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Offensive Explosion Pushes Utah Past Stanford in 11-2 Run Rule Victory

Apr 2, 2022

STANFORD, Calif.- After dropping the first game against Stanford yesterday evening, the Utes bounced back in a huge way posting their best offensive outing since 2019 to snap the seven game skid against the Cardinal. Four Utah batters recorded a multi-hit game as all but two who had an at bat earned a hit, totaling 17 on the afternoon. It was also the fourth time this season the Utes have scored 10 or more runs and the sixth run rule victory of the year.

This marks the most hits this season, topping the previous of 16 back on 2/19/22 against Sacramento State and the most since March of 2019 at Arizona State when the Utes put up 18 on the Sun Devils.

Offensively, the Utes were led by Haley Denning (3-for-4, 3 runs score, 1 RBI), Jordyn Gasper (3-for-4, 2 runs scored, 2 RBI) and Julia Jimenez (3-for-3, 2 runs scored, 3 RBI and 1 HR). For Denning, this was her third 3-hit game of the season and 12th of her career while Gasper posted her second 3-hit performance of the year, second of her career. As for Jimenez, she entered into new territory recording her first 3-hit performance of the season and just the second of her career.

Shi Smith started her 10th game in 14 appearances and had a strong outing, earning the win by only giving up two runs on five hits and striking out four Cardinal.  

"We played well in all areas of the game today. It was one of the best games we have had all year," head coach Amy Hogue said. "So many different players contributed, which was great to see, and it was such a great day to be a Ute!"

Final: Utes 11, Cardinal 2
The Utes wasted no time in the top of the first as Gasper dropped a hit into left field and Jimenez followed barreling up her fifth home run of the year. Ensuing batter, Sophie Jacquez, beat out a ground ball to third to keep the inning alive but Halle Morris flew out to right field to close out the inning.

Smith was given the starting nod and Stanford responded quickly drawing a walk and hitting a single through the left side. Smith fanned the following batter but gave up a double to left field, allowing a run to score. Smith bounced back to get out of the frame issuing a line out and a pop out, keeping the Utes out in front 2-1.

Kaite Faulk found her second hit of the weekend in the top of the second with a strong at bat, sending a single up the middle to put the Utes aboard. Aliya Belarde then struck out swinging but AJ Militello, who replaced Faulk as a pinch runner, stole her eighth bag of the year to put the Utes in scoring position. Hits leader, Denning, stepped into the box and poked an RBI single into shallow left-center field, scoring Militello and applied enough pressure on the Cardinal defense to entice a throwing error at second that rolled into right and allowed the speedster Denning to score, extending the Ute lead 4-1.

The Utah bats continued to be hot in the top half of the third, scoring two more runs on four hits. Bonstrom got the ball rolling with a leadoff single into left center and Jimenez dropped a great sacrifice bunt to move her over to second and a throwing error from the Cardinal allowed Bonstrom to advance to third. Jacquez followed with the third straight hit of the inning, scoring Bonstrom and collected her 17th RBI this season. Two batters later, Elicia Espinosa pinch hit for Faulk and didn't waste the opportunity, joining the hit parade with an RBI single up the middle to plate Jimenez, giving Utah the 6-1 advantage.

Moving to the top of the fourth, Utah found their 10th and 11th hit of the game as Denning slapped a double over the left fielder's head into the corner followed by a Gasper single. This allowed the two to dance around the base paths and eventually score Denning as Gasper got caught in the pickle between first and second, making the lead 7-1 after four innings.

The offensive fireworks continued in the Utah half of the fifth with true freshman Kendall Lundberg picking up a single through the middle. Her seventh hit in 14 plate appearances. Two batters later, Belarde recorded her lone hit of the game and Denning followed with a bunt single to load the bases. Gasper came up to the plate, already with two hits, and roped a shot past first for the two RBI single. Bonstrom was then hit by a pitch to crowd the bases again and Jimenez drew a walk to score Denning and earn the RBI.

Shelbi Ortiz entered the game for Jacquez and put the finishing touches on the offensive onslaught with a single to center that scored Gasper and put the Utes on top 11-2.

Smith came back out to the circle and although she walked the first batter, flied out the next and issued a game ending 6-4-3 double play to take the middle game of the series with Stanford.

Up Next
The rubber match between the Utes and Cardinal will be played tomorrow, April 3, at 3:00pm MT. The game can be seen on the Pac-12 Networks with live stats also being available.

Fans can also keep up with live game action by following @Utah_Softball on Twitter.

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For fans of the Utah softball program, follow the Utes on Twitter (@Utah_Softball), Instagram (@utahsoftball) and Facebook (@utesoftball).