Beat Arizona. Check.
Beat Arizona State, check.
Undefeated against in-state schools (7-0). Check.
Conference title all but locked up. Check.
Nation's longest winning streak. Check.
For Utah Valley University's baseball team, there is only one significant thing left to do before presenting itself to the NCAA as a possible at-large team — beat BYU.
Ah, what would be better adding BYU as a notch in the winning-streak belt?
It could happen tonight when UVU hosts BYU tonight at 6 p.m. in a game that is expected to draw a record crowd.
"Any in-state game is a big game for us. We feel like if we're ever going to climb to the level that we want to we've got to win the in-state games so this is a big deal," said UVU coach Eric Madsen. "I'm sure our guys think it's a big deal. We know BYU will think it's a big deal. It's going to be a great baseball game because we are so close. If either of us have to lose, you have to live with it for a full year."
UVU extended its winning streak to 23 games on Saturday with an 11-7 win over NJIT. The Wolverines haven't lost since March 22.
"I think it's been the same as its been all year for us, we've got to win games. Every game we play we have to win," Madsen said. "It's an awesome opportunity. It's going to be exciting, it's going to be fun. I know it's big deal to our university and to the community. We have to go out and play the game like we have all the others, we just have to find a way to win."
BYU comes into the game having dominated in the series. The Cougars beat the Wolverines 11-3 last year and are 14-6 overall against UVU.
Tonight's game should have plenty of intriguing elements. BYU plays more small ball. The Cougars have just two home runs as a team for the season,
UVU's Goose Kallunki has gone deep 12 times and as a team the Wolverines have hit 36 home runs.
BYU has five pitchers with ERA's under 4.00 including Mason Marshall, who has been the season's biggest surprise. As BYU's closer he has eight saves. In 23 innings, he's allowed just eight hits and sports a 0.39 ERA. As a team, the Cougars sport an ERA of 3.68.
UVU has three pitchers with an ERA under 4.00 including Adam Gunn, tonight's probable starter, who leads the team in ERA at 2.88 and is 7-3 on the year.
BYU comes into the game having lost five of its last six. A key factor in this game is who BYU will throw and as of Monday, the name of the starting pitcher had not been released. The Cougars are now 18-17 overall and open a crucial three-game series against WCC leader San Diego on Thursday.
“Utah Valley is playing with a great deal of confidence and has some nice wins,” BYU coach Vance Law said. “That game prepares us for a huge series with San Diego.”
The Cougars must be pitching cautious against UVU since they open up a three-game series against No. 19 San Diego, who leads the WCC conference on Thursday. At the same time, a win over UVU will helped BYU's RPI. According to Boyd's World, UVU's RPI as of Monday was 77, while BYU's was 128.
UVU also has a conference series beginning on Thursday, but the Wolverines have the luxury of a 6-game lead over UTPA.
"Everyone has conference games they have to worry about," Madsen said. "Do I think we're the best the state? I think we're playing pretty good right now. I don't know if I'd say we're the best team in the state because all three of those programs have won, they win in their conference, I think it just gives us an opportunity that we can compete in the state."