Utah Baseball Keeps Games Close Against No. 15 UCLA


Kevin Cody

University of Utah redshirt sophomore Matthew Sox (35) and redshirt sophomore Jayden Kiernan (26) in a NCAA baseball game vs. Washington State at Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City, Utah on April 10, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sean Overton, Sports Editor


After a bad loss against Utah Valley University, the University of Utah baseball team (18-13-1, 5-7 Pac-12) headed home looking to rebound. Unfortunately they were facing No. 15 UCLA in a three-game stretch.

Despite UCLA being ranked so high, Utah was able to keep both of their losses within one run, including a game that went to extra innings.

Utah first played UCLA on Friday, April 8. Utah took a very strong start in that game, getting on the board first and scoring three runs in the fourth inning. By the end of the fifth, Utah had a comfortable 5-1 lead.

UCLA slowly started to fight back, scoring one in the seventh and three of their own in the eighth. Utah had the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, but were unable to capitalize as the game went into extra innings.

UCLA was able to score on a wild pitch in inning 10 to take the lead, and Utah was unable to counter. Utah unfortunately lost 5-6 in a close game against a powerful opponent.

Utah came back the next day determined to even the series, but UCLA had other plans. Utah once again opened the scoring in the second inning. But UCLA quickly found their form, scoring two runs in both the fourth and fifth innings to put Utah down 1-4.

Utah got a run back in the sixth with a single from Davis Cop to score Jayden Kiernan. Matt Richardson grounded out to short stop in the eighth to score Kiernan yet again.

Utah had the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, just one run away from completing a comeback. Alex Baeza hit a high fly ball towards the gap in right center field. But a running catch from UCLA ended the game as a 3-4 loss for the Utes.

Utah was able to narrowly avoid being swept by UCLA in the final game. The Utes jumped out to a hot start, scoring three in the first inning. But that excitement was soon swept away when UCLA got four in the second inning.

Utah gained one back in the third to even the score at 4-4. Both teams failed to score in the fourth and fifth innings.

UCLA put up two more in the sixth inning to put the Utes in a tough situation. The seventh inning was where the Utes really excelled, scoring three runs to regain the lead.

The run to give Utah the lead was made when Baeza was walked, scoring Landon Frei. The Utes went on to win the game 7-6 over the Bruins. This was Utah’s first known win over a ranked UCLA team. They defeated them once in 1970, but it is unknown whether UCLA was nationally ranked.

Utah’s next games will once again come against a ranked opponent as they face No. 20 Arizona at home. This will be another important stretch for the Utes as they look to gain a positive record in Pac-12 play.


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