Utah Valley University baseball banged out 18 hits and scored 14 runs en route to earning a 14-4 run-rule walk-off victory over Sacramento State on Sunday afternoon to take a key WAC series over the Hornets at UCCU Ballpark.
All nine Wolverines (13-36, 9-15 WAC) recorded a hit on the day and seven of the nine drove in runs on their way to helping UVU take its final home series of the season. Senior Trevor Howell led UVU by going 4-for-5 with two home runs and four runs scored, while fellow seniors Ryan Eastburn and Michael Beltran too recorded multi-hit outings on Utah Valley’s senior weekend.
Senior right-hander Walker Ramsey gave the Wolverines a quality start to earn his first win of the season by allowing just three runs on five hits over 5.0 innings of work. He also struck out one and gave up just one run into the fifth inning. Fellow senior Kohl Hostert and junior Travis Parker too pitched a solid inning apiece of relief on the day, as UVU limited the Hornets (31-20, 16-8 WAC) to just four runs on six hits in the ballgame.
“It was a great day for our team. They truly earned this victory as well as the series,” head UVU coach Eric Madsen said. “Walker did a nice job of pitching out of some tough situations and our offense came out and delivered for us early. We really kept the pressure on Sacramento State the whole game. It was a great effort and I’m very happy for our team.”
With UVU holding to a 12-4 advantage in the last of the seventh, Howell started the rally with his second homer of the game by blasting one out to deep left to make it a 13-4 score. Following a double from Beltran and a walk from Eastburn, Alexander Marco then sealed the victory for the Wolverines with an RBI single into left to plate Beltran and propel UVU to the walk-off run-rule victory.
A total of five Wolverines recorded multiple hits in on the day, as Eastburn went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored, Mick Madsen posted a 3-for-4 outing with three runs scored and a run batted in, Beltran followed with a 2-for-5 performance with a pair of runs scored, and Marco added a 2-for-5 outing that included the game-winning hit.
The Utah Valley offense got off to a quick start on the day by driving in four runs on five hits in the bottom of the first to jump out to an early 4-0 lead. After back-to-back hits from Howell and Beltran, Eastburn drove them both home with a two-run single to center to make it 2-0. Later with runners on first and second and one away, Kade Poulsen delivered a two-run double to left to drive in Eastburn and Madsen and extend UVU’s lead to 4-0.
The Wolverines then made it 5-0 in the second thanks to a one-out solo home run to left from senior Trevor Howell.
The Hornets then got a run back in the third to make it 5-1, but UVU responded with three more runs of its own in the bottom of the frame to take an 8-1 lead. In his first start of the season, catcher Skyler Davis started the scoring with an RBI single to left to drive home Madsen. With two on and one away, senior Paul Estrada followed with a two-run double to right-center to make it 8-1.
The Wolverines then tacked on three more runs in the fourth to take an 11-1 advantage. Madsen and Davis both had RBIs in the frame for UVU.
After Sac State scored a pair of runs in the top of the fifth, Utah Valley responded with a two-out RBI single from the senior Eastburn in the last of the inning to extend UVU’s lead to 12-3.
Sac State’s Brady Rodriguez suffered the defeat on the mound to drop to 6-5 on the year. Keith Torres paced the Hornet offense with a 2-for-3 outing. The Hornets had entered the series in a three-way tie for first in the WAC standings before losing two of three to UVU.
By taking the series, the Wolverines move two games ahead of Seattle U for the sixth and final spot for the WAC Baseball Tournament with three conference games remaining.
The Wolverines will now step out of conference play for their final home game of the 2019 season when they welcome Pac-12 foe Washington State to town on Tuesday, May 14 at UCCU Ballpark. UVU’s home finale will take place at 6 p.m. Utah Valley will then close its 2019 regular season with a big three-game series at UT Rio Grande Valley next weekend (May 16-18) with a berth to the WAC Baseball Tournament on the line.
“I hope this series will give our guys some confidence moving forward because Sac State is a really good team,” Madsen added. “Our guys should be proud of themselves and hopefully we can take the momentum into next week and clinch a spot in the WAC Tournament.”