Baseball: Wolverines sweep defending WAC Champion Roadrunners

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OREM — Craig Brinkerhoff hit a grand slam and the UVU Wolverines accumulated 14 hits on their way to dominating 10-1 and series sweep of defending WAC Tournament champion Cal State Bakersfield on Sunday afternoon at Brent Brown Ballpark.

It is the first series sweep of the season for UVU, who improved to 25-18 overall and 11-7 in the WAC. UVU currently sits in fourth in the WAC standings, just a game behind Sacramento State, who the Wolverines will face in a three game series starting on beginning on Friday.

“I was really pleased with our guys,” UVU head coach Eric Madsen said. “I felt like we stayed in it. Our guys did a good job of competing throughout the whole weekend and found a way to beat a team that is better than their record.”

After a slow start to the game where neither team scored in the first two innings, UVU finally got going in the bottom of the third when Trevor Howell hit his first career home run, a two-run shot that scored Jake Atkinson to make it 2-0 for UVU.

Bakersfield scored its only run of the game in the top of the fourth inning when Drew Seelman doubled down the left field line and scored David Metzgar to make it 2-1 for UVU.

From there, UVU pitchers Jackson Cofer, Kaden Schmitt and Greg McCuch put the clamps down on the ‘Runners offense while the UVU offense got going. The Wolverines scored one run in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings before blowing the game wide open in the bottom of the eighth.

Atkinson hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth to make it 3-1 for UVU. In the bottom half of the fifth inning, Zac Willis hit an RBI double down the left field line to score Jordan Schlehuber and make it 4-1.

In the bottom of the seventh, Spencer Gothberg hit a routine fly ball to left field, but the Bakersfield left fielder lost it in the sun and it dropped  for an RBI triple that scored Mark Krueger and made it 5-1 for UVU.

Then the flood gates opened. Schlehuber picked up his third hit of the day, a single through the left side, but was caught stealing. The next four Wolverines reached base via three walks and a hit batter to make it 6-1.

With the bases loaded and one out, Bakersfield made a pitching change and brought in first baseman Nick Vehlewald to stop the bleeding. Craig Brinkerhoff welcomed him to the pitching mound by taking the second pitch he saw and driving it over the left field fence for a grand slam that increased the UVU lead to nine at 10-1. It was the seventh home run of the season for Brinkerhoff.

UVU earned its first series sweep of the season on Sunday with a 10-1 win over CSU Bakersfield. Photo courtesy of UVU Athletics.

UVU earned its first series sweep of the season on Sunday with a 10-1 win over CSU Bakersfield. Photo courtesy of UVU Athletics.

“Craig had every opportunity to knock guys in,” Madsen said. “It was good for him to get in there and get after it. That was a good kid on the mound for them (Bakersfield) and I thought he got where he needed to be and put the barrel head to it.”

UVU had another opportunity in the eighth to score a few more runs but Schlehuber, who was batting for the second time in the inning, struck out with runners on second and third to end the inning.

Jackson Cofer was impressive on the mound once again for UVU. He picked up his fourth win of the season by going 6.1 innings and allowing one run on four hits, four walks and four strikeouts. For the second straight game, the UVU bullpen came on and didn’t allow a run over the final 2.2 innings. Kaden Schmitt went 1.2 innings and allowed one hit and no runs with one strikeout. Greg McCuch then closed it out in the ninth inning to give the Wolverines the sweep.

The road doesn’t get any easier for UVU as they go on the road for four straight games beginning on Tuesday night in Provo against crosstown rival BYU. The Wolverines then travel to Sacramento to take on Sacramento State in a three game series beginning on Friday night with a shot at second place in the WAC standings after the weekend is over.

“It’s a big week for us because, obviously BYU,” Madsen said. “We want to perform well against them. They’re a real highly ranked team so we want to go out and knock those guys off for sure. Going into the weekend, Sac State I think it’s big for us. We need to go up there with every intent of winning the series and trying to find a way to gain ground on the guys up ahead of us…we have a chance to position ourselves moving up into that one or two seed, which is what we are hoping for going into the tournament.”

First pitch on Tuesday is slated for 6 p.m. MT at Larry H. Miller Field in Provo. The first game of the Sacramento State series is schedule to start on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. MT.