Kyle McDonald | Sports Writer | @kylesportsbias
On Tuesday night March 10, 2015, the Utah Valley University baseball team will welcome cross-county rival BYU to Brent Brown Ballpark in a battle for Utah County Supremacy. The first pitch is set for 6 p.m. MST.
The two schools are separated by five miles and have 39 players combined from the state of Utah on their rosters.
UVU Head Coach Eric Madsen knows the value that recruiting kids in the state of Utah brings to his program and what a win over BYU could do to help that process. “Recruiting Utah kids, I think, has helped us a lot. Those kids want to play for some pride,” Madsen said.
BYU Head Coach Mike Littlewood has the same agreement. “We know how important those games are for in-state recruiting, as well as local bragging rights,” Littlewood said.
Since 2005, BYU has really controlled this series as they hold an 18-8 lead in the series. It hasn’t kept the crowds away or taken away from the young rivalry. “It’s great for the fans…I think the thing is people forget where they are and where we are but we’re able to compete with them. It creates a little more of a rivalry…it’s fun to play those games cause of the fans interest is there…when we play BYU here the place is packed,” Madsen said.
In their 2015 home opener, UVU will look to use that crowd advantage to defeat the Cougars in the first of their two games this year. UVU will travel to play the Cougars on April 7, 2015 at Miller Park.
UVU and BYU are both off to a rough start to the 2015 season. The Wolverines come in with a little better record than the Cougars at 2-8 compared to 2-10 for BYU. The UVU victories came against Long Beach State and San Francisco. BYU was able to defeat Nebraska out of the BIG 10 and Oklahoma out of the BIG 12.
UVU is led by preseason All-WAC first baseman Mark Krueger and right-handed pitcher Danny Beddes. Krueger is off to a slow start in his junior season. He is batting just .176 and hopes that he can break out against the Cougars. Beddes is off to a 1-2 start on the mound with an earned run average just over three. UVU will also rely on junior Seth Rhineer who leads the Wolverines with a .297 batting average and freshman Jake Atkinson with a .265 batting average to spark the UVU offense.
BYU is led by junior shortstop Hayden Nielsen who is batting .354 on the young season. Senior Dillon Robinson leads the Cougars in extra base hits with four doubles and one triple. Senior right-hander Brandon Kinser is the leader of the Cougars pitching staff. He has a 1.53 earned run average in 17+ innings pitched and only has a 0-1 record to show for it.
It doesn’t matter who leads this series. It is a rivalry that continues to develop. Littlewood knows that no matter how the season is going, the level of intensity for an in-state game increases especially against UVU and Head Coach Eric Madsen. “Anytime we play an in-state team it makes for an interesting game…The one thing we do know is that he will have his team ready to play on March 10th.”
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