Utes struggle in first series

By By Marco Villano, Staff Writer

By Marco Villano, Staff Writer

The first road trip of the season doesn’t bode too well for the Utah baseball team.

The Utes kick-started their 12-game road trip with a four-game series against Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Calif. During the series, there were two games postponed because of darkness, an 11-inning grinder and a game in which the Utes allowed LMU to score 13 runs. In the end, Utah left Southern California with a record of 1-3 on the weekend and to start off the 2009 campaign.

The first game was an 11-inning battle that took two days to finish.

On Friday, Utah tied the game up 7-7 in the top of the ninth inning, but at the end of the inning the umpire called the game because of darkness. The Utes finished the contest Saturday before a scheduled doubleheader between the two teams. LMU’s Kyle Spraker hit a single down the left field line with the bases loaded to ensure the walk-off win, 8-7.

Utah bounced back from its loss early in the day with an 11-7 win, with the majority of its runs coming in the third and fifth innings. In the third inning, designated hitter Gavin Green started the rally for the Utes with a one-out double. After a few walks and a hit by pitch, new-comer Rick Cornu doubled down the left field line, sending in Zach Jones and Green to the home plate. Senior second basemen Corey Shimada stepped up to the plate and singled down the right field line, bringing in shortstop Michael Beltran and Cornu to give the Utes a 4-0 lead.

LMU cut into the lead by the fourth inning, 5-3, but Utah erupted in the fifth. The Utes accumulated six hits in the fifth inning, which turned into five runs and a 10-3 lead.

The Lions made a push in the ninth with a couple of runs, but relief pitcher Robert Chimpky went in to close the game for Utah. Jordan Whatcott picked up his first win as a Ute, going five innings with five strikeouts. He had a lot of help from the offense with every player in the lineup having a hit. Five players had two hits and four had two RBIs.

“We swung the bats extremely well in game two,” said head coach Bill Kinneberg in a statement. “It was a struggle defensively. Jordan pitched OK, we didn’t have too many clean innings, which is something we need to shore up on a little bit. It was good to get the first win of the season under our belts.”

The Lions answered the 11 runs the Utes tallied earlier in the day8212;and then some8212;with a 13-run scoring barrage that also took two days to finish. The two teams were scheduled to play a doubleheader Saturday, but could only get through seven innings before the game was called because of darkness once again.

At the time the game was postponed, the Lions had a 6-1 lead over the Utes, who were struggling to make plays defensively. Utah had three errors, which allowed LMU to score three times. Lions pitcher Alex Gillingham gave up three hits in seven innings to the Utes.

The final game, played Sunday, was a pitching duel between Bryn Card for Utah and Lee Roberts for LMU. Roberts and Card pitched for seven innings, and though Roberts gave up eight hits, he walked away with the 3-1 win.

Despite only allowing five hits, Card allowed the Lions to score three times. Nick Kuroczko scored the lone run for the Utes after picking up a triple. He was 2-for-3 at the plate for Utah.

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