It was not the way the current Pac-12 Champions wanted to kick off the conference, but the University of Utah baseball team (9-8, 0-3 Pac-12) could not take down the Washington Huskies (13-6, 3-0 Pac-12) as the Huskies swept the Utes in a three-game series. Game one was scheduled to begin on Friday, but due to rain the game was postponed. A doubleheader took place on Saturday where the Utes fell 3-1 and 4-3. On Sunday, the Utes fell 4-1.
In game one of Utah’s third doubleheader of the season, DaShawn Keirsey, Jr. was the only Ute who got on the board. On the first pitch in the top of the first inning, Keirsey Jr.’s home run to right field would do it for the Utes offense. The Huskies struck back in the bottom of the first with a lead-off triple followed by a home run to right field to put them up 2-1. In the fifth inning, with a runner on first, the Huskies added a run on an RBI double to take a 3-1 lead.
The Utes finished with five hits, Dallas Carroll had two and Keirsey Jr., Hunter Simmons and Chandler Anderson each had one. On the mound, Jayson Rose earned the loss after pitching six innings and allowing three runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts. Rose is now 2-1 on the year. Hunter Rodriguez and Tanner Thomas also came in to pitch. Rodriguez threw 2/3 of an inning with one strikeout and one hit. Thomas pitched 1 1/3 innings with one hit.
The Utes only got four hits in game two, but three runs kept them in it until an extra inning had to be played. The Huskies took an early 2-0 lead after quickly putting up a run in the bottom of the first and second innings. In the third, the Utes loaded the bases after Anderson walked, Zack Moeller singled and Kyle Hoffman walked. Keirsey Jr. singled up the middle to bat in Anderson and Carroll walked to send Moeller home. Simmons then hit a sacrifice fly and sent in Hoffman who put Utah up 3-2.
With a run in the bottom of the fourth inning after a single and RBI double, the Huskies tied it up 3-3. The score remained the same when Dylan Drachler took the mound in the ninth. The game was pushed into a tenth inning where the Huskies doubled and three walks helped them get the winning run home. Drachler earned the loss, and starting pitcher Riley Ottesen pitched six innings with three runs on six hits with five strikeouts. Thomas threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings with two hits, two walks and two strikeouts.
In the last game of the series, the Utes left 11 runners on base. Keirsey Jr. hit a single and Oliver Dunn walked in the top of the first but the Utes could not make anything happen off of that.
“We didn’t execute when we needed to,” Simmons said. “We left a lot of guys in scoring position.”
The only run for the Utes came in the top of the fourth inning when Carroll smacked a long ball over the left field fence, his second home run of the year. Josh Rose doubled, Wade Gulden was intentionally walked and Anderson walked to quickly load the bases. Again, the Utes could not take advantage of the opportunities in front of them as a strikeout closed the inning.
With bases loaded again for the Utes in the fifth after Keirsey Jr. and Dunn each singled and Simmons walked, they could not garner any runs. The Huskies took a 3-1 lead in the seventh and added another run in the eighth before the Utes tried to make something happen in the ninth.
Pinch-hitter Max Schuman helped give Utah a spark. Schuman doubled and Dunn walked with two outs, but a ground out closed the game and concluded the series. Josh Lapiana earned the loss on the mound and fell to 1-3 after pitching 6 2/3 innings and allowing three unearned runs with six strikeouts and one walk. Jacob Rebar and Trenton Stoltz both threw 2/3 of an inning.
“It was an eye-opener,” Simmons said. “We can’t just expect to win the series in three games against a team that we won against in the Pac-12 Championship. You can’t expect them to roll over. I would say the biggest takeaway is to be prepared … we need to bounce back. We need to punch back.”
The Utes return home to Smith’s Ballpark for a mid-week game against the Utah Valley University Wolverines on Wednesday, March 22 at 6 p.m. MT.