The road can be hostile and unfamiliar to visitors. As UVU began its 15-game stretch, visiting Salt Lake and Provo for one game in each city before heading to the west coast and then bouncing to the east coast, it experienced some of the unwelcoming effects of travel.
“There’s always that sense of urgency playing on the road,” said Head Coach Eric Madsen. “We’re in it to win games. You know, I’m not sure what they’re learning [about playing on the road], but we’ve got to do a better job of letting the game come to us.”
The Wolverines struggled to maintain the offensive prowess on display during the three-game home-opening series against Nevada that saw them score 26 total runs and record 38 hits. UVU managed just four hits in the first game against Texas Tech and only three in the second game, losing 9-2 and 6-0 respectively.
The heat of Lubbock, coupled with the excellent pitching of the Red Raiders held the Wolverines to a season-low .119 batting average over the two-game set. UVU tallied only one extra base hit and struck out 25 times in its visit to Texas.
UVU was able to regroup upon landing in Moraga, Calif. for a three game series against the St. Mary’s Gaels. The Wolverines ended a three game losing streak with a 9-6 win in 10 innings in game one.
“We competed really well today,” Madsen said. “I was pleased with how the guys were able to overcome a couple of injuries and just keep fighting. We had a lot of people get into the game and do great things for us. It was a complete team effort.”
The bats were dusted off as the Wolverines recorded 19 hits, five of which were doubles. Shortstop Kai Hatch led UVU with four hits and two RBIs, which came as insurance in the top of the tenth inning when the Wolverines had pulled ahead, 7-6, on an RBI base hit by third baseman Beau Kallas.
Game two saw the Wolverines again struggle at the plate, wasting a quality start from sophomore Ty Hansen. UVU lost 3-0, collecting just five hits in the process. Hansen pitched six solid innings, limiting the Gaels to two runs on five hits. He also struck out three.
The Wolverines bounced back to take game three, 6-3, earning their second road series win of the season. Senior Adam Gunn scattered ten hits over 6.2 strong innings, striking out five while limiting the Gaels to three runs. The six runs of support were enough to allow Gunn to register his second victory of the year.
Tuesday March 19 provided a chance for the Wolverines to play a game in the state of Utah, but UVU again struggled offensively, going just 7-38 (.184) at the plate against the Utes. Starting pitcher Devin Nelson’s stellar performance was wasted. The junior held Utah to two runs over seven innings, striking out seven and limiting the Utes to only three hits, but the Wolverines eventually lost in 11 innings, 3-2.
“We’re striking out way too much. We’re chasing pitches out of the zone and it’s been the same story over and over. We need some guys need to step up and make adjustments,” said Madsen said. “Our pitchers have done a great job keeping us in games and we’ve got to find a way to scratch out more runs.”
UVU will travel next to BYU on April 2 before taking their talents to New Jersey for conference play against NJIT.
By Kyle Spencer