Baseball: UVU claims WAC title with shutout win over Seattle U

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MESA, Ariz.— The UVU baseball team shut out the Seattle U Redhawks 4-0 to claim their first-ever WAC Baseball Championship behind seven-plus innings of work from starter Kaden Schmitt. Greyson Bogden led UVU from the plate going 4-for-4 on the night with an RBI in the top of the fifth that drove in Zac Willis to cap a three-run inning.

With the win, UVU improved to 73-21 on the season and clinched an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals. Craig Brinkerhoff was named tournament MVP with a .563 batting average and six runs scored during the tournament.

UVU jumped on SU starter Zach Wolfe early as Willis and Bogden shot back-to-back, one-out singles through the infield in the top of the first. Craig Brinkerhoff advanced the runners with a sacrifice fly to deep left field, and Willis scored easily for a 1-0 lead as Mark Krueger singled to left.

Brock Carpenter led off the bottom of the second for the Redhawks with a ground-rule double into the right field corner, then Max Modeste flied out to right to move Carpenter to third. Two batters later, Jeffrey Morgan lifted a routine fly ball into right, which was caught by Krueger and Carpenter tagged third and headed for home. Krueger threw a strike to Willis, who made the tag on Carpenter to complete the double play and end the inning with no harm done.

With the infield playing back, Justin Erlandson led off the fifth with a bunt down the third base line. No Redhawk could make a play on the ball and Erlandson reached base uncontested. Erlandson stole second to put himself in scoring position and Trevor Howell drove a single to left, where Griffin Andreychuk failed to get a handle on the ball. Erlandson scored easily from second for a 2-0 lead and Howell ended up on second because of the miscue.

After Howell advanced to third on a wild pitch, he was able to trot into home as Willis crushed a line drive to the left center gap for an RBI triple. With one out and the infield playing in, Bogden popped sky high to shallow right and the ball found a patch of open grass between three approaching Redhawks. Bogden was thrown out in an attempt to stretch his single into a double, but not before Willis scored from third to give UVU a 4-0 lead.

Zac Willis tags Brock Carpenter out at the plate on a double play to end the second inning to keep the shutout in tact. Photos by Darryl Webb

Zac Willis tags Brock Carpenter out at the plate on a double play to end the second inning to keep the shutout in tact. Photos by Darryl Webb

SU threatened in the eighth after reliever Logan Hold walked the first batter he faced on four-straight balls to give the Redhawks runners on first and second with nobody out. Hold then got Dalton Hurd to strikeout swinging on three pitches. On the next pitch, Hold was hit by a one-hop comebacker off the bat of Sheldon Stober that deflected to Schlehuber, who was unable to make the play at first and SU had the bases loaded with just one out. Sean Sutton then fouled out to Schlehuber on the warning track and Hold struck out SU’s home run leader Carpenter on a 2-2 count to escape the jam unharmed.

The Redhawks looked for some late-inning magic as Modeste led off the bottom of the ninth with one of his two doubles on the night, but closer Kyle Valgardson retired the next three batters in order to close out SU and earned UVU their first-ever WAC Baseball title.

The Wolverines will find out their opponent for the NCAA Regionals during the NCAA Baseball Selection Show, which airs Monday, May 30, at 10 a.m. MT on ESPNU.