This road trip for UVU has been a bumpy one, but it is only the beginning of a long stretch. The Wolverines started their season in Seattle, dropping two of the three games they played against the Redhawks.
The first of the three-game set saw Jeremy Glendlek take the mound and give up an uncharacteristic four earned runs over a five-inning span. UVU’s bats were asleep as they only pushed across two runs and five hits in the loss. The second game was postponed and turned into a doubleheader on Sunday where the bats woke up. The Wolverines hit the ball 16 times and scored 15 times in the first game, winning behind Blake Krahenbuhl’s effort, only giving up two runs in five innings.
The second game of the doubleheader, as well as the Arizona game played two days later, had a similar ending. The Wolverines were up 4-0 in the bottom of the seventh before giving up five runs in that inning and four in the next. Although the Wolverines scored three runs in the ninth, they came up short to lose that game 9-7.
“We have to beat those teams,” head coach Eric Madsen said. “If we beat those teams, we put ourselves in a really good position. We need to improve our focus and recognize our responsibilities.”
In Tucson, Ariz., UVU came out strong being up 5-1 in the fourth inning on No. 8 Arizona. But as the game rolled on, Arizona decided to show up and scored three times in the fourth and fifth innings and sealed the deal with six runs in the sixth. Goose Kallunki batted in two runs in the effort and after four games, while batting .471. Madsen believes these games are must-win situations, but also understand that there’s still work to be done.
“We really played really well,” Madsen said. “But we have to do a better job controlling the damage.”
On that same note, Kallunki has confidence in his team to play better.
“That is the level we can compete in,” Kallunki said about facing off with No. 8 Arizona. “We just couldn’t pull it together. But it wasn’t like we were starstruck. We were pretty confident we were going to win that game.”
After a year and a half of not playing on the field because of an injury, Jake Rickenbach returned to the team and is already making an impact on and off the field. He has the second highest on-base percentage (.421) and is batting a .267 for his team. But off the field, it is his intangibles that are making the difference.
“It was really the leadership that we missed last season,” Kallunki said about his teammate. “It makes us a little more confident. He’s back and he is another confidence booster for us.”
UVU’s confidence may be enough to take down No. 16 Cal State Fullerton when they face them in a three-game set starting Friday, March 2.
By Alex Rivera