Brock Duke picked up the game two win over USC on Friday afternoon.
March 16, 2012
LOS ANGELES - The Utah baseball team opened its inaugural Pac-12 campaign with a doubleheader sweep over 27th-ranked USC on Friday afternoon, winning game one, 1-0, and game two, 3-1.
"We pitched extremely well both games," Utah head coach Bill Kinneberg said. "Giving up one run in 18 innings at USC is special. We got some key hits and really executed today. It was two good team wins for us. We had contributions all the way down the lineup. It was a good day for Utah baseball today."
In game one, starter Joe Pond and reliever Tyler Wagner combined to allow just three hits with nine strikeouts. Pond threw seven innings, striking out seven and surrendering three hits. Wagner pitched three innings, giving up no hits with two strikeouts. He earned the win after Utah scored in the eighth inning.
Utah stranded eight on base during the game, while USC left seven. Pond allowed just one runner to get past second base. The Utes nearly broke the scoreless tie in the sixth inning, when Parker Morin rallied with a two-out single, followed by a deep double from Trey Nielsen that bounced off the wall, but Morin was thrown out at home trying to score.
Utah won game two despite being out-hit 9-5 in the contest. USC started the game off strong at the plate, as five of their nine hits came in the first two innings. The Trojans scored a run in the first inning after three-straight hits, and looked to continue the barrage in the second inning after a leadoff single before a double play got Utah out of the inning. Double plays played a big role for Utah in game two, turning three in the contest.
"We turned some really crucial double plays," Kinneberg said. "The pitchers did a good job of getting ground balls, and our infield defense was again very good today."
The Utes tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth. Brooks led off the inning when he was hit by the pitch. He moved over on a sacrifice bunt and scored with a Morin RBI single. Utah scored two runs in the seventh inning to take a 3-1 lead. Nielsen led off the inning with a single up the middle. Leiter was issued a two-out walk and Cooperstone singled to center field and bring Nielsen across the plate. After a pitching change, Brooks singled to send in Leiter.
Although USC left two on base in the eighth inning, reliever Mitch Watrous got out of the inning unscathed.
Ute starter Brock Duke settled down after a rough start, allowing one run on eight hits with five strikeouts over seven innings in the victory. Watrous threw the final two innings, allowing just one hit and striking out two.
"I was really impressed with Mitch Watrous today," Kinneberg said. "To be in his situation and come in and close a game as a freshman at USC, he just went right after it."
Game three of the series is scheduled for Saturday at 2:00 p.m. PT, but inclement weather is forecasted for the Los Angeles area over the weekend. Stay tuned to UtahUtes.com for any schedule updates.