Utah Baseball Finishes Winless in Three Game Set at UCLA


Kevin Cody

University of Utah’s Kai Roberts (27) bats 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 Isaac Dunaway, Sports Writer


The University of Utah baseball team traveled to Los Angeles this Easter weekend to take on the No. 22 UCLA Bruins. After dropping the first two games, the Utes played to a 10-10 tie on Saturday due to a predetermined cutoff time.

After last Tuesday’s game versus Utah Tech was canceled due to snow, the Utes experienced much more ideal weather in LA against the Bruins. Unfortunately, UCLA picked up a 5-3 win on Thursday evening to start the series.

UCLA jumped out to a quick lead, scoring two runs in the first and three more in the third off of Utah starting pitcher Ernesto Lugo-Canchola. The Utes responded in the middle innings. Dakota Duffalo led off the fourth inning with a single to left field and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Davis Cop then drove him in on a single to put the Utes on the board. Cop ended up scoring himself on a hit from Jayden Kiernan.

Landon Frei got on base to begin the fifth inning. After advancing on a couple of groundouts, Frei scored to cut the lead to 5-3. Unfortunately, the Utes couldn’t complete the rally. Both teams went cold from that point on and UCLA won 5-3.

Friday’s game was a pitching duel to say the least. It was a great effort from Utes starting pitcher Bryson Van Sickle, who only gave up four hits and no runs in 5.1 innings. Cam Day, Zac McCleve and Micah Ashman in relief continued to hold the Bruins scoreless through eleven innings.

Utah couldn’t get them any run support throughout the game. The Utes had their chances to punch in a run. They left three runners on base combined in the first two innings. After three consecutive innings with no baserunners, Kai Roberts singled but Utah couldn’t get anything else going in the inning. Kiernan led off the seventh with a double to right-center field. Despite the leadoff double, the next three batters were retired and Utah couldn’t capitalize.

After a couple more scoreless innings from both sides, the game went into extras. In the eleventh inning, Utah had a great chance to break through. After the first two batters were retired, Kiernan got on base with a single. Cameron Gurney then walked, moving Kiernan to second and scoring position. Frei flew out to right in the next at bat, ending the inning.

The Bruins finally broke through in the bottom of the twelfth inning. After loading the bases, UCLA’s JonJon Vaughns singled and drove in the game winning run.

Saturday afternoon’s series finale was much more eventful. The Utes jumped out to a 3-0 lead, off of two runs in the second and another in the fourth. The Bruins countered with five runs in the bottom of the fourth and another in the fifth, taking a 6-3 lead.

The sixth inning continued this back and forth trend. Utah scored four and took a 7-6 lead. The highlight of the inning was a Matt Flaharty double that drove in two runs. Duffalo also picked up a pair of RBIs a few at bats later. UCLA retook the lead in the bottom of the inning with three more runs.

The game eventually settled with a 10-10 score and once again went into extra innings. After neither team could score in the tenth or eleventh, the game was called due to the predetermined time cutoff of 4:30 pm and ended 10-10.  This is because of the timing of the Utes return flight. The series finished with two UCLA wins and a tie.

The Utes are getting right back to it after arriving home in Salt Lake City. They have a weekend series home at Smith’s Ballpark against the Cal Golden Bears.


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