Photo by Mykah Heaton
The UVU baseball team lost to BYU Tuesday night in front of about 4,000 fans at Brent Brown Ballpark. Tuesday’s game against the crosstown foe underscored some trends of this club that have come to light as UVU heads down the next stretch of this season. Here are some statistics that stand out midway through April.
The team was picked to finish fifth place in the WAC standings in the preseason coach’s poll. They currently sit in third place and have won seven of their last 12, including a win over the University of Utah on the road.
The Wolverines have been outscored by their opponents in each inning-by-inning summary, except for the eighth inning, where they hold an 18-17 edge. The fifth, sixth and seventh innings, when starting pitchers typically become taxed and hand the ball to middle relievers, have been especially worrisome. UVU sports minus-21, minus-18 and minus-18 run differentials in those innings, revealing a tendency to cough up a lot of runs and failure to answer back in the same right.
A positive for this team is that they have shown the ability to win close games, posting a 7-5 record in one- or two-run games. The stagnant offensive output that has plagued UVU at times has shown a team that has to keep the games close if they want to have a chance of winning. The Wolverines are 0-11 in games decided by five or more runs.
Centerfielder Jackson Overlund is batting .355 on the season and had clutch hits in the most recent home stand, but largely this is an underwhelming year on the offensive end. First baseman Trevor Peterson, who transferred from Salt Lake Community College, has had a very good year at the plate, batting .317. Kade Poulsen, the primary third baseman, is on the interstate with a .176 average. While Peterson is an excellent facilitator by getting on base, the 12 extra-base hits between he and Poulsen are not the power numbers you would like to see from a first-third combo. A good demonstration of how a more productive offense could benefit the Wolverines is the fact that when they score three runs or less, they’re 1-9, but hold an 8-9 record with four runs or more scored.
When UVU is trailing after six innings, it has come back to win just three times. It is especially ugly when the Wolverines go to bat after the eighth inning with a deficit as they have been unable to win any games with ninth-inning heroics, posting a 0-17 mark. UVU has scored only four runs in the ninth inning all season.
Comebacks may not be this ball club’s forte, but head coach Eric Madsen can count on a steady closer in Patrick Wolfe. The senior out of Reno, Nevada has seven saves on the season and has not blown a save opportunity. UVU has not lost a game when leading after the eighth inning and is 5-1 when leading after the seventh inning. This showcases a strong presence from the bullpen late in games and an ability to lock down the opponent when holding a lead.
“I don’t think we’ve played good all year. We’ve found a way to win some games, but we haven’t really played good all year and so we need to get on that roll,” Madsen said after the BYU game.
The defending WAC tournament champions have grinded thus far and still sit in a position where they can get hot and win the WAC, but for that to happen the run support must improve.