Utes keep good morale despite losses

By Marco Villano, Staff Writer

Many would think that a team that has lost six straight games would lose heart, but the Utes haven’t.

The Ute baseball team (13-18, 3-9 MWC) is on a six-game slide, with a tough series ahead of them against rival BYU (20-15, 7-5 MWC) starting tonight.

Of those six losses, four were in extra innings, including three to New Mexico last weekend.

Losses in that fashion could have shut Utah down mentally, but instead, the team has banded together and is pushing for a run.

“It was a positive weekend even though we lost all three,” said Ute pitcher Brian Budrow. “We got together and had a nice team meeting over the weekend, the team shared some thoughts together and I think we’re on the same page now.”

A team meeting with no coaching staff might be what the team needs.

As of right now, the Utes sit in second-to-last place in the Mountain West Conference, just ahead of Air Force. When looking at their record, it seems they aren’t playing well. When looking between the lines, though, they have been in a lot of close games against some good teams.

“We know that we got a good team,” said outfielder Nick Kuroczko. “Some people look at our record and they don’t see that. We’ve been playing a tough schedule this year and especially with ranked teams8212;we’re right there with them.”

The best team the Utes have faced this season is former No. 12 Texas A&M.

The game was played at College Station, Texas, and Utah was able to pick up a win in the second game of the series. They were in the final game of the series, but lost it in the bottom of the ninth, 12-11, a microcosm of their season so far.

The biggest reason they’ve been in so many games is because of the starting pitching.

Utah’s starting rotation has been stellar all season, with Budrow leading the way with a 4-1 record and a 4.00 ERA. But they still aren’t picking up many wins and the three pitchers with eight starts have at least three no-decision games. Budrow said if the Utes want to start winning, it’ll have to start with the bullpen.

“The bullpen needs to hold it down at the end of games,” Budrow said. “Other than that, I just think we need to play the same way we played (against New Mexico).”

The way they’ve been playing is solid, but without much to show for it.

Utah had its chances against the Lobos, but a few bad breaks cost it some games. If they keep playing the way they have been during the past six games, the chips will begin to fall into place and the Utes will start winning.

It will all have to start against the Cougars.

The last time Utah and BYU met on the diamond, the Cougars edged out the Utes with two wins out of three games.

Utah will travel to Provo for the first game where Budrow and Cougars ace Jeremy Toole will face off against each other. Following that, both teams will head north to Spring Mobile Ballpark (formerly Franklin Covey Field). The Utes want the win down there in order to carry that momentum to their home park.

“We’ll have Brian Budrow with us starting it off and he’s been great this year,” Kuroczko said. “I think we’re going to get that first win down at BYU8212;it’s going to set off the series bringing it back to Covey.”

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Tyler Cobb

Utes baseball team is looking forward to its matchup against BYU Friday after the team met over the weekend to get on an even plane.