The University of Utah baseball team (5-2) is on the road for the weekend to take on the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners (5-3). The four-game series at Roadrunner Field gets underway on Friday with a doubleheader, and the first-pitch set for 2 p.m. CT. Saturday’s game is TBA because of possible weather conditions, and the final ballgame is Sunday at noon CT.
Utah has a shot at ending UTSA’s four-game win streak that began after it swept Stephen F. Austin in a three-game series followed by a victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Tuesday. Utah also comes into this series ranked in the top 25 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll for the first time this season at No. 24.
“It does give some credibility to our program which is great,” said head coach Bill Kinneberg. “Our guys have earned it. We played well on the road, and I think we’re a top 25 team or we could be. It’s nice but really early.”
This past weekend, Utah went 3-1 on the road as it took on two Big 10 schools — Ohio State and Nebraska. This was a great learning experience for the team as it faced tough competition, but it was able to see some positive results.
Heading into the UTSA matchup, Utah brings along its most recent Pac-12 Player of the Week, senior first baseman Hunter Simmons. For the second time, Simmons earned this recognition after putting on an impressive performance against the Buckeyes and Huskers where he hit .563 (9-for-16) with six RBIs. Simmons managed to turn things around after opening weekend where he only had one hit in 15 at bats to his name.
“He made some adjustments in practice,” Kinneberg explained. “And all of the sudden he was back to a really good Hunter Simmons. I was really proud of him for that.”
Utah is currently second in the league with a batting average of .335 and a .417 slugging percentage. Sophomore Chandler Anderson is leading the team with a .483 batting average. Also leading the way for Utah with six-multiple hit games, Anderson has been able to reach base in every game. Senior Dallas Carroll follows behind Anderson hitting .448 on the year, and he has had five-multiple hit games. Sophomore DaShawn Keirsey, Jr. has a .344 batting average and is the only Ute to have a hit in every game. Keirsey Jr. has had four games with multiple hits. Kinneberg believes experience and the way the team has prepared are the reason why his Utes have been able to start the season off well offensively.
Pitching wise, Utah has added depth and strength on the mound. Freshman Jacob Rebar has worked his way up to be the fourth starter in the rotation. Utah has seen nothing but hard work pouring from him. Rebar leads Utah with a 0.00 ERA, and over 9 2/3 innings pitched he is 2-0.
“We need to continue to pitch well, I think that’s been a huge part for us,” said catcher Alex Isola. “I think if the pitching holds up like it has been I think we should be able to sweep.”