Utah Baseball Falls Prey to Wildcats in Series of Three


J. Prather

The Utes baseball team celebrates a victory against the BYU Cougars at Smith’s Ballpark on May 8, 2018. (Photo by J. Prather | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Abbey Thomas, Assistant Sports Editor


As finals week began to hang over the heads of students everywhere, the University of Utah baseball team headed down to Tucson, Arizona to face off in a series of three games against the Arizona Wildcats.

In the week leading up to the games, the Utes had a successful bout against fellow Utah rivals BYU, claiming a 29-14 victory to help get the team into gear for the following weekend.

Although fans are somewhat used to a slow start with Utah games, the first of the three games gave viewers an exciting opening. As the guest, Utah stepped up to bat to kick off the first match. Kai Roberts started off well and singled to center field, with TJ Clarkson doubling to the left center to help Roberts over home plate. Arizona snuck in a run at the last second during the bottom of the first to tie it up, with the Wildcats’ Mac Bingham making the run.

Heading into the second inning, Landon Frei singled to center field and quickly advanced to third, following a double to right field by Matt Flaherty. Bruer Webster followed suit with a single to left field, getting Frei over the plate and Flaherty to third, who then scored after a throwing error. Webster claimed his own score to pass the second inning over to Arizona, sitting at 5-1. Unfortunately, the euphoria didn’t last too long, with the Wildcats claiming three points of their own at the bottom of the second, making it 5-4.

The nerves continued to grow over the next two innings, with each team only adding one run each to the tally. At the top of the sixth, Utah had added three more runs courtesy of Clarkson, Davis Cop, and Jayden Kiernan. When it came to Arizona’s turn, a homer from Tony Bullard kicked off a scoring run of six points, blowing past Utah to make it 9-11. The remaining innings were unremarkable for the Utes, while Arizona added three more in the bottom of the eighth to claim the first night, 9-14.

If the loss from the night before wasn’t tough enough, Saturday’s game would prove to be a very tough blow. The first two innings passed without much action on Utah’s side, but the bottom of the second brought Arizona a quick six points to jump ahead. Utah remained quiet going into the third, while the Wildcats casually claimed another nine runs by the end of the inning.

A series of flyouts from Utah’s side restricted scoring efforts going into the fourth — much to Arizona’s benefit, as the bottom of the fourth saw four more runs added to their tally, now sitting at 0-19. The next 3 innings remained scoreless for both sides, before Utah stepped in at the top of the ninth to deliver two runs — from Kaden Carpenter and Kiernan —  salvaging a bit of pride and denying Arizona from claiming a shutout, ending at 2-19.

With two hard defeats behind them, Utah was not ready to leave Tucson without a fight. The third and final game began calmly enough, save for Arizona nabbing a late run at the bottom of the first.

At the top of the third, the Utes started to get a leg up on the Wildcats. Karson Bodily walked to first and stole second before sneaking past third on a Cop single and putting the Utes up 1-2. Kiernan, also granted a walk to first, subsequently scored after a groundout from catcher Cameron Gurney, bringing it to 3-1. Utah’s quick moment of bliss, however, was brought to an end in the bottom of the third.

As Arizona began to wrap up the third inning, a triple from Mason White saw two Wildcats cross home plate, before another triple from Tyler Casagrande helped White complete a run as well. Seemingly struck by surprise, Utah moved through the following five innings struggling to make it past first base and failed to answer another 4 runs by the Wildcats, ending the seventh 3-9.

Cop opened the top of the eighth with a double to left center, while Flaherty advanced on a field error before he stole second. Webster delivered a single to left field, allowing his two teammates on base to make the final runs of the game, ending it at 5-9.

After a tough-fought weekend in sunny Arizona, the Utes traveled home late Sunday before the team turned around to head to St. George on Tuesday for a 13-3 win against Utah Tech. Starting Friday, Washington State University was in town to play the Utes through the weekend at Smith’s Ballpark and the Utes won the series 3-0. Next up, the team is at Oregon State in Corvallis for a weekend series.

Fans wishing to join in the fun at the next home game can grab tickets at utahtickets.com/baseball.


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