Cory Hunt had two hits and two RBI for the Utes against Sacramento State.
Feb. 17, 2014
SACRAMENTO - The Utah baseball team completed the series split against Sacramento State on Monday afternoon, defeating the Hornets 5-4.
Although Sacramento State took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning, Utah scored three runs in the second and two runs in the sixth inning to take a 5-2 lead. The Hornets cut into the lead with a solo run in the seventh and looked to repeat their ninth-inning rally from Sunday with a run in the ninth before Utah reliever Nick Green got a strikeout to end the game.
Utah went 2-2 during its opening weekend against Sacramento State.
"I think it's going to be like this most of the year - close ball games with pitching keeping us in it," Utah head coach Bill Kinneberg said. "We don't have a real explosive offense yet. Today was a good opportunity to work on that, and we got it done. All three pitchers were outstanding and our defense was very good, but the one thing I thought we did better today than we have all weekend was that we swung the bats really well. We only had eight hits, but we hit the ball hard and that was a good sign.
"We got a feel for the game a little bit this weekend. We played a solid team in Sacramento State. We got some guys some playing time because of the absence of Braden Anderson, TJ Bennett and now Dallas Carroll, so that's a positive. But our pitching was really good for four games, and that's a real positive sign for us."
Utah pitcher Bret Helton earned the first win of his career in his first career start on the mound. He pitched six innings, allowing two runs on three hits while strikeout out two. Zach Adams made his second appearance of the weekend, allowing one run on three hits over two innings. Green picked up his second save of the series, throwing the final inning and surrendering one run and two hits, striking out two.
Utah looked to get something started early, putting two on with two out in the first inning but left both runners stranded on base. Sacramento State took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. With two on and one out after a pair of hits, a run scored on a ground out and with a second run coming on an RBI single.
The Utes came back in the top of the second inning, taking the lead with a three-run inning. Biss Larsen hit a one-out double to left center followed by a single from Cody Scaggari. Scaggari stole second and set up a two-RBI single off the bat of Hunt. Hunt stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch, leading to a sacrifice fly from Davis.
Utah left two runners on base in the fifth inning after three walks before increasing its lead to 5-2 with a pair of runs in the sixth inning. After a pitching change, Tyler Yagi led off the inning with a single and Josh Rose walked to put two on. Both runners moved over on a sacrifice bunt before Scaggari hit into a sacrifice fly to score Yagi. Davis hit an RBI single to send a second run across the plate.
Sacramento State cut the lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh after three-straight one-out hits led to a run on a sacrifice fly. The Hornets looked to repeat their ninth-inning rally from Sunday with a base hit to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Utah reliever Green got the next two outs with a fly out and strike out, an RBI single led to a run before Green struck out the final batter to give the Utes the victory.
Utah returns to the diamond this weekend in Surprise, Ariz., for the Pac-12/Big 10 Challenge. Utah faces Michigan State on Friday, Feb. 21, followed by 2013 College World Series participant Indiana on Saturday, Feb. 22. The Utes close out the tournament against Nebraska on Sunday, Feb. 23.