Knock out: Utes lose game, consciousness to UVSC

OREM-With little to gain except in-state bragging rights, the U baseball team dropped the rubber game of its season series with UVSC Tuesday night-but the losses didn’t stop there.

Utah starting left fielder Seth Tartler was knocked unconscious in the third inning after running hard into the left-field wall trying to run down a deep fly ball off the bat of UVSC’s Nick Connor.

“He dove back because it was over his head, and he kind of hit his neck on the wall,” Ute center fielder John Welsh said.

“I was yelling ‘Wall, wall, wall!’ but [our outfielders] go so hard, we don’t really have any regard for the wall. He hit his neck and went right out.”

While Connor trotted around the bases for an inside-the-park home run-his first four-bagger of the season-Tartler lay motionless on the warning track.

“After I threw the ball in, he was still out, I tapped him and he wasn’t waking up, so I motioned for the trainers to come out,” Welsh said.

After a game delay of about 15 minutes, Tartler was carted off on a stretcher and driven via ambulance to Utah Valley Hospital.

Tartler did regain consciousness and had movement in all his extremities. He was released from the hospital late Tuesday night, Utah Sports Information Spokesman Andy Seely said.

“It looked pretty serious at the time, but I guess he’s alright now,” Welsh said.

Coincidentally or not, the Utes (18-31) couldn’t get much done after that third inning. They had gotten off to a 2-0 lead in the top of the third, thanks to RBI from Jay Brossman and Clayne Garrett, but after Connor’s homer tied it up for UVSC in the bottom of the inning, it was all Wolverines (17-36) as they cruised to an 8-2 victory, capturing the season series with Utah, three games to two.

Connor went 3-for-5 and drove in a pair of runs and the Wolverine bullpen pitched five scoreless innings in relief of starting pitcher Jed Jensen, who allowed two runs over four innings of work.

“Pitching did a good job. We only gave them two runs,” UVSC head coach Steve Gardner said. “We kept the score down and we scored a few. That helps pitching when you get a lead. Jensen threw pretty good.”

The Wolverines scored three runs apiece in both the third and fourth innings, and that was all the relievers needed to shut down the Utah bats the rest of the way.

“[Tartler’s injury] might have made an impact, but you still have to play on, and we just didn’t get the job done tonight,” Welsh said. “We couldn’t get any hits with guys in scoring position. We got guys on, but we couldn’t get them over and get them in, so it’s kind of tough.”

The Utes, who are resting their pitchers in preparation for next week’s conference tournament, used six different hurlers Tuesday night. Starter Chase Christensen pitched two perfect innings before giving way to the bullpen, which squandered the Utes’ early lead. Steven Collora and Bryce Freed gave up three runs apiece, as the Wolverines gradually put the game out of reach of the struggling Utes, who have now lost seven of their last eight games en route to losing the season series with UVSC.

“All the games with Utah have been really good,” Gardner said. “It’s just a great opportunity for our guys to play Mountain West teams. You’ve gotta give credit to the players.”

With the MWC Tournament a week away, the Utes have one series left before turning their attention solely on the tournament. The team will travel to Las Vegas to take on UNLV-the MWC’s first-place team-for a three-game set this weekend. It’s unclear whether Tartler will be available for the weekend series.

“We’ve beat [the Rebels] before, we’ve proven we can beat them,” Welsh said. “It’s just another series. We’ve gotta play hard and play to win.”

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