The first rendition of the UCCU Crosstown Clash of 2022 went the way of the BYU Cougars, as the Utah Valley baseball team fell 12-5 at a breezy UCCU Ballpark in Orem on Tuesday, March 22.
The Wolverines’ pitching woes continued as their losing streak was extended to five games. The wind was blowing all night out to center field, aiding four home runs and causing trouble for the outfielders.
“We have to be better in every aspect of the game,” said UVU head coach Eddie Smith. “The thing I love about this team is they keep coming. Their energy’s been great. They play together. They don’t get down on each other. We’re not going to get used to losing. We’re going to keep getting after it and we’re gonna turn some of these games into W’s for us.”
BYU jumped on the board with a pair of runs in the top of the first inning. Cole Gambill reached on a walk and Ryan Sepede singled with one out. Both runners advanced to second and third on a passed ball then came around to score on a throwing error by Kayler Yates.
The Cougars added on again in the second inning on what was nearly back-to-back home runs. Jacob Wilk hit a towering fly ball that carried in the blustery wind off the wall in right-center field for a double, then Alex Sardina jumped on a 1-1 pitch for a home run over left field.
Cameron Scudder was the opener for the Wolverines, making way for Carson Brown following the throwing error in the first. After giving up the longball to Sardina, Brown settled in retiring eight of the next 10 Cougars including striking out the side in the fourth.
“Carson Brown had another good outing out of the bullpen,” said Smith. “We’re looking for a few more guys to step up. Obviously there’s some opportunities and we’re giving guys opportunities to grow their roles.”
Blake Zeleny came on to relieve Brown in the fifth and retired the first batter of the inning. Gambill then jumped on the first pitch he saw from the lefty and smoked it over the right field wall for a one-out solo home run. Sepede followed that with a walk and came around to score on an opposite-field single from Leatham, who fought off a few pitches before punching the ball over the first baseman Mick Madsen.
Yates broke up the Cougars’ combined no-hitter in the bottom of the fifth with a double that was too hot to handle for BYU shortstop Brock Watkins, whose diving effort came up short. Copper Hansen clobbered the next pitch from the Cougars’ Carter Smith over the centerfielder for an RBI triple.
The Wolverines added another run in the sixth after a pair of hit-by-pitches and a passed ball put two runners in scoring position with nobody out. Garrett Broussard brought the runner in from third with a groundout, but UVU was unable to capitalize any further.
BYU got those runs back and then some off of Hunter Tueller in the seventh after a single from Watkins and another pair of hit-by-pitches loaded the bases. Mason Strong fought off a series of tough pitches before lining a two-RBI single up the middle.
The Cougars continued to pour it on when Sardina blooped a single down the right field to drive in two and Wilk scored on a passed ball. Mitch McIntyre doubled in Sardina to balloon the lead up to 10 at 12-2.
The Wolverines showed some life in the bottom half of the seventh, when Copper Hansen singled with two outs before Connor Hall homered on a towering fly ball to left-center. Spencer Olsen added on with a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth that carried in the wind and over the right field wall.
The Wolverines will head back out on the road to take on former WAC foe CSU-Bakersfield for a four-game weekend set. Friday’s series opener is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. MDT, and all four games will be broadcast on ESPN+.
Senior Staff Writer
Nathan is a senior studying Communications. In addition to covering UVU athletics for The Review, Nathan also covers BYU athletics for ESPN 960. Nathan hails from the Bay Area in California, and keeps tabs on the Giants, 49ers, and Warriors in his spare time.