April 25, 2009

Courtesy of Utah

SALT LAKE CITY - Five players had multiple hits as the Utah baseball team defeated No. 1 ranked UC Irvine, 7-3, on Saturday afternoon at Spring Mobile Ballpark.

Utah took a 1-0 lead in the first inning with Nick Kuroczko blasting a solo home run to right center field. The Utes added two more in the second inning on Cooper Blanc's two-run homer to left field.

UC Irvine got on the board in the third inning. Ryan Fisher reached base on an error, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a ground out for an unearned run to cut the Ute lead to 3-1.

The Utes added a run in the fourth inning with Blanc hitting a long single to center field to score Gavin Green.

UC Irvine threatened to put a few on the board in the fifth inning after Casey Stevenson and Ronnie Shaeffer led off the inning with a pair of singles. Ute starter Jordan Whatcott struck out Ryan Fisher swinging and Green made a key play in right field with a diving catch to steal extra bases from Sammy Donabedian for two outs. Although Stevenson scored when Matt Summers singled up the middle, the Utes got out of the inning relatively unscathed, holding a 4-2 lead.

Both teams scattered one-run innings through the remainder of the game. Kuroczko took advantage of a walk in the fifth inning, stealing second and advancing to third on a wild pitch before scoring when C.J. Cron singled through the left side. UC Irvine put up a run in the sixth with Eric Deragisch scoring on Jeff Cusick's double. The Utes scored again in the bottom of the sixth after Michael Beltran singled to reach base before beating out a throw at the plate following a well-placed short single from Tyler Yagi, putting the Utah lead at 6-3.

Whatcott pitched through the seventh inning, allowing two earned runs and six hits with four strikeouts. He picked up his third victory of the year.

Utah would score once more in the eighth inning as Yagi had his second RBI hit of the day, a single to left center to score Beltran, who was on third after a triple. Greg Krause faced four batters in the eighth inning with a strikeout. Stephen Streich closed out the game in the ninth and struck out two.

Blanc, who returned to the field this week following an absence with a hamstring injury, went 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored. Yagi was 2-for-5 with two RBI. Kuroczko, Cron and Austin Jones also had multiple hits for the Utes, while every player in the lineup had at least one hit.

"We played a solid game today," head coach Bill Kinneberg said. "We made plays and got key hits. The two hits that Tyler Yagi had were huge for us and Gavin Green made some key plays defensively. It is fun to see several freshmen coming along so well for us. We also got three good pitching outings on the mound. Jordan has done really well over the last month. He competes and battles and the team is confident when he is out there."

The Utes begin a seven game road stretch on Tuesday, April 28, against Utah Valley at 7:00 p.m.