Mercer Takes Opener From Utah Baseball, 6-4
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah had a 4-1 lead after five innings of play, but Mercer pushed across the final five runs of the ballgame as the Utes fell, 6-4, on Friday night in the teams' series opener at Smith's Ballpark.
Utah (13-8-1) looks to bounce back in a Saturday, March 26 game with Mercer in the middle contest of the series. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. MT at Smith's Ballpark.
TJ Clarkson had an RBI double in the first inning, which marked the 20th straight game the Clarkson has reached base safely. It marks a career-long for Clarkson and ties the longest such streak by Utah player since Oliver Dunn reached base safely in 20 straight contests during the 2018 season.
Kai Roberts (18) extended his own reached base streak with a walk. Landon Frei and Davis Cop each had a pair of hits, with Cop having a double on the night.
Utah was on the board right away in the first inning, beginning with Frei's one-out single. After a balk moved him up 90 feet into scoring position, Clarkson hit a ground-rule double that bounced over the left-center field wall to score Frei.
Mercer leveled the score at one in the top of the second, but the Utes put up a two-spot to retake the lead in the bottom half of the frame. Cop clubbed a double with one out in the inning, then came around when Matt Richardson singled to left field, aided by a Mercer error. Richardson would later score on a sacrifice fly from Frei.
Utah would add an insurance run in its half of the fifth inning, when the Utes broke up a double play opportunity for Mercer, allowing Frei to cross the plate and give the club a 4-1 lead.
But the Bears' bats came alive in the late innings, posting a three-spot in the sixth inning and one run apiece in the seventh and ninth to take a 6-4 lead.
In the eighth, trailing at that point by a 5-4 score, Utah put the tying run on third base in pinch runner Bransen Kuehl, but a strikeout ended the threat. The Utes had one more shot at equalizing in the ninth, but were retired 1-2-3.\
Starting pitcher Matthew Sox went five-plus innings and received a no decision. Sox was responsible for three runs (two earned) on six hits and three walks, striking out three. Zac McCleve (0-1) took the loss for Utah.
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