April 1, 1998
UTES HEAD SOUTH: The Utah baseball team plays in-state rival Brigham Young at Cougar Field in Provo, Utah, Apr. 3 and 4. This will be the season's first meeting between the Utes (11- 21, 1-9) and Cougars (18-14, 4-8 WAC). The series begins with a single nine-inning contest on Fri., Apr. 3 at 2 p.m.. A double-header will kick off at Noon on Sat., Apr. 4.
The first game of the double-header will be a seven-inning game, immediately followed by a nine-inning contest. The Utes and Cougars split the series in `97 with the home team winning two games of a three-game series. Utah clinched its first WAC Mountain Division title since 1965 with a 12-7 victory in Provo. Utah's Casey Child blasted two home runs and Ute pitcher Sean Cawley earned the win on the mound. The two schools provided a slugfest in `97 with teams combining for 149 runs, with 96 of those scored at Cougar Field.
SNOWY START: Utah's series with Grand Canyon was ended by poor weather conditions in Salt Lake City over the weekend. The two teams played one nine-inning contest that the Utes dropped 12-10. After leading throughout the game, Utah relievers gave up six runs in the top of the ninth inning, giving the Utes their ninth conference loss. The remaining two-conference games between the Lopes and Utes will be played on the Utes road trip to Phoenix, Ariz, Apr. 23- 26.
INJURIES HIT EARLY: Utah has suffered major injuries to key players early in the `98 campaign. The Utes have already lost two starters to season ending injuries: MIKE GOFF(broken arm); and MATT MATEJECK (right knee). NATE FORBUSH returned to the Ute lineup as a designated hitter against TCU after missing two weeks with a hand injury.
UTE HEADLINERS: The Utes lost 12 letterman from the 1997 record setting squad and return only 2 position starters (NATE FORBUSH and CHAD TRUBY) and 11 underclass lettermen. As depleted as the batting lineup is, the Ute pitching corps is as deep as they ever have been. The Utes return seven letterman pitchers, but more importantly, return four starters and a primary closer.
The following Utes are players to watch during the `98 campaign: pitchers SEAN CAWLEY, RICK CLAGETT, RAY CLINTON, LANCE ERICKSEN and BRANDON PAGE; catchers NATE FORBUSH and JARED LARSEN; infielders CHAD TRUBY and BEN MARZIALE; and outfielder SAM SWENSON.
MAKING AN IMPACT: With the loss of key position players including: All-American centerfielder CASEY CHILD, third baseman CURTIS HALL, first baseman MICHAEL HEIDEMANN, and outfielders MATT EELES and DUSTY ATKINSON. There are obvious holes in the lineup, but not for long when these newcomers make their mark in the Ute lineup: designated hitter/outfielder JED CHRISMAN, infielder RYAN JOHNERSON, utility RYAN HILTS, pitcher BRETT McDERMAID, outfielders ERIC WALLACE and MIKE WOOD.
UTE COACHING STAFF: The Utes are under the direction of second-year head coach TIM ESMAY (42-27-1, Arizona State `88). Esmay guided the Utes to a 36-21-1 record, setting a school record for wins, and the Utes first divisional title since 1965. Esmay played on Arizona State's College World Series Teams and also played at Scottsdale Community College (Ariz.). Esmay served as an assistant coach under one-year Ute head coach Bill Kinneberg. When Kinneberg left for an assistant job at his alma mater, Arizona, Esmay was called upon to fill the coaching void. Esmay did more than fill a void as he led the `97 squad to a banner year that is undoubtedly the best season is school history.
Assisting Esmay in his efforts are assistants JOHN FLORES (Grand Canyon `94) and TODD DELNOCE (Arizona State `94). Flores returns for his second season as pitching coach and Delnoce, in his third season, assists in hitting and outfield instruction. New to the staff in `98 is volunteer assistant coach JOE GODRI.
UTAH at Brigham Young at Cougar Field - Provo, Utah Fri., Apr. 3, 1998 - 2 p.m. Sat., Apr. 4, 1998 - Noon
UTAH (11-21, 1-9 WAC) Projected Starting Lineup C Nate Forbush, 6-2, 220, L-R, Senior 1B John Summers, 6-0, 185, S-R, Junior 2B Ryan Hilts, 6-0, 185, R-R, Junior SS Chad Truby, 6-1, 185, R-R, Senior 3B Ben Marziale, 5-9, 175, R-R, Senior LF Eric Wallace, 6-0, 215, R-R, Junior CF Sam Swenson, 6-0, 170, R-R, Sophomore RF Mike Wood, 6-4, 220, R-R, Junior DH Jared Larsen, 6-0, 190, R-R, Junior
Projected Pitching Rotation for Brigham Young Series Game 1 Lance Ericksen, RHP, 6-2, 195, Junior Game 2 Rick Clagett, RHP, 6-4, 200, Senior Game 3 Sean Cawley, LHP, 6-3, 185, Senior