The Utah Valley Wolverines looked to keep their bats hot on a chilly evening when the Utah Utes came to town last Tuesday.
UVU, the nation’s fourth-best hitting team, ran into a buzz as the Utes used a fast start and stellar pitching to escape with a 5-3 victory over the Wolverines.
UVU entered the game hitting .358 and had the nation’s leading hitter in Chris Benson riding a 24-game hitting streak, but Utah’s pitchers stifled Wolverine batters all night long, scattering eight hits while striking out 15.
Orem native Andrew Wilding picked up the win for the Utes while whiffing seven UVU batters.
Wilding got some help from the offense right from the beginning as C.J. Cron blasted a two-run shot over the centerfield wall in the top of the first. Utah would add another run in the inning to make it 3-0.
In the top of the fifth, the Utes threatened to put some more runs on the board with three runners on base, but UVU reliever Kyle Beecher retired Cron to end their threat.
The Wolverines then went on the offensive in the bottom of the fifth. With the bases loaded, UVU’s Sage Thorpe hit a hard grounder at the second baseman that bounced off his chest as two Wolverines scored, making the game 3-2.
The Utes extended their lead again in the sixth when Nik Gumeson went yard to extend Utah’s lead to two. After a Wolverine throwing error, the Utes plated another run and led it 5-2.
With runners on second and third in the bottom of the sixth, the Wolverines threatened to cut Utah’s lead to one again, but Utah reliever Zach Adams fanned one past UVU’s Kirk Doxey, ending the inning.
UVU would get runners on the corners in the eighth with one out when Goose Kallunki brought home Benson on a sacrifice fly and cut the deficit to two.
UVU head coach Eric Madsen had nothing but good things to say about Utah’s flame throwers.
“Utah threw the ball well,” said Madsen. “I would have liked to see us do a little better job at the plate. Utah just played a little better than us tonight.”
UVU will look to heat up their bats once again as they travel to Chicago to face conference opponent Chicago State April 23-25.