Utes ready for Gwynn’s Aztecs

The U baseball team is looking to take advantage of a San Diego State team which is in a little bit of a slump itself right now.

The three-game series begins Friday in San Diego at 6 p.m.

Last weekend, the Aztecs dropped two ballgames to BYU, going from first place in the Mountain West Conference to third.

The Utes dropped two to UNLV, allowing the Rebels to climb to first place in the conference.

New Mexico kept Air Force winless and in the last place in the standings to claim second, and the Utes didn’t budge from second-to last place in the six-team conference.

The Utes can either keep future baseball Hall-of-Famer Tony Gwynn’s team in check from making a move back to the top, or will catch the short end of the stick as the Aztecs try to avenge last week’s losses.

However, the Aztecs lost both games by small margins, and picked up one against the Cougars, meaning that the Utes will have to bring their A game.

In order to pick up wins, however, the Utes will have to put together stellar offensive and defensive performances, starting with the pitching.

The Utes will pitch Jason Price in Friday’s series kickoff, Doug Mackay on Saturday and Ben Buck on Sunday.

Except for Buck, who has an ERA of 3.97 in comparison to his Aztec counterpart Ben Coon at 4.89, both Price and Mackay are headed against pitchers with significantly better ERA’s.

Price faces off against the Aztecs’ Scott Shoemaker at 3.56 and Mackay is set to compete with Daryl Harang at 3.97.

Many of the contests the Utes have dropped this year have been because of pitching, giving up runs even after the team gave itself multiple chances to win.

An example is last weekend’s loss to UNLV, when the team put up 17 runs, but gave up 19 for the loss in extra innings.

However, equally important for the Utes is to showcase their offense, which has been fairly consistent this year.

Of the nine Ute starters, six are batting with averages of more than .300.

The problem is that many times, even if pitching is able to keep opponents to a decent run total, the offense won’t produce enough to get the win. Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to UVSC was a prime example, as the Utes led for more than seven innings, giving up all four runs in the eighth.

At 10-22 on the year and 3-9 in conference play, the Utes have a chance to make a move on BYU, next in line in conference standings at 6-9.

San Diego currently sits at 20-22 on the year and 9-4 in conference play.

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