Utah Valley fell 5-3 to Washington State at home on Wednesday night. The loss marks the 20th of the season for the Wolverines and matches one of the worst starts in recent school history when UVU started 5-20 in the 2019 season.
Pitching woes dug the Wolverines into an early hole as sophomore starting pitcher Cole Yocum struggled on the mound. Yocum issued walks to three of the first four batters he faced. With the bases loaded, WSU senior third baseman Jack Smith drove in two runs on a single to left field.
After the bases were loaded again on another WSU single to the left side of the field, the third run of the inning was scored off a controversial balk call on Yocum. In baseball, a balk is issued when an umpire deems an illegal move was made by the pitcher that is unfair or deceitful to the base runners.
Yocum’s first start of the season would come to an end after just 0.2 innings pitched as head coach Eric Madsen elected to change pitchers with one out left in the first inning. The Wolverines used seven total pitchers throughout the game, with two innings being the most work any pitcher put in on the mound.
UVU was able to cut the deficit to one after freshman center fielder Tavyn Lords hit a triple to left field scoring two runs in the bottom of the second. Lord’s would finish the day 1-of-4 at the plate with two RBIs to lead the team.
The lead grew for the Cougars in the sixth inning when Preseason All-American junior Kyle Manzardo stepped to the plate with a runner on first base. WSU was down to their last out of the inning as Manzardo got behind in the count 0-2 after watching two strikes go by from junior pitcher Jaxson Otis. Manzardo connected effortlessly with the third pitch of the at bat and sent it over the right field fence for the only home run of the game and put the Cougars up 5-2.
The Wolverines had an opportunity to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth inning, after first baseman Kade Poulsen reached base on a throwing error by WSU. Catcher Drew Sims would bring Poulsen in to score on a single to right field to bring UVU within two runs. Junior designated hitter Pacen Hayes beat out a throw by the WSU shortstop to reach base with two outs left in the inning but the Wolverines left the runners stranded after freshman Kyle Coburn grounded out to third base to end the inning.
UVU returns to conference play on Friday, April 9 at UT Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg, Texas. The first game of the four-game series against the Vaqueros is scheduled for 5 p.m. MT. The game can be viewed on the WAC Digital Network.
Brice Larson is currently a Junior at UVU majoring in communications with an emphasis in journalism and media studies. He enjoys everything about sports and one day hopes to become a college football analyst and play by play commentator.