OREM, Utah—Goonies never say die. Neither do Wolverines. The Utah Valley University baseball team entered the bottom of the ninth inning in a 9-1 hole, but rallied to score nine runs on five hits and a fatal North Dakota error to win 10-9 Saturday. With two outs and runners on second and third base, Mark Krueger sent a hard ground ball towards second baseman Ben Reznicek, who let the ball skip through his legs into right center field. Paul Estrada and Jordan Schlehuber came around to score as UVU completed their comeback.
UVU improved to 15-13 on the season, including 3-2 in conference play. Krueger finished the game 3-for-6 with a triple and scored one run. Spencer Gothberg added two hits with five RBIs and a grand slam, his first home run of the season.
The North Dakota Fighting Hawks jumped on the Wolverines early with a two-out rally in the second inning when Cooper Maas hit a bases-loaded double to right center field. Two batters later, Miles Lewis singled to right field but was put out at second base. Maas scored on the play to give UND an early 4-0 lead.
After UND posted two more runs in the fourth, Krueger hit a two-out triple to right center looking to start a UVU rally. But Craig Brinkerhoff popped up to first base to end the inning. Krueger was the first of five runners UVU stranded on third base on the night, including twice with the bases loaded.
The Wolverines chipped into a 6-0 deficit in the sixth inning when Greyson Bogden reached on an error by third baseman Daniel Lockhert. After UVU loaded the bases, Spencer Gothberg sent a sacrifice fly to right center field and scored Bogden from third. The inning ended the next batter as Stone Ramsey was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice.
The Fighting Hawks kept relentless pressure on the Wolverine defense into the late innings as they scored one more run in the top of the seventh and plated two in the eighth to take a 9-1 lead.
Paul Esrada led off the bottom of the ninth inning pinch hitting for Zac Willis and singled to left field. Two singles and two walks later, UVU had cut into the UND lead 9-3 with nobody out. Gothberg brought the Wolverines within two with one swing of the bat as he sent a line drive over the left field fence for a grand slam.
Ryne Edmondson and Jordan Schlehuber reached base to continue the Wolverines’ rally. In his second at-bat of the inning, Estrada walked on a wild pitch that scored Edmondson and brought UVU within 9-8. Jeff Arens then grounded out to first to advance the runners to second and third base, setting up Krueger for an opportunity to drive in the winning run.
After working the count full, Krueger smoked a grounder to second base, but Reznicek couldn’t get a handle on it and the ball rolled out into the outfield. Estrada and Schlehuber scored as Krueger ran to second and the rest of the Wolverines chased in celebration.
“Baseball’s an unpredictable game,” said UVU coach Eric Madsen. “We had a lot of good fortune and just found a way to do it. We had so many opportunities early in the game and didn’t capitalize on them, so I guess luck was on our side there at the end.”
UVU can take the series in the finale against UND, which will be played Sunday at noon at Brent Brown Ballpark.
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.