The young Wolverine baseball team is weary of playing distant away games. Dropping five straight games will emotionally fatigue any team. A short stay at home and a pit stop to play in Provo against in-state rival BYU is in order to revitalize the team that consists of only eight seniors. UVU then end its season high 15-game road trip in New Jersey versus conference foe NJIT.
Issues at the plate continued in the Wolverines most recent trip to California, batting just .222 (28-126) over a four game series versus Cal State Northridge. The Wolverines were swept by the Matadors and lost three of the four games by two runs or less. UVU stranded base runners throughout the series, failing to capitalize with runners in scoring position.
“Those were really tough games on the road,” said Head Coach Eric Madsen. “We lost close games by one or two runs [but] we have had a lot of positives lately. The pitching has been consistently good. There were opportunities to eliminate runs defensively and produce runs. We just got to continue to get better.”
One game was shortened to seven innings by weather. The trip to the northern region of Los Angeles proved the most difficult of UVU’s three trips to the golden state this year. The ability to practice in Orem to prepare for in-state rival BYU provides time to improve. The fact that the Wolverines get to challenge their neighbors of the south offers additional motivation.
“It’s always an exciting opportunity to play against in-state rivals,” Coach Madsen said. “Everybody wants the bragging rights of being the best in the state. So everybody gets excited and they’re emotional baseball games.”
UVU missed its first chance to secure local bragging rights when it lost at the University of Utah prior to traveling to Northridge. The Wolverines also play home games against the Utes and Cougars next month. However, the team remains focused on its first priority, winning another conference championship.
“Conference play turns into a whole new season,” Madsen said. “Guys get a new light. They may have been down because of their batting average or personal statistics. The chance to compete for a conference title brings new energy to the season. You know the chance to play more home games is giant.”
The Wolverines open the Great West battle by putting their
28-game conference winning streak on the line in Newark, New Jersey. UVU has never lost to NJIT. The Wolverines currently sit in third place in the GWC but the familiarity of playing against conference foes has always been beneficial to UVU baseball teams. UVU is 76-4 all-time in the GWC.
UVU plays at Larry Miller Ballpark in Provo on Tuesday, Apr. 2. Conference play then resumes after the trip to New Jersey with the Wolverines finally getting to play their second home series of the year. Houston Baptist will be in Orem for a four game series April 11-13.
By Kyle Spencer