Dropping two of three to Sacramento State was not the way the Wolverines wanted their visit to the Golden State end.
The Wolverines were coming off a two-game split in Tucson, Ariz. against defending national champion Arizona when they began their series against the Hornets of Sacramento State. The future conference foe won a pitching duel in game one, 1-0, overcoming an impressive complete game from Wolverine and reigning Great West pitcher of the year Adam Gunn. A senior from Santa Clara, Utah, Gunn held the Hornets to three hits and one run over eight stellar innings but did not receive the offensive support to notch the win.
“I thought Adam threw the ball really well,” said Head Coach Eric Madsen. “Obviously
we would’ve liked to have had a different result, but he was terrific in that game.”
The Wolverines were not out-hit by the Hornets in a single game of the series, totaling five hits in game one to the Hornets’ three. UVU’s best chance to tie the game came in the eighth, when sophomore Kade Andrus singled and was sacrificed to second. Freshman Beau Kallas then walked to put the go-ahead run on base ,but Sacramento State turned to its bullpen and was able to close out the win.
“We have to stay within the team approach [at the plate] that has led us to success,” Madsen said. “We’ve had some good practices this past weekend, so we just need to understand what we’re trying to do and not worry so much about the opposition.”
Game two saw the Wolverines even the series as junior Devin Nelson pitched 6.1 strong innings to pick up his first win at UVU. Nelson allowed four runs, two of which were unearned and struck out four. Freshman Stone Ramsey had three of the Wolverines’ 12 hits, scoring a run and driving in another over the course of the 6-4 victory.
The newcomer, Ramsey, who is from Tampa, Florida, again fueled the Wolverines offensively in the series finale, clubbing two doubles and driving in a pair of runs. The efforts were not enough as UVU fell, 10-3. The Wolverines matched the Hornets in hits, 9-9, but struggled to keep the Hornets off of the base paths, walking seven and allowing two additional base runners to reach after they were hit by a pitch.
The Wolverines are encouraged heading into their home opener on Thursday Mar. 7 by the solid individual performances that highlighted the beginning of the season.
“To finally open up at home, it’s going to be comforting I think,” said junior transfer Andrew Freter, who earned the win against defending national champion Arizona. “[It’s] something we’re used to. We’re used to our field; we’re used to our mound. Hopefully we’ll get our home crowd out, so it will be different than those other hostile environments that we’ve been playing in.”
Senior Kai Hatch was the latest Wolverine recognized by the Great West Conference, sharing player of the week honors with Sam Street of UTPA. Hatch hit .364 during UVU’s three-game series at the University of Portland, scoring the winning run in game one and driving home the winning runs in game two, helping the Wolverines win two of three.
The Wolverines still have to hit the road after hosting Nevada, being gone for over a month before returning to the Brent Brown Ballpark to host conference rival, Houston Baptist, on April 11. Until then, the Wolverines will be on the longest road trip of the season, hitting all the corners of the nation from Texas to California to New Jersey.
By Kyle Spencer