Photo courtesy of UVU Athletics
MESA, Ariz.—The UVU baseball team advanced to the WAC Baseball Tournament semifinal game with a 3-2 win over the New Mexico State Aggies Thursday afternoon. Starter Jackson Cofer worked 7.1 strong innings and escaped multiple jams where he allowed just one run on eight hits, one walk and eight strikeouts. Mark Krueger first cracked the scoreboard for the Wolverines with a two-run home run in the top of the fourth.
Cofer got into a jam in the first inning with Aggies on the corners with nobody out. He escaped the inning unscathed with a pair of fly balls and L.J. Hatch went down swinging to end the inning.
The UVU bats came alive in the top of the fourth after Craig Brinkerhoff drew a one-out walk and Krueger sent a two-run home run over the right field fence for a 2-0 Wolverine lead. Jake Atkinson sparked a brief rally with a two-out walk and Justin Erlandson followed as he got hit in the back with an off-speed pitch. Jordan Schlehuber shot one of his three singles on the day through the right side of the infield and Atkinson came in to score from second for a 3-0 UVU lead.
NM State made noise of their own in the eighth as Daniel Johnson shot a line drive into left center for a one-out double. Jake Mayer then came on in relief for Cofer and got his first batter faced to ground out to second, but Johnson advanced to third on the play. Dan Hetzel sent a liner back up the middle for a two-out single, which brought home Johnson and cut the deficit to 3-1. Austin Botello followed suit with a single up the middle and the Aggies were threatening with two on and two out.
Hatch hit a hard grounder to third that deflected off the outstretched glove of Schlehuber into the hole at shortstop. Hetzel came around to score from second and Botello advanced to third. Mayer stopped the bleeding with the next batter as he struck out Trey Stine swinging.
Kyle Valgardson came on in the bottom of the ninth to close the game for UVU and retired the NM State side in order with a strikeout of pinch hitter Jaron Balman to seal the 3-2 victory.
UVU will take on the winner of Seattle U and Sacramento State Friday, May 27, at 8 p.m. MT in the WAC Tournament semifinals at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Ariz.
I’m a Pacific Northwest guy who loves his Pacific Northwest sports. An amateur movie buff who prefers the disc to digital. Chasing the sports writing dream while I geek out on Assassin’s Creed.