Utes Drop Double-Header at Home
SALT LAKE CITY- Utah softball was downed in their home opening double-header against Wisconsin on Tuesday, falling to the Badgers 4-3 in the first game before losing the second in a five-inning run rule, 9-1.
The Utes have dropped their last four games and move to 15-10 on the season. Utah will look to get back into the win column tomorrow at 12:00pm MT in the closing contest of this three-game set against the Badgers.
Game 1: Utes 3, Wisconsin 4
It was a slow offensive start for both teams as each crossed just one run through the first five innings of the game. Utah's leader in the circle, Sydney Sandez, was given the ball and retired the Badgers in order striking out two.
Ellessa Bonstrom found the first hit of the game, but was unable to be advanced after the ensuing batter grounded out softly back to the pitcher for the final out of the inning. The Badgers drove a leadoff double to the right center gap and moved the runner over to third off a ground out. The following batter hit a sacrifice fly to center to score first and give Wisconsin the 1-0 advantage.
The Utes responded after a quick top of the third where Sandez earned her third strike out and issued a line out and fly out in the frame. With the top of the lineup coming up to the plate, Aliya Belarde reached first on a miscue by the Badger defense. Bonstrom then doubled to the right center wall to drive in Belarde and tie the ball game up.
Utah threatened again in the fourth after Jordyn Gasper hit the second double of the day and advanced to third off a ground out to the right side. But the Utes would leave their fourth runner on as Faulk grounded to third for the third out.
Bonstrom got the sixth started hitting her second double to put Utah in scoring position early in the inning. Sophie Jacquez moved her to third singling to left and put Utes on first and third. AJ Militello entered the game for Jacquez as a pinch runner and stole her sixth bag of the season. Gasper then drew a walk to load them up and Halle Morris gave Utah the 2-1 lead off a soft hit between the pitcher and catcher for the single.
Utah could only get one run across in the inning after a fielder's choice got the lead runner out at home and the following batter struck out swinging to get the Badgers out of the late game jam.
In the last inning, a Utah error allowed a leadoff base runner and a walk then put Badgers on first and second with no outs. Two batters later, a single through the left side would score a run to tie it up and keep runners on first and second. A triple to right field would open the game up for Wisconsin scoring two and extending the lead 4-2.
Haley Denning gave some life to the Utes leading off with a bunt single. Belarde then grounded into a fielder's choice and put the Utes in scoring position stealing second. Batting in the clean-up spot was Julia Jimenez who collected her first hit to score Belarde and bring Utah within one. Wisconsin survived the threat and jammed Jacquez back to the pitcher for the final out.
Sandez finished with five K's, giving up four runs on four hits in seven innings of work. Bonstrom led the Utes at the plate going 3-4, scoring a run and driving in one run.
Game 2: Utes 1, Wisconsin 9
Wisconsin's offense picked up where it left off in the late innings of Game 1 as the Utes offense went cold.
Wisconsin scored four runs in the first inning on only two hits as the defensive woes for the Utes (a passed ball and an error) contributed to the big inning. Bonstrom and Jimenez singled with two outs in the bottom of the first but both runners were left stranded. In the first and second innings, Katie Faulk threw out the Pac-12 leading fifth and sixth runners caught stealing of the season.
Lefty Mariah Lopez started for Utah but was replaced by Halle Morris after only one inning of work, giving up three earned runs and two hits while facing seven batters. Morris would also have a difficult time cooling off the Badger bats as they crossed three runs in the third inning to extend their lead to 7-0.
In the bottom of the third with two outs, Bonstrom laid down a perfect bunt to pick up her second hit of the game but wouldn't advance after a ground out to second base in the ensuing at-bat.
Sophie Jacquez led off the bottom of the fourth inning getting hit by a pitch, hoping to spark a Utah rally. The next two batters would ground into a fielder's choice and fly out but Faulk kept the inning alive with a walk. The opportunity fell short after a long at-bat that resulted in a strikeout.
The Wisconsin offense struck again in the fifth inning, scoring two more runs. In the bottom half of the inning, Denning drew a walk and advanced to second on a passed ball. In a battle, Bonstrom racked up her third hit of the game on the ninth pitch of the at-bat by shooting a groundball through the left side, moving Denning to third and advancing to second on the throw. Scoring the first run for Utah was Jimenez who grounded out to second and to collect her 25th RBI of the season. The next Ute grounded out, ending the game in a five-inning run rule effort.