With Utah Valley holding to an 8-2 advantage in the eighth, Seattle U managed to score seven runs over the final two innings to advance at the 2021 WAC Baseball Tournament on a walk-off double from Gavin Rork to claim Thursday afternoon’s elimination game by a score of 9-8.
The sixth-seeded Wolverines end their season with a 10-47 record and an 0-2 showing at the 2021 conference tournament following Thursday’s loss while the fifth-seeded Redhawks improve to 17-32 and 1-1 at the tournament with the victory.
In his final collegiate start, UVU senior right-hander Jesse Schmit was solid on the mound for the Wolverines on Thursday by allowing just one run on six hits while striking out four over 5.0 innings of action to be in line for the win when he exited the ballgame (UVU held a 6-1 lead at the time). The Wolverines later upped their lead to 8-2 after a clutch eighth-inning two-run home run off the bat of junior catcher Drew Sims. The Redhawks would go on to post a crooked number in the bottom of the eighth, however, with six runs to tie the game at 8-8 and would go on to win it in the ninth thanks to Rork’s heroics.
Early in the game, the Redhawks threatened in the first by loading the bases with nobody out, but UVU starter Schmit managed to pitch out of it by retiring the next three hitters he faced to keep the game scoreless after one.
With the game still scoreless in the third, the Wolverines managed to strike first thanks to a two-run, two-out single from senior Kade Poulsen to give UVU an early 2-0 lead. Mick Madsen started the frame by reaching on an error, Andrew Hacker followed with a single, and Garrett Broussard was later hit by a pitch to load the bases. Poulsen then delivered the big hit by pulling a single thru the left side to score both Madsen and Hacker and give Utah Valley the early two-run cushion.
The Wolverines then added to their lead with a four-run fourth to extend their early advantage to 6-0. Jeff Arens and Drew Sims started the big inning for UVU with singles and Madsen drove home the first run of the frame with a sharp RBI single up the middle to make it 3-0. Following a single from Hacker and after Mitch Moralez reached on a fielder’s choice, Broussard delivered the big hit of the frame with a two-run double down the leftfield line to bring in both Madsen and Hacker. Moralez then capped the scoring in the fourth by coming home on a wild pitch to give the Wolverines the early six-run cushion.
The Redhawks then got on the board with a run in the fifth and another in the seventh to pull within four at 6-2. Kyle Sherick started things off with a one-out triple to center in the fifth and later came in to score SU’s first run on an RBI single from Julian Kodama. Seattle U then added another run on the seventh after back-to-back-to-back hits, but the UVU defense responded later in the frame with an inning-ending double play to maintain the four-run advantage.
Utah Valley then got some insurance in the eighth thanks to the two-run home run off the bat of Sims. Arens led off the frame with a double to right and Sims followed with a two-run big fly to left for his second home run of the season to give the Wolverines the 8-2 advantage at the time.
Seattle U would go on to respond, however, by scoring six runs in the bottom of the eighth to tie the ballgame. SU quickly loading the bases with nobody out in the inning after three straight walks. The next two Redhawk batters then worked two more consecutive walks for the first two runs of the frame. After a sacrifice fly off the bat of Shane Jamison made it a three-run contest at 8-5, SU’s Connor O’Brien delivered the big blow with a three-run homer to left center to erase the deficit and tie the score at 8-8.
The Wolverines then got a one-out single in the top of the ninth from Broussard and he later moved into scoring position on a wild pitch, but he was stranded on the base paths as SU reliever Ethan Brown pitched out of it to send it to the bottom of the ninth tied.
Austin Lively then got Seattle off to a strong start in the last of the ninth with a leadoff single and pinch-runner Trevor Antonson later moved into scoring position via a wild pitch. With Antonson — who represented the winning run now standing on second and no outs — Rork drove him home with a double to left-center to win the ballgame for Seattle U.
After pitching a scoreless ninth, SU’s Brown was credited with the win to improve to 1-0 while UVU’s Nick Sims was tagged with the loss to drop to 1-8.
Four Wolverines finished with multiple-hits on the day led by a 3-for-4 outing from Broussard. Broussard also drove in two runs and recorded a double. Arens and Sims followed by each going 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs while Hacker went 2-for-3 with an RBI and an extra-base hit apiece while Hacker went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a walk.
Poulsen, a senior, also drove in two runs in his final collegiate game to give him a team-best 29 RBIs on the season while fellow senior Alexander Marco finished 0-for-5 in his final game but as one of the nation’s leaders in doubles on the year with 22 two-base hits and also led the team on the year in home runs with nine.