There have been plenty of highs and lows along the way, but the University of Utah baseball team has learned it must remain optimistic despite getting swept by the No. 1 team in the country, the Oregon State Beavers.
Staying positive and sticking to the process is helping this team move forward.
Highs and Lows
Conference play has not been the smoothest of rides for Utah. In fact, it has been quite a rollercoaster as Utah has just three wins in Pac-12 play. With series losses against the Washington Huskies, Stanford Cardinal and Oregon State, the Utes have only won one series, and that was against the Oregon Ducks.
Comparing last season’s play — where the Utes were crowned conference champions — to this season’s play is something that Kinneberg has found himself doing.
“It’s an interesting dynamic that the game that we play has such a fine line in a lot of our games,” Kinneberg said. “What makes you win and what makes you lose are the breaks that you make during the game. One pitch can allude to a win or a lose or one play or one at bat, and that’s what it’s come down to in a lot of our games this year.”
All of Utah’s conference matchups so far have been against ranked teams. Although numbers are just numbers, these ranked teams have troubled the Utes.
“Last year we got those calls, we made those opportunities, and we won those tight games,” Kinneberg said. “This year being on the road we haven’t done that or it’s slipped away from us and that’s the difference. Our team’s as competitive as it was last year, we may be even better in some areas.”
In Pac-12 play, the Utes have lost three games by one run — one against Washington that went into an extra inning and two against the No. 1 ranked Oregon State Beavers where game two finished after 16 total innings.
“It’s that key hit that I’ve been talking about for a long time,” Kinneberg said. “That key defensive play, that key pitch that happens during a course of a nine-inning game that can ultimately determine whether you win or lose that game.”
See Where They Rank
Third baseman Dallas Carroll has been talked about since the start of the season when his bat got hot and his batting average was through the roof. Carroll continues to put up impressive numbers as he is ranked in multiple categories in the conference, proving what an important asset he is to the Utah offense. Carroll is batting .381 and has a .593 slugging percentage to put him in fifth place in both categories. He is also fourth in the league in hits per game at 1.54.
Pitchers like Jayson Rose, Riley Ottesen and Josh Lapiana are getting recognition for strikeouts and innings pitched. Rose has 46 strikeouts landing him in seventh place, and with 36 strikeouts Lapiana is tied for ninth. Ottesen has pitched 52 2/3 innings tying him for fourth place in the conference.
Center fielder DaShawn Keirsey, Jr. is on a seven-game hitting streak that began at home against BYU. He is fifth in the Pac-12 in hits per game at 1.46
“In our batting order with him leading off, with him getting on bases, it’s so important that his on base percentage is good whether it’s hits or walks,” Kinneberg said. “He’s an awfully good player … DaShawn has a chance to play a lot of years and make this a living in the future.”