Utes on track after win against TCU

By Marco Villano, Staff Writer

The chatter around the clubhouse following the Utah baseball team’s win over No. 14 TCU, was, “It’s about time.”

After a four-game skid, a couple of which could have gone either way, it was about time for a big win by Utah.

The Utes (8-11, 2-4 MWC) picked up one win over a three-game series against the Horned Frogs (13-6, 2-1 MWC), and it came in a dramatic fashion.

In the bottom of the 10th inning, the Utes found themselves in another tight game against TCU. Down 8-7 with two men on and two outs, captain Corey Shimada stepped up to the plate and waited for his pitch.

On the second pitch at bat, Shimada ripped a line-drive down the right-field line, which banked off the wall, sending in pinch runner Josh Reed and center fielder Zach Jones, giving Utah the win, 9-8.

“I just knew that I had to get my pitch and if I got it I had to hit it hard,” Shimada said. “It’s a great confidence booster, not only for me but for my team.”

But Utah should have never been in that position in the first place.

Jordan Whatcott got the start on the bump and pitched a great game for seven innings, giving up three runs on eight hits. The offense gave Whatcott a lot of insurance by scoring six runs in the first inning, and first baseman Austin Jones added another in the bottom of the seventh.

“He was outstanding for seven innings today,” coach Bill Kinneberg said. “I liked his sixth and seventh innings but he got over a hundred pitches, so we had to get him out.”

With a 7-3 lead heading into the top of the eighth, relief pitcher Robert Chimpky got the nod. Chimpky started the inning with a strikeout and the Utes looked to be in route to pick up an easy victory. That was until Chimpky gave up back-to-back home runs to Matt Vern and Bryan Holaday.

Chimpky was pulled and Greg Krause came in to get Utah out of the inning. Krause gave up a hit and struck out two leaving the Utes on top, 7-5.

Krause was left in to close out the ninth and TCU started to rally from the get-go with a Ben Carruthers double, followed by another double by Matt Carpenter, leaving the Horned Frogs with runners on second and third.

A hit and a sac fly would score two, and the Utes wouldn’t do anything in the bottom half, sending the game into extra innings.

Stephen Streich was called to the hill to pick up the win for Utah in extras. He gave up a run and two hits, leaving it up to the offense in the bottom of the 10th, down 8-7, to pick up a much needed win.

“I told my guys after the game “we got to get going now’,” Kinneberg said. “We’ve got six non-conference games before we play UNLV again, we better get back on track.”

The Utes found themselves in a similar situation during Friday’s contest against TCU.

Up 7-4 heading into the ninth inning, Chimpky came in to close it out for Utah, but failed by giving up four runs in the inning.

Kinneberg knows this relief staff is all they have to work with this season and they have given up some close games already, but Utah’s coach will have to find some way to close out games if his crew wants to be a good team.

“We’ve got to gain some confidence in our guys and those are our guys that are going to have to do it,” Kinneberg said. “We can’t release guys and we can’t draft new ones, so they’re our guys.”

The Utes were 1-4 during Spring Break, with one of the losses coming against Southern Utah 6-4 on March 17. Utah will travel to Spokane, Wash., for a two game set against Gonzaga on March 24 and March 25.

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