Wolverines come up just short in finale, swept 3-0 in series vs GCU

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The Utah Valley baseball team nearly salvaged a rough weekend in Phoenix but were ultimately swept by the first-place Grand Canyon Lopes in a three-game series Friday through Sunday. 

The Lopes had the Wolverines’ number in the first two games of the series, winning game one 11-1 in seven innings by run rule, then blanking UVU 8-0 in the second game. UVU’s comeback efforts came up just short in the series finale, falling 4-3. 

GCU’s Nick Hull was perfect through five innings in Friday’s series opener before the Wolverines got on the board. Mick Madsen smoked a base hit through the left side, then ultimately came around to score after a pair of groundouts and a passed ball. 

Game three on Sunday was shaping up to be more of the same for UVU with GCU leading 3-0 after four innings, but Madsen got the Wolverines on the board in the top of the fifth with a solo shot down the left-field line, his first of the season and third collegiately. 

The Lopes answered back in the sixth with one run and threatened for more, but stranded a runner on second. UVU trimmed the lead back down to two when Madsen reached on a one-out single then came around to score on a two-out single by Buster Posey Catcher of the Year Watchlist honoree Drew Sims.

UVU was the beneficiary of some sloppy defense from the Lopes in the eighth when Trey Cutchen reached on an error to start the inning. Mitch Moralez jumped on the next pitch for a single through the left side, giving the Wolverines a prime scoring opportunity.

With two runners on base and nobody out, UVU opted for a small-ball approach with Paul Vossen laying down a sacrifice bunt to move up the runners, but a throwing error by GCU pitcher Hunter Omlid allowed Vossen to reach safely, Moralez to move up to second, and Cutchen to come around and score and cut the lead down to 4-3.

The Lopes bullpen was able to work out of the jam from there, retiring the next three batters in succession. One baserunner reached in the top of the ninth on a hit-by-pitch, but the Wolverines were unable to capitalize.

The loss caps off a frustrating weekend for UVU, with the Wolverines now riding a four-game losing streak during which they have been outscored 40-5 by their opponents. It doesn’t get much easier for UVU, as they welcome crosstown rival BYU to UCCU Ballpark for the first of two games this season in the UCCU Crosstown Clash. The Cougars have been one of the top teams in the WCC this season, but are coming off of a frustrating weekend of their own when their offense mustered up just two runs in their last two games at Portland. 

Through 19 games, the Wolverines have been streaky, to say the least. In five out of six wins, the Wolverines have scored five runs or more, but in their losses, the team has only scored more than three runs once- a 10-run outburst in a 16-10 loss to Dixie State in St. George. The pitching staff hasn’t been doing the offense any favors, ranking second-worst in the conference with a 7.56 ERA. 

There is still plenty of time for the Wolverines to work out the kinks, and it’s reasonable to expect some growing pains in the first season under new head coach Eddie Smith. UVU has shown spurts of potential within their ball club, it’s just a matter of all the pieces coming together at the same time.

UVU will look to get back in the win column when they welcome BYU to the friendly confines of UCCU Ballpark on Tuesday, March 22. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 MDT, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+.