Utah Baseball Dominates in Series Opener But Falls Short to Cal Poly


Kevin Cody

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

By Abbey Thomas, Sports Editor


With the regular Pac-12 season coming to an end, the University of Utah baseball team (21-29-1, 8-18-1 Pac-12) welcomed one of their last opponents to Smith’s Ballpark this weekend. In the first meeting between the two teams in over 20 years, the Cal Poly Mustangs and the Utah Utes displayed a classic showdown over the weekend, with Utah dominating the series opener.

Friday’s kickoff match started off in true Ute fashion, with the team staying quiet through the first few innings; Cal Poly was able to snag a quick two runs in the first inning before hitting a bit of a scoring drought themselves. The action started to pick up, though, as Jake Gish stepped up to bat for Utah. Gish sent a single to left center, after which Matt Flaharty walked, advancing Gish to second.

An error from the Mustangs’ pitcher helped Gish secure the run, with Flaharty right behind him. Davis Cop and TJ Clarkson advanced to first and second after Cop was hit by a pitch, before Jayden Kiernan singled to right center and pushed the two up, with Cop scoring. Clarkson secured his own run after another single from Landon Frei to left field.

With the score now sitting at 4-2, Utah went into the fourth in the lead with Cal Poly showing no signs of breaking their drought. To kick off the inning, Gish nailed a homer to add another run to the tally. A balk from the Mustang side helped Flaharty to second, who then advanced to third after Bruer Webster grounded out. Flaharty took his second run of the night with a double from Kai Roberts, who scored himself after advancing on a wild pitch.

The Mustangs remained stagnant going into the fifth, while the Utes nabbed five more runs courtesy of Dakota Duffalo, Flaharty, Gish, Roberts and Cop. Cal Poly finally contributed more runs in the top of the sixth, scoring two and pushing the score to 12-4. 

The sixth inning would see Utah widen the gap even further, with Webster and Flaharty stealing second and third base before scoring a run each. Roberts and Cop both delivered a single at bat, and subsequently advanced through to home plate. The Mustangs claimed two more runs by the end of the eighth, while Utah upped their tally to end the game at 18-6.

Friday’s game proved to be a little more significant for Kiernan, who marked 200 career hits in the game, claiming a batting average of 0.415 for the season. Kiernan entered the weekend sitting at a 0.412 batting average, ranking 17th nationally and 2nd in the league.

Saturday’s middle game saw Cal Poly bring the heat, pushing back against Utah in the sixth inning to get 5 runs and take the lead, 9-7. A final run from Karson Bodily brought the Utes closer, but ultimately the team fell just short of overtaking the Mustangs, falling 8-9

On Sunday, the weekend’s third and final game started rough with Cal Poly coming out and claiming an early 0-3 lead in the first inning. Elijha Hammill sent a single to right field in the bottom of the third and secured his first run of the game after a wild pitch. Roberts added a run of his own after Clarkson grounded out to shortstop.

Utah tied it up at 4-4 in the fourth, with Duffalo and Kiernan making it home following another wild pitch. Both sides then hit something of a drought, going stagnant until the Mustangs executed a sudden death play, scoring two last minute runs in the top of the ninth to bring the game to 4-6. Unfortunately, the Utes failed to secure any more runs on their turn, and handed over the second win of the weekend to Cal Poly.

Sunday’s game also served as a celebration for Utah’s Class of 2023 seniors: Kiernan, Zac McCleve, Blake Whiting, and Gabe Singer

Following the departure of the Mustangs, the Utes have four games remaining in the regular season before the kick off of the Pac-12 tournament. On Tuesday, Utah will make a short trip down to Orem for a one-game matchup against UVU, before playing their final series at home in Smith’s Ballpark against the Oregon Ducks this weekend.


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