Utah Baseball Avoids Another Sweep, Comes Up Big in Game Three Against OSU

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University of Utah graduate student Brayson Hurdsman(28) in a NCAA Baseball game vs. BYU at Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday, Mar. 11, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Justin Prather, Sports Writer

 

University of Utah baseball traveled to Corvallis, OR to take on the Oregon State University Beavers in a three-game conference match-up. Utah had just come off a home win against Cal to avoid a three-game shutout. Utah’s weekend in Oregon would end much the same.

Justin Kelly started on the mound for Utah and allowed nine of OSU’s 11 hits on the night for four runs, but racked up five strikeouts. In his five innings pitched, three were scoreless for the Beavs. 

Utah scored two in the fourth inning to hold the lead for a bit. Jaylon McLaughlin led off with a double, later making his way to third. Matt Richardson walked and was followed by Vinny Zavolta after getting hit by a pitch to load the bases. A single from Jayden Kiernan brought Richardson and McLaughlin home. Utah would enjoy the lead for an inning before OSU had a good enough fifth to score three and hold Utah for the rest of the night, taking game one 4-3. 

In game two, Utah got started early at the plate hanging one run on OSU pitcher Kevin Abel in the first. Leadoff batter Zavolta was walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch, third on a ground out from Kiernan and trotted across the plate on a single from Christopher Rowan Jr. 

Kyle Robeniol started on the rubber for Utah and favored his off-speed to retire all six batters in the first and second with help from the field, notably centerfielder McLaughlin. The Beavers’ outfielder Jacob Melton answered for OSU in the bottom of the third with a homer over the rightfield wall. Robeniol shook it off and managed to get out of the inning without further incident. On the mound, Robeniol held strong in his start until the fifth where he allowed five runs giving the Beavers momentum they carried through the rest of the night. 

In the fourth, Trey Clarkson led off with a walk and made it to second on what was intended as a sacrifice bunt from McLaughlin who put the pedal to the floor to beat the Beavs defense to first base. Tyler Thompson laid down a sac bunt to advance Utah runners to third and second. A strikeout and a ground out stranded McLaughlin and Clarkson to end the inning. 

Utah had decent at-bats but would convert only three runs. The Beavers began to slip away in the sixth adding two runs to go up 8-2 and arguably began to unnecessarily run up the score in the seventh and eighth with nine additional runs, winning 17-3.

The Utes came out for game three looking surprisingly confident for a team who gave up 17 runs the day before. They were quiet for the first four innings only getting on base once on a walk, but they performed phenomenally on defense handing the Beavs seven scoreless innings on the day. 

Oregon State pitcher Cooper Hjerpe looked to be handling Ute batters with ease until he began to fall apart in the fifth. Shea Kramer led off in the fifth inning with a single followed by a sac bunt from McLaughlin who again reached first just before the play. They both advanced on a wild pitch and were joined by Rykker Tom on a walk. Another passed ball brought in the first run for Utah, tying the score 1-1. Richardson laid down a bunt to advance the runners and put the Utes up one. Zavolta, who had a hot weekend at the plate, hit a double to bring in Tom and found his way across on a single from Kiernan. 

The Utes would add one more run in the seventh inning to go up 5-1,  giving them some breathing room to help hold a Beaver team with a penchant for late-game rallies. Oregon State would take advantage of a tiring David Watson on the mound for Utah in the eighth. Watson, who threw 106 balls to 30 batters in seven innings, retired two batters before allowing a hit and a hit pitch by pitch. Brayson Hurdsman was called in to take over for Watson, who had allowed one run in his start but racked up two more from the bench for a 5.06 game ERA with seven strikeouts. Watson would also record his second win for the season.

Hurdsman allowed a double that scored two runs for OSU, but shook it off to strike out the next batter and end the inning. In the ninth, Hurdsman closed out two, walked one and the game ended with a caught fly to center, Utah winning 5-3 to again fend off a three game sweep. 

Utah heads back to Utah for the next four games starting with a midweek game on Tuesday, April 6 down in St. George against Dixie State. Conference play resumes for the weekend at Smith’s Ballpark against Washington State.

 

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