Hit Parade Guides Utes to 12-9 Victory at UNLV
LAS VEGAS – Led by a career-high-tying four hits and four RBI by cleanup hitter Alex Baeza, six Utes had multi-hit performances as Utah earned a 12-9 win at UNLV's Earl E. Wilson Stadium on Tuesday afternoon. Utah is now 5-1-1 on the season, continuing on with the team's best start to a season since 1981.
Jayden Kiernan and TJ Clarkson followed Baeza in the five- and six-hole with three hits apiece, including Clarkson's first home run of the season. It marked the fifth straight game the Utes have gone yard.
Six Utes also combined for nine doubled in the triumph, tying a single-game program record. Chase Anderson, Baeza (2), Carter Booth (2), Kiernan (2), Matt Richardson and Kai Roberts each contributed to the nine doubles, which amounted to half of Utah's season-high 18 hits.
The bats came alive on both sides in the early innings, with a combined 10 runs coming across between the teams by the end of the third frame. Utah answered an early 2-0 deficit with a four-spot in the third. Baeza put the Utes on the board with an RBI double to halve the margin scoring Booth, then Kiernan followed up with his own double—this time driving in a pair with Anderson and Baeza. It gave the Utes a 3-2 lead at the time. Clarkson then knocked in Kiernan with a base hit to right field.
UNLV would plate four of its own in the bottom of the third, giving a 6-4 lead back to the Rebels.
Kiernan had another RBI in the fifth inning, helping Anderson cross the plate after he reached on an error to lead off the frame. Utah continued the momentum with a four-spot in the sixth, taking the lead for the rest of the night. Baeza singled, Kiernan doubled to left center, then Clarkson clubbed a two-run shot to bring the score to 9-6 after six.
An inning later, Roberts drove in Dakota Duffalo with a base hit, and two batters later Baeza added his second double of the night which brought in a pair.
In the bottom of the ninth the Rebels clawed their way back within three and brought the tying run to the plate, but Blake Whiting got Jordan Andrade swinging for strike three to end the ballgame.
On the mound, Dane Baker (1-0) picked up the win with 1.2 innings of work on the afternoon. Jaden Harris made his collegiate debut with 2.2 shutout innings out of the bullpen with two strikeouts.
Three players saw their first game action as Utes, including Baker, Harris and Zane Skansi.
Utah now turns its focus to a four-game series at CSU Bakersfield, which runs from Friday-Sunday, March 4-6.
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