Baseball shuffles pitchers to find good lineup

The members of the U baseball team have had problems with their third day’s starter all year long.

At the beginning of the season, Chad Cullers was the normal third man, but he got hurt and is now out for the season. Bryce Freed seemed like the next possible replacement, but has given up big runs and only lasted one inning against BYU on Saturday.

Now U baseball coach Bill Kinneberg has a different plan for his third-day starter, as the team heads into a game with UVSC in Orem tonight. The team will compete in a three-game weekend series at New Mexico.

“We’re going to start [Josh] Cooper on Friday and [Jason] Price is going to throw a few innings for us tomorrow night since he is on normal rest,” Kinneberg said.

Cooper has been one of the most valuable relievers for Kinneberg, but right now the team needs a third starter.

“I’m sure he [Cooper] can go about seven [innings] for us,” Kinneberg said. “He was able to give us three innings on Friday and two on Sunday. He’s a great competitor, and we just kind of feel like it’s the time to experiment a little bit and see if this helps us out.”

The old rotation had Price as the game one starter, Matt Crockett as the second starter and either Freed or Cullers as the third starter.

Now the Utes will have Cooper pitching the opening day, Crockett staying at the second spot and Price pitching the series finale.

Since Price is pitching the last game and will have a good amount of rest, Kinneberg will start him tonight against UVSC.

“Hopefully [Price] will get us off on the right foot,” Kinneberg said.

With Cooper in the starting rotation, there will be big hole in the middle relief.

“Brian Lane will be called on to hopefully close two games over the weekend,” Kinneberg said. “Josh Madsen put a couple of quality innings together. If we get into the middle innings and the starter hasn’t given us five, we are going to be in a little trouble.”

Even though pitching has some big questions marks, the offense has done its part in scoring a good amount.

“No doubt we are scoring some runs,” Kinneberg said. “Now toward the end of the season pitchers are getting a little tired and it may take 12 to 15 runs to win a ball game.”

Although the Utes’ focus is on the weekend conference series, the Tuesday games are also important to Kinneberg.

“The Tuesday games are to stay sharp and to get some guys some inning that need them,” Kinneberg said. “Naturally the importance is on the weekend, but we are in a situation where we just need wins.”

Last week the Utes played UVSC and the game was rained out in the second inning with the scored tied at two. This will be the fourth time the Utes have matched up with UVSC, splitting the two completed games. After this game, the two teams will match up two more times before the season ends.

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