It was something the University of Utah baseball team (14-17, 5-10 Pac-12) was in need of — another conference win — as the Utes won the series against the visiting California Golden Bears (16-17, 8-7 Pac-12) after taking two of the three games. Opening the series with a 9-3 victory, Utah went on to win game two in blowout fashion, 16-8, before dropping the final matchup, 8-7.
“Overall it was a good weekend getting a series win,” said second baseman Oliver Dunn. “The first two games were convincing wins. Today we didn’t close the door like we usually do. It happens, it’s baseball. It’s definitely one we let slip away and would’ve been good to get the sweep there, but [a] series win at the end of the day, it’s a good thing.”
In game one, the Utes struck first in the bottom of the second inning when Josh Rose hit an RBI single and Dominic Foscalina hit a sacrifice fly to get Wade Gulden a run. Cal got an unearned run in the top of the third, but the Bears continued to trail. Gulden singled before Zack Moeller and Josh Rose walked to load the bases for Utah. Foscalina and Ellis Kelly both had RBI singles to put Utah a top 4-1 in the fourth.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Utes added four runs. Oliver Dunn was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to send Foscalina home. Dallas Carroll was then walked to send in Kelly before Hunter Simmons smacked a two-RBI single to put Utah up 8-1.
Simmons came up big again in the ninth when he blasted a home run to left field to give Utah a 9-1 advantage. Cal added two runs in the ninth, but it was not enough to catch Utah.
Jayson Rose earned the win on the mound and he improved to 4-2 on the season after allowing one run on four hits with three strikeouts and three walks over eight innings.
On Friday, Utah put a run up quickly in the first and Cal answered back with three runs in the top of the second — but the bottom half of the inning belonged to the Utes. The runs started pouring in beginning with an RBI double off the bat of Foscalina and ended with a two-RBI single from Dunn. Behind eight hits in the inning, the Utes tallied 11 runs and took a 12-3 jump.
“That was good hitting and we got in their bullpen,” said head coach Bill Kinneberg. “That was a great inning for us and really kind of saved us because they made a comeback and got momentum back during that ballgame.”
Cal made an effort to catch up, scoring three runs in the fourth and two in the sixth, but Utah was hard to slow down. Ellis Kelly and DaShawn Keirsey Jr. hit back-to-back triples in the sixth before back-to-back RBI doubles from Dunn and Carroll put Utah up 15-8.
Keirsey Jr. tripled in the seventh before Dunn hit an RBI-double to give Utah its final run of the game as the Utes easily blew past the Golden Bears, outhitting them 19-10. Dunn had a standout performance going 5-for-6, and he led the team with four RBIs. Keirsey Jr. had three hits where he blasted two triples to tie the Utah record for triples in a game. Keirsey Jr. along with Carroll, Simmons, Moeller and Kelly each finished with two RBIs.
Earning his first career win was Chase Bauerle in relief who pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits with three strikeouts and a walk.
Closing out the series Dallas Carroll got things rolling in the bottom of the first with his fourth home run of the year to give the Utes a 1-0 edge. Utah took a 3-0 lead after an RBI double from Foscalina and a RBI single off the bat of Kelly in the second. With bases loaded in the third, Moeller sent in three runs on a three-RBI single to put Utah up 6-1. Cal added three runs in the fourth cutting the deficit within two, but the team in red and white was still leading 6-4.
In the fifth, an RBI single from Gulden sent Carroll home before Cal had a run in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to tie the game at 7-7. A run in the ninth led to Cal taking its first lead of the game, 8-7. The Utes tried to make a comeback after Dunn hit a single to put runners on the corners, but the team could not pull off the sweep.
“We made too many mistakes [on Saturday] all the way through the ballgame on both sides — on the defensive side, pitching wise and offensive side,” Kinneberg said. “We gave them a chance to come back and they did…when you have a five run lead you should be able to hold on to that and we didn’t and it’s disappointing. We got to learn from it.”
Utah remains at home for a midweek showdown that takes place Tuesday at 6 p.m. against in-state rival the Brigham Young University Cougars.