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New Program Records Highlight Utah Baseball’s Three Win Week

Clarkson and Digiorno led the team in runs scored, with the latter Ute reaching base for his 18th consecutive game.
Kevin Cody
University of Utah redshirt sophomore Matthew Sox(35) in an NCAA baseball game vs. Washington State at Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, April 10, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


After winning two of three conference games against Stanford to end March, Utah baseball didn’t skip a beat during the first week of April. Across two series, the Utes took three out of four games to improve their overall record to 21-9. 

The team’s first test of the new month was a two-game home-and-home series against the Utah Valley Wolverines. 

Game One – Utah Valley 

The Utes’ first contest of the week got off to a slow start, with the game’s first run coming in the fifth inning by way of a Wolverines solo home run. Despite Utah’s slow start, the back half of the game would tell a different tale. 

Senior Kai Roberts got the ball rolling for Utah in the bottom of the fifth inning. Roberts singled through the right side, bringing in shortstop Core Jackson for the score, tying the game at one run apiece. 

Roberts’ RBI would set the tone, as Utah’s offense continued cooking, rattling off 10 unanswered runs, with eight scored in the sixth inning alone. 

The Utes’ offensive explosion in the sixth began with a Landon Frei pinch-hit triple that gave Utah the lead at 3-1. What would follow was a flurry of insurance as Matt Flaharty singled to bring Frei home, Roberts added two more runs on a single, a Drake Digiorno double scored another, and TJ Clarkson ended the party with a double that brought Digiorno across home plate. At the end of the inning, the Utes went from being tied to up seven runs, 8-1. 

The Utes continued to widen the scoring gap in the final few innings, but the story of the day was the team’s impressive pitching effort. Starter Colter McAnelly and lefty reliever Ernesto Lugo-Canchola combined for 14 strikeouts, giving up only five hits on the day. With an impressive four innings in relief without giving up a run, Lugo-Canchola earned his first win of the season. 

Game Two – Utah Valley 

five-run inning and two solo home runs highlighted the Utes’ second game against Utah Valley. Down south at UCCU Ballpark in Orem, the team clawed their way back into the lead after going down early thanks to a Wolverines three-run homer in the first inning. 

Entering the fourth down 5-1, Utah’s catcher Hunter Antillon began Utah’s offensive resurgence with a home run to left center to make the game’s score 5-2. 

The fifth inning was when the Utes reeled the game in, as the team racked up five runs to regain a lead over Utah Valley, 7-5. The scoring continued into the ninth, with Utah responding to each of the Wolverines’ attempts to regain the lead with a flurry of scores. In the end, Utah was out on top, sweeping the series with a final score of 13-8. 

Utah had 12 hits from eight players, with four of these batters having multiple hits on the day. Roberts was one of the team’s multi-hit batters, earning two steals to go along with two hits in the matchup. Digiorno, Clarkson and Karson Bodily were the team’s other multi-hit performers, with Bodily mashing two of the team’s five total doubles. 

Utah was forced to use six pitchers to quell the Wolverines offense. Righty Jackson Elder earned his second win of the season with 3.1 innings pitched in relief, while Micah Ashman closed the game with two strikeouts in the ninth to secure the team’s hard-fought victory. 

Game Three – CSUN

The first game of Utah’s second series in the first week of April was one of broken records, as the team came out victorious against the Cal State University Northridge Matadors with a final score of 14-10

Two major program records were broken in the game. The first, center fielder Roberts broke the Utah program record for career stolen bases, stealing two against CSUN to earn the 53rd of his career. The second, left-handed closer Ashman earned his program-record-setting 18th collegiate save. Ashman’s record-breaking save bested Tyler Wagner’s record of 17 games from 2010-12.

Offensively, no Ute had a better performance than Frei, who went 4-for-4 with a three-run homer, six RBIs and two runs scored. The offensive breakout came in the junior’s first start at left field this season. Even more impressive, Frei’s six runs batted in are the most by a Ute this season. 

In total, Utah tallied a whopping 15 hits in their first game against CSUN. While Frei accounted for four, three other Utes also had multiple hits. Roberts, who has been Utah’s most consistent hitter of the season, had three to go along with his two stolen bases, all being singles, while Clarkson and Bruer Webster each had two hits. 

Clarkson and Digiorno led the team in runs scored (3), with the latter Ute reaching base for his 18th consecutive game. 

In terms of pitching, redshirt senior Bryson Van Sickle earned his first win of the season. The left-hander pitched six innings, giving up six earned runs, but still managed to squeak out a win thanks to Utah’s spectacular offensive effort. Randon Hostert entered the game in the sixth and pitched two innings of one-run relief, while Lugo-Canchola and Ashman finished the game in the ninth.

Game Four – CSUN 

Initially a three-game series that included a Saturday contest on April 6th, the Utes’ concluded their series against CSUN on Sunday, after weather canceled their matchup a day prior. 

The second game of the CSUN series did not go Utah’s way. The team went down early, giving up five runs in the first inning, never finding enough offense to crawl back into the game. After nine innings of play, an 18-4 trouncing was the final tally that ended the team’s undefeated week. 

Despite lopsided scoring, Utah did have players that stood out offensively. None more impressive than Antillon who ended the day 3-for-4 with a home run in the fifth inning. The Utah catcher’s team-leading three hits also marked the most by a Utes catcher this season. 

Frei also continued his streak of eye-catching offensive performances. The five-tool player who recently cracked Utah’s starting lineup registered two hits on three at-bats against the Matadors. Frei’s two hits joined Antillon as the only members of the team to record multiple knocks. 

First baseman Digiorno did have a hit to extend his on-base streak to 21 games. Additionally, Utes’ shortstop Jackson earned his third triple of the season with an RBI in the seventh. 

In the end, it was Utah’s performance on the mound that caused their downfall. Starter Brett Porthan ended his day early, pitching one inning and giving up five earned runs. After that, the Utes would send in five more pitchers, with all having similar struggles against CSUN’s offense. 

Looking Ahead

The rivalry game against the Brigham Young University Cougars is approaching fast — the Utes take them on in a single home game on Tuesday, April 9th, with the first pitch scheduled at 6 p.m. MT.


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About the Contributors
Austin Eames, Sports Writer
Austin Eames began writing for the Daily Utah Chronicle as a junior. Now a senior at the U, he writes for the Sports desk. Originally from Mission Viejo, California, he loves the beach but was willing to trade it in for the gorgeous Utah mountains. He loves most if not all sports, especially Lakers basketball and Chargers football. In his free time, you can find him in the never-ending pursuit of improving his golf game.
Kevin Cody
Kevin Cody, Photographer
Although he was born in Texas, Kevin Cody quickly found his home in the mountains of the west. He is a storyteller at heart, focusing on experiencing the world through his camera. Kevin will graduate this fall with a communications degree with a minor in digital photography. This is Kevin's second undergraduate degree as he is an alumnus of Oklahoma State University, a 2013 graduate with a degree in natural resource ecology and management.

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