Utes snap losing skid

It seemed as if the U baseball team would blow another early lead Tuesday against UVSC.

The Utes did manage to blow it, but came on strong in the last two innings of the game to defeat the Wolverines 5-3 at Ute field. With the win, the Utes improved to 8-19 on the season.

“Maybe it was a breakthrough for us,” U coach Bill Kinneberg said.

Blowing early leads has been a trend as of late, and the Ute offense hasn’t scored enough runs to make serious comebacks.

Tuesday, the Ute bats were still quiet after their two-run first inning. For five straight innings, the Ute offense was shut out until the seventh inning.

“This has been the way it has been for three weeks,” Kinneberg said. “We aren’t driving the ball. We are pounding it into the ground or popping it up. It’s like all 11 guys are in a slump.”

The Ute bats finally came through in the seventh inning with two runs to take a 4-3 lead.

An insurance run in the eighth inning was not necessary, but it gave the Utes the 5-3 cushion.

Chad Cullers, who has been out of the rotation with an injury, came back to pitch three good innings. He allowed one run and struck out two batters.

“We need him back, and we are going to see tomorrow how he feels,” Kinneberg said.

With Cullers getting back to full strength, the Utes may have their third starter, but Kinneberg is not sure who to put into the third slot.

“It could be [Bryce] Freed, it could be [Steven] Collora or it could be Cullers,” Kinneberg said. “It will depend on what happens on the first two days.”

While part of the starting rotation is in flux, the bullpen has been solid, especially reliever Josh Cooper.

“He has done it for us all year,” Kinneberg said.

“He is a good short relief guy and a good long relief guy. He’s done a terrific job with his pitches.”

Cooper pitched after Cullers and had four solid innings. He gave up two runs but did enough to hold off UVSC.

Kinneberg brought in Brian Lane to close the game, and he did it with ease.

Lane allowed a hit in the eighth inning but easily got out of the inning. The ninth seemed like a duplicate of the eighth.

After a man got on base in the top of the ninth inning for UVSC, Lane went to work and quickly finished the Wolverines.

A double play and a ground out later, the Utes had snapped their seven game losing streak.

Now the Utes will head on the road to resume conference play against Air Force. The three-game series will take place in Colorado Springs, Colo., beginning on Friday afternoon.

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