Baseball in Prime Spot for MWC Title

Winning the Mountain West Conference was the goal from Day One for the U baseball team, and now it has set itself up in a position to win the conference, as it is 3.5 games back of conference leader San Diego State.

Utah solidified its third-place position last weekend, as it swept Air Force, and will have a chance to be just 1.5 games behind BYU for the second place slot if the Cougars loses a suspended game to San Diego State on April 18, in which the Cougars are down 11-10 in the top of the ninth.

“That [Air Force] sweep was huge because we finally got back that series against New Mexico where we were swept,” said U coach Tim Esmay.

Now, the Utes are looking at a much more favorable schedule heading into the second half of the conference season.

“Nine of the 15 games we have left are going to be played at Franklin Covey, and we play so well there that I think we can catapult ourselves up the standings,” Esmay said.

Amazing Depth

The first half of the season has provided many surprises in the hitting game for Utah. The Utes have had tremendous performances from the players they thought would do well, such as Nate Weese and Adam Castleton.

Castleton was the senior leader on the infield, and was supposed to be the anchor of there, but has provided even more at the plate.

Castleton is leading the team in several categories including batting average .(383), slugging percentage (.789), on base percentage (.490), and, finally, walks (19).

Weese has been the power threat for the Utes, as he is leading the team in home runs with 11, and is second on team with 43 RBI.

However, that is not the only reason the Utes have had such a good time at the plate.

“The reason that our hitting has been so good is because of our depth,” Esmay said. “We’ve got guys like Brandon Biesinger and Jake Jordison, who have come in and played extremely well.

Biesinger was part of back to-back home runs with Mike Basham in Game 3 against Air Force


The pitching situation was looking grave for the Utes before the season started. The starting rotation had Jason Wylie as the only proven starter.

Mitch Maio came on from the bullpen to be a great third starter, but there was one player who surprised everyone.

“Cheyenne Rushton came out of nowhere to be a starter that we rely on in every series,” Esmay said.

Rushton has an impressive record of 6-2 and has thrown 69 innings so far. He has an ERA of 4.57, which is second on the team behind Maio.

Another huge problem in the pitching department was the young and inexperienced bullpen, but many of those problems have been resolved.

“Doug Mackay and Clay Westmoreland have now started to pitch up to their potential, and don’t look like freshmen anymore,” Esmay said.

Ryan Reisbeck and Jared Snyder have also come on to become actual threats out of the bullpen.

With the pitching and hitting set, and most of the games being played at home, the baseball team will have plenty of opportunities to become the Mountain West Conference champions.

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