U baseball looks for first victory

For the second week in a row, the U baseball team looks to win its first game of the season this weekend. The Utes (0-3) travel to Orlando, Fla., for a three-game set with Central Florida (4-2), marking the first-ever meetings between the two schools.

The Golden Knights opened their season two weekends ago with a pair of wins over Florida International. They faced a stiff test last weekend, dropping two of three games to national No. 2 LSU.

After squeaking by with a 4-3 win in the first game of the series, the Tigers trounced Central Florida in game two, a 17-4 win.

In the third game of the set, the Golden Knights stayed above .500 with a come-from-behind 6-5 victory over the Tigers, thanks to junior Dee Brown’s game-winning fielder’s choice.

The win was the school’s first ever over a team ranked third or higher.

The Knights padded their record on Tuesday with a 9-4 win over Bethune-Cookman. Drew Butera and Dave Lambert had two RBI apiece.

While the Utes had similarly difficult tests in their season opening weekend-including an 11-0 loss to No. 7 Arizona State-the Knights have to be confident against a U pitching staff that squandered several opportunities in the team’s three losses.

Central Florida, however, hasn’t exactly lit up the scoreboard yet this season, despite its four early victories. They are hitting just .249 as a team. Brown leads the club with five RBI.

However, the U offense will face some tough resistance on the mound from Central Florida’s hurlers.

In game one of the series on Friday, the Utes will face Matt Fox, who is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in two starts this season. It won’t get any easier on Saturday, as the Knights will send Kyle Bono (0-0, 2.00 ERA, 9 IP, 12 K) to the hill.

The Utes will counter with Doug Mackay, Jason Price and Eric Schaler, in that order.

While none of those pitchers saw a lot of success in the first three games of the year, the Utes and new pitching coach Bryan Conger hope that last weekend’s showings are just an aberration.

Mackay posted a 19.29 ERA in one start, as he allowed 11 runs (10 earned) in 4.2 innings in the Utes’ toughest game of the year against the Sun Devils.

Price yielded just two runs in five innings of work in his lone appearance, while Schaler (45.00 ERA, five earned runs, two walks in one inning of work) didn’t fare too well in his first outing.

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