Dustin Hennis hit his firth homer -- and second grand slam -- Saturday.
April 14, 2007
SALT LAKE CITY - Dustin Hennis had just one hit Saturday afternoon at Franklin Covey Field. But the University of Utah left fielder made that one hit count, pounding a grand slam as part of a five-run fifth inning for the Utes. Utah used that inning to take a 5-4 Mountain West Conference win over San Diego State.
SDSU (22-16, 7-3 MWC) scored single runs in the second and fifth innings to grab a 2-0 lead against Ute starter Eric King. But Utah (15-19, 4-4 MWC) roared back in the bottom of the fifth frame. Ute third baseman Bret Baldwin got things started with a single up the middle against Aztec starter Bruce Billings, who had allowed just one hit through the first four innings.
Baldwin later gave Utah its first run of the contest, when shortstop Mike Mitchell singled through the right side. Second baseman Corey Shimada poked a one-out single to center and first baseman Jay Brossman drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases.
With the bases juiced, Hennis powered Billings' first offering over the right-field wall to put the Utes on top, 5-2. It was Hennis' fifth home run of the season and his second grand slam. Reliever Shane Kaufman stopped the bleeding for the Aztecs and kept Utah off the board for the final four innings, allowing his team a chance to climb back into the contest.
King hit a batter and walked one in the sixth, but was able to escape the inning unharmed. He ran into a little more trouble in the seventh, but some stellar defense bailed him out. SDSU had runners at first and second with one out when Troy Hanzawa singled to right field. But Ute right fielder John Welsh threw a perfect strike to catcher Jesse Shriner, who tagged Calvin Johnson trying to score from second. Hanzawa then got hung up between first and second and was eventually tagged out after a run-down. The unconventional double play got King out of trouble again.
In the top of the ninth, Bruneel retired Johnson and Hanzawa, before issuing a free pass to Romero. That brought Frank LoNigro, who already had three hits in the game, to the plate. But Bruneel got LoNigro to swing at -- and miss -- three straight pitches, preserving the one-run Utah win. Bruneel picked up his third save of the season.
King (4-1) took the win. He allowed three earned runs on eight hits over seven innings of work. Billings (3-2) suffered the loss for San Diego State, allowing five runs on six hits. Brossman and Baldwin were both 2-for-3 at the plate and each scored one run for Utah. LoNigro led the Aztecs' offense, going 3-for-5 with two runs scored.
The rubber game of the series will be played Sunday at Franklin Covey Field. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m.