Baseball: Learning process

By By Cody Brunner and By Cody Brunner

By Cody Brunner

Utah baseball head coach Bill Kinneberg knew it would be rough in the beginning.

Opening with a 17-game road stretch, fostering a young team and not being able to practice outdoors for almost the first month and a half, Kinneberg expected there to be a transition period.

It seems as though the Utes are right in the middle of that period.

“It takes a while for everybody to get used to this level of play and practicing indoors is not going to help too much,” Kinneberg said. “We just need to get 10 or so games under our belt to adjust and see where we’re at.”

The opening weekend was disappointing for the Utes, but there was a lot of takeaway value. Despite losing all three games, the Utes showed they were more than capable of competing with San José State, as Kinneberg’s team lost two of the games by a single run.

“We have got a lot of work to do and we have a lot of evaluation ahead of us,” Kinneberg said. “What’s hard is that we didn’t overcome some of the difficulties we experienced in those two games (when) we were in position to win.”

Utah showed plenty of positives in the opening weekend as well. Cody Guymon and Jesse Shriner both impressed at the plate for the Utes. Guymon went 6-for-9 at the plate on the weekend to chalk up a .667 batting average, which is good for first in the MWC, and Shriner hit a home run and two doubles.

On the hill, the Utes might have found a legitimate ace in Oregon State transfer Brian Budrow. The right-hander got the nod in game two last week and didn’t disappoint, recording eight strikeouts and allowing four hits in five innings of work.

Where the Utes struggled against the Spartans was in the field, committing crucial errors in key situations.

“We played good team defense at times, but then we would make mental mistakes or force errors at bad points in the game,” Kinneberg said.

The Utes had better hope that they worked out the kinks against the Spartans because they will face a solid UC-Davis team four times this weekend.

The Aggies (3-2) topped No. 18 Fresno State in their first two games of the season, before dropping the final two games of the series to the Bulldogs. UC-Davis returns six starters and its top four pitchers from a team that went 24-32 last year.

“We’ve got our hands full this weekend,” Utah second-baser Corey Shimada said. “UC-Davis is supposed to be pretty good, so we have to be ready.”

The Utes’ first game is at 2 p.m. today. They will play a doubleheader Saturday at 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. before wrapping up the weekend with a game Sunday at 2 p.m.

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