Wolverines stun the Utes in a 14-3 upset

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The Utah Valley baseball team stunned the Utah Utes in a 14-3 rout on Tuesday, April 5, at UCCU Ballpark in Orem, Utah. After the Utes went up 2-0 early, the Wolverines erupted for seven runs in the second inning that the Utes would never recover from and pulled away while compiling more runs throughout the game. The Wolverines now move to 10-19 on the season and 3-5 at home. 

The Wolverines finished the game with four home runs, 14 hits, 12 runners batted in, six runners walked, and an incredible hitting average of .477. The Wolverines also tied their season-high in runs scored with 14 for the third time this season. Mitch Moralez (two home runs, three RBIs) and Mick Madsen led the way for the Wolverines, having four hits apiece while Paul Vossen had three hits. Three Wolverines had two hits as well. 

The Wolverines held the Utes to just three runs, all of which were home runs (two by TJ Clarkson). The Utes had just eight hits, three RBIs, and were only able to get three batters walked while leaving nine runners stranded. The Utes ended the game with an underwhelming .242 hitting average. Clarkson led Utah with three hits, two home runs, and three runners batted in. Dakota Duffalo followed with two hits while three other Utes clocked just one hit. 

In the postgame, head coach Eddie Smith was impressed with the Wolverines walking six times while striking out five times, and that was what he was looking for. 

“We talk about it all of the time,” began Smith. “Dominate the strike zone, swing at strikes, take balls. You know, our guys have done a really good job the last two and a half weeks now of owning the zone, off making that commitment to that and I that’s what offense is, is doing that pitch after pitch.”

When asked about the win, Eddie Smith had this to say, “Every win is a great win, and it’s hard to say one is better than another, but what I will say is it was awesome to see guys play the way they did. We had a great crowd here, having an in-state rival in our ballpark. Obviously, there’s a lot of pageantry around the PAC-12 and their history. I grew up going to Husky Stadium as a kid and sometimes over to Pullman to watch games at Washington State and so anytime we play a PAC-12 school it’s even special to me and so every win’s a great win but it’s really cool to be able to play games against PAC-12 schools at our ballpark. That’s an awesome thing.”

Wolverines’ starting pitcher Cameron Scudder got off to a great start in the first, quickly retiring Utes’ Frei Landon and Alex Baeza. However, Scudder then gave up back-to-back home runs to Chase Anderson and TJ Clarkson to give the Utes an early 2-0 lead. Things looked more daunting when Jayden Kiernan got hit by a pitch to give the Utes their first runner on base. However, Scudder got out of the jam after retiring Carter Booth with a groundout to second.

Mitch Moralez gave the Utes’ starting pitcher Brady Maylett a long at-bat in the bottom of the first but was retired after a groundout to third. Trey Cutchen also gave Maylett a long at-bat and ended up getting walked. Mick Madsen followed with a flyout to right field. However, Paul Vossen got things started by hitting a line drive to center field for a single and was able to get to second with Cutchen reaching third after a bobble error by the Utes’ outfield. The inning would come to a close after Brady Ponti struck out. 

Scudder started the second swiftly retiring Matt Richardson but walked Britt Graham. Dakota Duffalo then chopped a ball to third, allowing for the Wolverines to retire Graham and Duffalo on a double play to shut down the Utes. 

Maylett had another grueling start in the bottom of the second, walking Wolverines’ star Spencer Olsen. He followed by retiring Cole Jordan on a deep flyout that was just short of a home run. Fortunately for the Wolverines, Kyle Coburn was able to launch one deep to left field out of the park, scoring Olsen and himself to even the score 2-2. Copper Hansen kept things rolling for the Wolverines with a triple, adding more pressure on Maylett. The triple forced the Utes to turn to reliever Dean Baker, who surrendered the second Wolverines home run to Moralez, also bringing home Hansen, to give the Wolverines a 4-2 lead. Baker bounced back with a strikeout on Cutchen. Madsen gave Baker a long at-bat and ended up walking to give UVU another runner on base. Vossen followed with an extra-base hit to get the runners on the corners for the Wolverines. After a steal to second for Vossen, Madsen came in to score, giving the Wolverines their fifth run of the inning. Ponti then hit a line drive triple deep to center field to send Vossen home and give UVU a 6-2 edge. The Wolverines kept going with Olsen singling up the middle to bring home Ponti. However, the inning would end after Jordan grounded out. 

Wolverines’ reliever Luke McCollough came in for Scudder to begin the third, retiring Utes leadoff hitter Frei. McCollough followed by forcing a groundout for Baeza and a flyout by Anderson. 

Utes’ reliever David Watson started the third by forcing a quick out on Coburn but walked Hansen. Moralez then hit a liner to left field to get two runners on base early in the inning. Cutchen followed with a groundout to first, but advanced Hansen and Moralez to scoring position. Madsen followed with a looper to the right-center to score Hansen and Moralez and give UVU a big 9-2 lead early. A few pitches later, Madsen safely stole second and Vossen walked to give the Wolverines two more runners on base. However, Watson would escape further trouble after Ponti hit a deep fly to end the inning. 

Clarkson got the Utes back on the board in the top of the fourth with his second moonshot of the game to right field, cutting the deficit 9-3. McCollough responded with a quick out on Kiernan. Booth doubled into scoring position in an effort to keep the Utes rolling. However, McCollough swiftly retired Richardson and Graham to put out the Utes’ spark.

Things didn’t get any easier for the Utes’ bullpen in the fourth after reliever Branson Kuehl gave up a towering, sky-high home run to Olsen, putting UVU in double digits with 10 runs. Keuhl bounced back by retiring Jordan and Coburn in back-to-back outs. However, Hansen again kept life for the Wolverines by hitting a deep single to right field. Moralez followed with another single to give the Wolverines two runners on base. Unfortunately, the inning came to a close after a foul out by Cutchen.

The Utes got off to a great start in the top of the fifth with a leadoff single delivered by Duffalo. Frei replicated with his second hit of the game to put two Utes on base with no outs. McCollough, however, remained unfazed and struck out Baeza. After the strikeout, he created a double play against Fei and Anderson to get out of the inning. 

Keuhl had a better outing in the fifth. Despite giving up a leadoff single to Madsen, Keuhl was able to catch Madsen stealing and gun him down. Vossen grounded out to first to follow Madsen. However, Vossen crushed a two-out double to right field to keep the Wolverines alive. The inning would, unfortunately, come to a close after Olsen grounded out to first, giving UVU their first scoreless inning since the first.

Wolverines’ reliever Blake Zeleny got off to a shaky start in the sixth after hitting Clarkson with a wild pitch. Kiernan and Booth then followed with a flyout and a ground out, respectively, to give Zeleny two quick outs. Richardson would get walked to get two Utes on base with just two outs. However, after a 10 pitch at-bat, Zeleny retired Graham to end the inning. 

Keuhl forced Jordan, Coburn, and Hansen to go out in a quick 7-8-9 order to issue another scoreless inning by UVU. 

Wolverines’ Zeleny followed suit after giving up a double to Duffalo, retiring Frei, Baeza, and Anderson to end the inning for the Utes. 

Madsen made life difficult for Utes’ reliever Zac McCleve with his second home run of the day to begin the bottom of the seventh, allowing UVU to go up 11-3. Cutchen kept the Wolverines’ bats hot with a standup double. Madsen followed with a single that forced a throwing error from the second that allowed Madsen to reach third and Cutchen to score. A Vossen triple would then bring in Madsen. Ponti then grounded out to bring home Vossen, giving the Wolverines a 14-3 advantage. McCleve caught a break by striking out Olsen, but Jordan and Coburn would reach base after a single and walk, respectively. However, Utes’ reliever Dusty Schramm would come in for McCleve to retire Hansen and end the inning.

After giving up a leadoff double to Clarkson, Wolverines’ reliever Bobby Voortmeyer retired Kiernan, Booth, and Anderson to end the eighth for the Utes. 

Utes’ reliever Schramm quickly retired Moralez and Yates to begin the bottom of the eighth. However, Madsen would single through the legs of Schramm up the middle to keep the inning alive for UVU. The Wolverines then got on the corners after a liner to left field for Drew Sims, giving Schramm some more trouble. However, Schramm would strand the Wolverine runners after a groundout by Brandon Luna.

Wolverines’ reliever Andrew Hauck started the ninth striking out Graham, but hit Duffalo with a pitch and walked Frei. Baeza followed with a flyout to the center and Anderson lined out to close the game for UVU.

This was the first time the Wolverines defeated the Utes since 2019. The series this season is now even at 1-1. The series victor will be decided when the teams play again in Orem on Wednesday, April 27, at 6:05 p.m. MT. 

The Wolverines now head northwest to Bellevue, Washington to take on WAC West Division foe Seattle University in game one of a three-game series on Friday, April 8, at 5 p.m. MT. The series can be streamed on the WAC Digital Network. The Wolverines will then head across town to Seattle, Washington to take on another PAC-12 opponent Washington on Monday, April 11, at 7 p.m. MT. This match can be watched via the PAC-12 Washington Live Stream.