsey, Jr. and Cody Scaggari. The Utes were aggressive on the bases with four steals on the evening, and despite scoring one fewer run, the Utes out-hit UVU, 14-10.

“We can’t leave so many runners on base [11 runners left on base] and we need to capitalize on the opportunities that the other team gives us,” Carroll said. “At the same time, we need to flush this one and look forward to coming out and playing Arizona.”

Utah led for the majority of the game, up until the top of the eighth, where they were unable to finish off the talented Wolverines. Competitive games like these, which come down to the wire, truly test young teams like Utah.

Utah is looking to win its third consecutive Pac-12 series this upcoming weekend after winning just three total in the four previous years in the conference.

“We need to put this one away and learn from it,” Kinneberg said.

The Utes will return to Smith’s Ballpark on Friday to host Arizona in the first of a three-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. MT.