The University of Utah baseball team (7-3) will play at home for the first time this season as the New Mexico State Aggies (9-6) roll into town for a three-game series. Game one is Friday with first pitch set for 3 p.m. MT. The Saturday and Sunday games will both begin at 1 p.m. MT inside Smith’s Ballpark.
The Aggies are coming off an 8-2 loss to the New Mexico Lobos and the Utes are coming off a 2-1 weekend in San Antonio, Tex. where they faced the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners.
In game one of that series, Utah got its bats going early. The team had 13 total hits, and it cruised to a 17-3 victory. In the games that Utah has been able to get its bats hot, the team has seen a lot of success. Behind 16 hits, Utah was able to take down Nebraska earlier this season, and against California State Bakersfield where 19 hits helped Utah clinch a 15-3 win.
Third baseman Dallas Carroll has really stepped up to the plate and has helped the Utes offensively. Carroll is batting .525 and he not only leads the Pac-12 with that impressive number but he is ranked No. 9 in the National Collegiate Athletic Association in batting average. Carroll is also ranked No. 5 in the NCAA in hits per game.
“I think everyone is just having fun out there,” Carroll said. “[We’re] kind of just trying to hit it where they’re not. That’s kind of the running joke right now. It’s all about placement.”
Head coach Bill Kinneberg believes his team’s ability to swing the bat well has been able to come to life, because the Utes have experienced hitters and their work ethic is strong. Kinneberg also gives credit to assistant coach Jay Brossman, who serves as the hitting coach and runs the offense, for coaching the way that he has.
“They’ve got a good approach going right now,” Kinneberg explained. “All the way down the lineup we’re swinging the bats very well.”
This weekend should make for an offensive showdown as the Utes, who are ranked second in the conference with a .326 batting average and No. 21 in the NCAA, face an Aggies offense that is ranked No. 2 in the country with a .363 batting average.
“It’ll be a good matchup,” Kinneberg said. “It’ll be a good test for us before we get into conference so kind of a perfect weekend for us being at home and the weather looks like it’s going to be good. We’re happy about it.”
On the mound, Jayson Rose picked up his first win last weekend against UTSA. The right-handed pitcher is projected to open up the series. Riley Ottesen, who has a 2.95 ERA and a 2-0 record, is scheduled to pitch Saturday. Josh Lapiana who missed his scheduled start this past weekend due to weather is slated to close out the weekend series. Lapiana is 1-1 on the season with a 3.60 ERA.
After a long stretch of baseball on the road, the Utes are excited to play on their own dirt.
“You get to come out and play in front of people that support you – family, friends, fans – so everyone is looking forward to that,” Carroll said.