Baseball: UVU grinds through rebuilding year

Photo by Sarah Sanchez
There were 17 new faces on the baseball team this season and the youth and inconsistency led to UVU’s worst season in 12 years, finishing the season with an 18-36 record. The Wolverines posted an 11-13 record in WAC play, which placed them fifth in the league of nine schools.
UVU sputtered out of the gate, dropping eight of its first 10 games and was not able to put two wins together for the first time until late March. Things began to look up when the Wolverines beat the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and swept UT Rio Grande Valley in Texas. But, the Wolverines then lost the first home series of the year to Sacramento State and went 7-9 through April as they tried to right the ship.
The wheels began to fall off in May when UVU lost four straight games to begin the month by a combined score of 69-11. The pitching was bad and the hitting wasn’t a whole lot better. The middle innings of five, six and seven were a glaring problem for the Wolverines this season as they were outscored by 38, 23 and 46 runs in those middle frames.
Several players had successful seasons and made an impact despite the down year. Patrick Wolfe, the big left-handed closer, saved 11 games, breaking the single season saves record previously set by Kyle Valgardson in 2016. What made the feat more impressive is that Wolfe did so in a year in which the Wolverines held few leads late in games.
Three first-year Wolverines led the team in batting this season, headed by first baseman Trevor Peterson with a .356 average. Jackson Overlund came in second at .342 with 22 doubles and 34 RBIs, also a team-high. Second baseman David Modler earned a starting position in mid-March and made the most of it, hitting with a .325 average this season. Modler, who is from Las Vegas and played two years for Western Nevada, joined Peterson and Overlund as junior-transfers this season at UVU.
The Wolverines had a chance to heat up and win an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament as they did in the 2016 season. But, taking into account how difficult it was for this team to string wins together this season, it might have been a successful trip to win at least one game in Arizona against the familiar conference foes.
The club entered the WAC tournament as the No. 4 seed in the six-team field and faced Northern Colorado in the first round. The Wolverines took two of three from the Bears in the regular season, but they fell 6-4 in the tournament. In the loser’s bracket, they matched up with Seattle, whom they played the previous week. The Redhawks had a surge late in Thursday afternoon’s game and scored seven unanswered runs to eclipse the Wolverines’ lead. UVU fell by a score of 11-9 to quickly fall out of the tournament and end the season.

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