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Utes Fall in Doubleheader to Ducks on Saturday

Mar 19, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY- Utah softball (16-13, 1-2) was defeated in their doubleheader against the 11th-ranked Oregon Ducks (21-4, 2-1) on Saturday afternoon, dropping the first game 8-2 before giving up four runs in the seventh to lose the series finale, 7-6.

The Utes are now 1-2 in conference play and 16-13 overall on the season and marks their third time this year the Utes have gone down to the wire against a ranked opponent and came up just short by one run.

"Our team came to play this weekend and I'm proud of them. We definitely took steps forward as a group and saw what can happen if we have positive thoughts and also what happens when we don't," head coach Amy Hogue said. "We are disappointed in our performance in the seventh inning of game three and it will take a while to get over that, but we will be ready to go for Weber State next weekend."

Game 1: Oregon 8, Utah 2
After taking the first contest of this three-game set on Friday evening, the Utes looked to carry that momentum over to the middle game and elected to go with the same starting lineup as the day before, giving Shi Smith her second start against the Ducks. Smith started the game retiring the first two batters and got out of a little trouble after a bunt single and an error on the Utes that put two on the base paths. Smith issued a groundout to end the top frame of the first.

Utah went down in order in the bottom half and defensive woes showed again in the top of the second allowing a Duck to reach, but nothing was made of it.

There were a combined three errors between the teams through the firsts two innings as Julia Jimenez reached on an error by the Oregon left fielder. Jordyn Gasper picked up Utah's first hit of the game to push Jimenez to third. A strike out and fly out would follow to keep the game scoreless.

The Utes broke the deadlock in the third after Aliya Belarde singled up the middle and Haley Denning dropped a sacrifice bunt to advance Belarde. Ellessa Bonstrom drew a walk to bring up Sophie Jacquez who would then rip an RBI shot to center and bring Belarde across. Jacquez's 12th RBI of the season.

Oregon immediately responded in the fourth off a lead-off double and a pinch-hit triple to tie the game. A bunt single would bring one more across and put the Ducks on top for the first time this series, 2-1.

The Ducks would add two more in the fifth before Katie Faulk would blast her third home run of the year, a solo shot, and bring Utah within two. Oregon answered again in the sixth scoring a runner on third off a dribbler back to the pitcher, extending their lead 5-2.

A three-run pinch hit homer in the seventh by the Ducks would put the game out of reach for the Utes as they ended the game popping up, lining out and popping up for the second time.  

Smith took the loss in the circle, going 4.1 innings and giving up four runs. Sydney Sandez and Halle Morris also made an appearance to close out the game.

Game 2: Oregon 7, Utah 6
The offenses were red hot in the series finale as Utah struck early but Oregon was able to come back late and steal the victory.

Lefty Mariah Lopez got the start, making her first appearance in the series. In the first, Lopez retired the first two batters but gave up a home run as the Ducks quickly took the lead.

Utah responded with an offensive explosion as Jacquez began the two-out rally with a single up the middle. Jimenez followed Jacquez and ripped a double into the gap to tie the game at one a piece. In the ensuing at-bat, Gasper pulled a line drive into the outfield to pick up an RBI while recording her first triple of the season and giving Utah the lead, 2-1. Destiny White would follow and launch a home run to left field that hit the top of the score board and capped off a four-run first inning for Utah, giving them the 4-1 lead.

Oregon immediately responded in the second inning by hitting a home run to center field that would score two runs, closing the Utah advantage to 4-3.

Despite the momentum shift, Faulk started the inning by hitting a single up the middle to reach first and would be pinch-run for by CC Cook. After a sacrifice bunt, Denning roped a double into right field as Cook scored from second to extend Utah's lead, 5-3. Bonstrom followed and earned a four-pitch walk as Jacquez continued Utah's hot bats with a single to load the bases. Jimenez stepped up to the plate and lifted a fly ball to left field to score Denning on a sacrifice fly, adding another run in the inning for the Utes to make the score 6-3.

The middle innings were dominated by pitching and defense as Sandez replaced Lopez to start the third. Sandez would be pulled in the seventh as the Ducks scored four runs to take the lead for the first time in the game, 7-6.

In their final at bats, the Utes threatened in the last half of the seventh as Denning started the inning with a double and Bonstrom worked another four-pitch walk. However, the next three batters would be retired to end the game. 

Up Next
The Utes will be back on the diamond next Saturday and Sunday (March 26-27) for a home and away with the Weber State Wildcats. The first game will be played at Dumke Family Softball Stadium on Saturday at 3:00pm MT and game two will be played in Ogden at the Wildcat Softball Field, slated to start at 1:00pm MT.

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