Going out on top

It took one stretch of unfathomably perfect play for the New York Giants to win the Super Bowl this year. Time and time again in sports, a team gets hot at the right moment and coasts to achieve greatness. While Utah Valley has struggled through most of the season with a 17-35-1 record, the Wolverines have been on a tear lately to finish the season with wins over teams with national precedence.

The magic started with a surprising 11-3 drumming of the nationally ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys. The ninth-ranked Cowboys were the highest ranked team the Wolverines had ever beaten.

In a near perfect performance from pitcher Bryan Smith, who struck out 11, and with Adam Openshaw’s early home run, the Wolverines jumped all over the Cowboys and, maybe more importantly, got a legal shot of something called confidence.
The side effects of the shot carried over into Utah Valley’s game the following night against cross-town rival BYU. With Moore on the hill and over 3,000 fans in attendance, the Wolverines silenced the Cougars with an 11-4 dominating victory behind Jace Brinkerhoff’s three-run bomb in the first. It was an emotional win for Gardner as his team continued its magical mystery baseball tour of convincing wins over the elite college baseball teams in the country.

The Wolverines fell short in their three game series with the Arizona Wildcats, who came into the series as the 19th-ranked team in the country. The speed bump merely slowed Utah Valley down as they traveled to Corvallis, Oregon to take on the defending champion Beavers.

After stumbling in the first game of the series, Utah Valley rebounded with a crushing 11-6 win over the Beavers. A fourth inning grand slam by Utah Valley’s Cole Anderson cemented the win as the Wolverines built an 11-0 lead before the Beavers knew what hit them. Moore pitched eight innings for Utah Valley and struck out six Oregon State batters on the way to the win.

To end the 2008 campaign, the Wolverines made the long trip across the Pacific Ocean to play a series with the University of Hawaii. Behind Utah Valley pitcher Dan Christenson’s third complete game of the season, the Wolverines won the series opener 5-1.

"It’s a great way to go out; end it on a high note," Christensen said. "It was great to have my teammates playing so well behind me."

Utah Valley’s Kevin Arendse hit two home runs in the game and became the Wolverines’ first player to do so in nearly a year. His first blast came in the second to break a scoreless tie and his second homer came in the sixth to give the Wolverines the lead back.

In the series and season finale the Wolverines escaped with a 2-0 win to send Gardner out with his 471st career win as a Wolverine. It was also the final game for senior Moore, who won a school record 10 games in the year.

"I’m just so happy to come over here and win two games," Gardner said. "I’m thrilled to death we could send Marcus and the rest of the seniors out with a win."

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