In its final regular season nonconference three-game series, the University of Utah baseball team (20-21, 9-12 Pac-12) fell short to UC Riverside (18-25, 4-11 BWC) dropping two of three games. The Utes took game one, 7-3, but dropped what could have been the series win with a 6-2 loss in game two and a 7-5 defeat in the finale.
Opening up the series on Thursday evening, Utah jumped out to an early lead, and it never looked back. Ellis Kelly hit a sacrifice fly to send Chandler Anderson home in the bottom of the second inning for the first run of the game. In the third, the Utes put up five runs on seven hits. The inning got underway with Dallas Carroll hitting a single before he advanced to second on a wild pitch. Hunter Simmons hit an RBI single before Zack Moeller and Anderson both singled. Josh Rose batted them in with a two-RBI triple. Kelly then hit an RBI single, and DaShawn Keirsey, Jr. sent Kelly home on an RBI triple — his fifth triple of the season — to give the team the lead.
In the seventh, UC Riverside got on the board for the first time in the series by putting up three runs. Utah added its final run and the final run of the contest in that inning. Anderson walked, advanced to second on a passed ball, and he then scored on a RBI double off the bat of Rose.
On the mound, Jayson Rose won his sixth game, and he put on a dominant performance as he broke the Utah career strikeout record that was previously set at 236.
“I try to go out there and win the game,” Rose said. “I had a good changeup that day and it helped me get nine [strikes] and break the record.”
Over 6 2/3 innings, Rose allowed three runs on five hits with one walk and nine strikeouts. Rose now has 241 strikeouts to his name.
“A lot of people back home are watching, so it’s cool,” Rose said. “It’s a nice feeling.”
Every Ute had at least one hit in game one, but the hot bats cooled off in the second game of the series when only Carroll, Simmons, Moeller and Wade Gulden were able to rack up at least one hit each.
The Highlanders struck first in the top of the second inning where they put up three runs, and they added another run in the sixth and seventh before the Utes offense got on the scoreboard. Carroll scored in the seventh thanks to Gulden who reached on a fielder’s choice. UC Riverside added a run in the eighth before Utah made a late rally in the ninth. Simmons and Moeller singled, and Gulden hit an RBI double as Utah tried to extend the inning, but a fly out and strike out closed the game.
Riley Ottesen surrendered six runs on nine hits with seven strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings. Trenton Stoltz pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings allowing two hits, one walk and one strikeout.
Wrapping up the series on Saturday, Keirsey Jr. singled before stealing second to start off the bottom of the first inning. Carroll walked, and Keirsey Jr. was picked off at second before Moeller hit an RBI double that sent Carroll hustling home to get Utah on the board, 1-0. An RBI single off the bat of Anderson then sent Moeller home for the Utes second run of the day.
In the third, Carroll and Simmons singled before Moeller hit an RBI single to score Carroll, 3-0. Gulden walked to load the bases for Utah and at the plate Dominic Foscalina drove in two runs on a two-RBI single to give Utah a 5-0 lead. The Highlanders put up three runs in the fourth, and one in the sixth before loading the bases and driving in three runs in the ninth off a two-RBI single and sacrifice fly to take a late ninth inning 7-5 lead. The Utes were unable to answer back.
“You can’t walk the leadoff guy, that’s always a kiss of death,” said head coach Bill Kinneberg. “We don’t make a play at second base, and then they get a real key base hit. They made the plays and we didn’t so they go home with a victory.”
Josh Lapiana pitched five innings allowing four runs on seven hits with two walks and striking out seven. Trenton Stoltz threw one out, and he allowed one hit. Jacob Rebar earned the loss after allowing two runs on one hit, walking one, and striking out two over 2 2/3 innings. Chase Bauerle also saw time on the mound.
“It’s a disappointing weekend,” Kinneberg said. “We got to gather back up. We got a game Tuesday, and [we need to] make sure we’re ready to go there and then head back against USC and see what we can do.”
Next up for the Utes, they will travel down south for its final in-state matchup against the Brigham Young Cougars on Tuesday, May 9.