SAN JOSE, Calif. — Behind a stellar outing on the day from sophomore Mason Gray, Utah Valley University head baseball coach Eric Madsen recorded his 300th career victory in a 1-0 shutout over San José State in the series finale on Sunday afternoon at Excite Ballpark.
The right-hander Gray was dominant on the mound for UVU on the day by going 8.2 innings en route to leading the Wolverines to the shutout. Gray struck out four and allowed just five hits as he baffled SJSU’s batters all game long. The Spartans had their best chance to score in the ninth when they loaded the bases with two outs, but UVU closer Pedro Perdomo came in and shut the door on SJSU by drawing a game-ending groundout off the bat of Johnny Mendoza to seal the victory.
With the win, UVU splits the four-game nonconference series and improves to 3-9 on the season. The Mountain West Spartans fall to 5-7 on the year with the setback.
In his 12th season at the helm of Utah Valley, Madsen now holds an NCAA Division I career record of 300-327 (all at Utah Valley). During his tenure at UVU, Madsen has led his Wolverines to three Great West Conference regular season and tournament championships as well as the program’s first NCAA Regional berth (2016 Baton Rouge Regional) after winning the WAC Tournament in 2016. He has also led his club to a pair of 40-win seasons, which included an improbable 32-game winning streak in 2012 and a program-record 47 wins that year (47-12).
“We’ve had a lot of great coaches and great players over the years that have truly been key contributors in all of these wins. David (Carter) has been here right by my side since day one and I can’t say enough about him and what he does for this program. I couldn’t have gotten here without him,” Madsen said. “Overall, it feels good to get the win and now we need to keep things going as we head back to Utah to take on BYU on Tuesday.”
Gray had a career day by going a career-best 8.2 innings of work while striking out four and giving up just five hits on the day. After allowing a single in the first, Gray responded by retiring the side in order in each of the second, third, fourth and fifth innings. He didn’t give up another hit until a single with two outs in the sixth. The Spartans then got an infield hit off of him in the seventh and two more hits in the ninth, but Perdomo came on to earn his first save in a Utah Valley uniform to help preserve the win for the Wolverines.
“Mason was just terrific for us. Anytime you can have someone step up and pitch a shutout like that, it’s just awesome,” Madsen added. “He was able to pitch out of a few jams and was just outstanding for us all game long. We’re glad we were able to split this series, but we need to keep improving and get our offense going.”
Scoreless in the third, UVU was the first to get on the scoreboard with a run in the top of the third to take a 1-0 lead. Garrett Broussard started the frame by taking one for the team and Mitch Moralez followed with a one-out single to put runners on first and second. Senior Kade Poulsen then drove home what proved to be the only run of the game with an RBI single to left to drive in Broussard and give the Wolverines the early lead.
With both sides putting up zeros on the board from there, UVU then threatened in the top of the eighth by getting two on with nobody out. Moralez started the rally with a leadoff walk and Poulsen promptly followed with his third hit of the game — a single to right — to put runners on first and second. After a popout, UVU then got a baserunner picked off for the second out and Mick Madsen followed by grounding out to end the threat.
After allowing a baserunner to get to third in the seventh, Gray responded by pitching around an error in the eighth to keep it a 1-0 game heading to the ninth. The Spartans then got a pair of singles off of Gray in the ninth to put two on with two out. But Perdomo came on and after issuing a walk to load the bases, he responded nicely by drawing the game-ending groundout to preserve the win for the Wolverines.
Poulsen led UVU offensively in the game by going 3-for-4 with the lone RBI of the game, while Alexander Marco went 2-for-4 with a double. Moralez, Jeff Arens and Andrew Hacker also recorded hits on the day for the Wolverines. Reece Hernandez paced SJSU by going 2-for-4 in the game.
The win marked Gray’s (1-0) first of the season, as well as Perdomo’s first save in a UVU uniform. Four different hurlers pitched well for the Spartans, but SJSU starter Anders Davidson was tagged with the loss after surrendering the lone run of the game to drop to 0-1 on the year.
The Wolverines will now return to the state of Utah for a midweek matchup against crosstown rival BYU on Tuesday at Larry H. Miller Field in Provo.
Following Tuesday’s contest, UVU will head to Seattle for a four-game nonconference series at Pac-12 foe Washington on Friday through Sunday. The home-opening midweek set is then scheduled for March 10-11 against Air Force at the new doTERRA Field at UCCU Ballpark.