It was an action packed weekend as the University of Utah baseball team (27-24 overall, 15-15 Pac-12) completed a series sweep at home against Arizona State (23-32, 8-22 Pac-12). Utah opened the series with a 2-0 victory before clinching the series win on senior day, 7-4. To close the regular season on Sunday, the Utes won 11-10.
Jayson Rose pitched a shutout to open the weekend action. Over eight innings, Rose allowed three hits with four walks and struck out six. The Utes tallied five hits that came from Chandler Anderson, Dallas Carroll, Zack Moeller, Wade Gulden and Oliver Dunn.
In the bottom of the first, DaShawn Keirsey, Jr. reached on an error before advancing to second. A bunt from Anderson allowed Keirsey Jr. to get to third. Carroll hit a sacrifice fly to send Keirsey Jr. home to give Utah a quick 1-0 lead. The Utes scored their second and final run of the game in the second when Moeller smacked a long ball to left field — his fourth home run of the year.
In game two, Arizona State got on the board in the top of the first with a three-RBI double. The Utes struggled to drive any runs in until the fifth where they scored five runs on five hits.
Keirsey Jr. started the scoring fiasco after hitting an RBI double to score Josh Rose. With Kelly on third and Keirsey Jr. on second, Anderson sent the two home on a two-RBI triple to tie the game. Immediately after, an RBI single from Carroll gave Utah a 4-3 lead. Carroll then stole second, Hunter Simmons walked and Moeller singled before advancing to second on an error. The error by the first baseman allowed Carroll to score.
The Utes added to their score when a two-RBI single from Anderson gave them a 7-3 edge in the sixth. Arizona State got one more run in the ninth, but that was not enough to catch Utah.
Riley Ottesen beat his previous career-high of seven strikeouts, by putting up 11 K’s on the mound. Over 8 1/3 innings pitched, Ottesen allowed three runs on six hits with three walks. Ottesen credits his successful performance to him trusting his stuff, his defense and his coach’s pitch calling.
“My first inning was rough,” Ottesen said. “But got to preserve, stick through it and hope for the best.”
In the final regular season contest, a two-run home run put the Sun Devils on the board in the first. Keirsey Jr. was chasing down the homer when he crashed into the outfield wall. The game was put on hold for almost 30 minutes as he was attended to before being taken off the field in an ambulance. According to Keirsey Jr.’s mother Tami, he suffered a fractured hip socket and a dislocated hip.
“It was really something hard for us to handle,” said infielder Kyle Hoffman. “We all went out there, and when we saw him laying there, and he was in pain, it took a toll on us. It’s something you don’t wish for anybody, especially your teammate, somebody like Keirsey who’s a big part of our team … If anything [that was] a little motivation for us to win it.”
When the game resumed, Anderson came in to play center and Max Schuman took over left field.
Arizona State hit its second home run of the day in the top of the second. The Sun Devils went on to hit an RBI single before scoring two runs on a throwing error, and one on an error by Rose in the third.
The Utes offense caught fire in the third when Anderson hit an RBI single and Carroll sent Schuman home on an RBI double. Utah loaded the bases to set Moeller up for a grand slam opportunity, and he delivered. Moeller blasted a long ball to left field to cut the Utes deficit to 7-6. More gas was added to the fire as Ellis Kelly hit an RBI single to tie the game, 7-7. A wild pitch in the sixth allowed ASU to take the lead, 8-7.
In the seventh, Moeller was called out at home, but Kinneberg argued the call. The umps reviewed the play and determined the ball was not in the catcher’s mitt, and the runner was ruled safe. Utah went ahead 9-8, but the game fell back in the hands of the Sun Devils as they took a 10-9 lead in the eighth.
Gulden and Oliver Dunn both singled in the ninth, but Gulden was called out at third. Kelly stepped up to the plate, and he hit an RBI double to tie the game at 10. Hoffman came in to pinch hit for Schuman, and he came up clutch for the Utes, as he hit a walk-off single to secure the sweep for Utah.
“I knew he was going to be able to finish it,” Kelly said. “I didn’t know at first swing, but hey, more kudos to him.”
Josh Lapiana threw 2 2/3 innings, allowing six runs on six hits with two strikeouts. Trenton Stoltz, Jacob Rebar, Chase Bauerle, Tanner Thomas and Josh Tedeschi also made appearances on the mound.
The Utes will now wait to see if they will be a part of the postseason. Kinneberg said earlier this week that if his team had any sort of chance at the postseason they needed to sweep this weekend, but he also knows that it is a culmination of the whole year that factors into whether or not they will be playing more games this season.
“You can’t live and die off the last weekend,” Kinneberg said. “There’s such a fine line, and we missed some opportunities mid year and down the stretch.”
The Selection Show that will announce the 2017 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship bracket will take place on Monday.