Utah Baseball Vaults Into Top 25 After Sweeping UCLA

Apr 29, 2024, 1:32 PM | Updated: Apr 30, 2024, 11:14 am

SALT LAKE CITY— The weekend began with a rain-soaked, come-from-behind extra-inning thriller and ended with Utah’s first sweep over UCLA in Utah baseball program history.

Utah (29-13, 14-7) moved into the D1baseball.com Top 25 on Monday, April 29, after outscoring the Bruins 22-12 in the Utes sixth Pac-12 series win of 2024

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“We had to hit today, and we did it,” senior centerfielder Kai Roberts said after Sunday’s 12-7 win. “Five in the first was awesome. Every guy had great at-bats. It was just a great day to be a Ute.”

The former Skyridge Falcon was instrumental in the sweep, setting the tone with a walk-off RBI single on Friday night that scored Hunter Antillon. Already the program’s all-time steals leader, Roberts stole three bases in the series to become the all-time single-season steals leader.

Roberts went 5-13 (.385) with a double, home run, four runs scored, and six driven in. His .364 average is fifth in the conference this year.

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Before Utah’s bats exploded for three homers and seven extra-base hits on Sunday, quality pitching gave the Utes a chance.

Redshirt senior Bryson Van Sickle is in the midst of one of the best stretches of his Utah career. The lefty scattered seven hits over 7.1 innings against UCLA, keeping his team within striking distance on a cold, rainy night. The former Westlake product has gone at least six innings in his last four starts and seven of the past nine.

Van Sickle is third in the Pac-12 with a 2.62 ERA.

6’5 Randon Hostert relieved Van Sickle in the eighth and was dynamite the rest of the night. The redshirt senior out of Idaho Falls, Idaho, gave up two hits in 4.2 innings, striking out six to get the win. Hostert threw an unblemished ninth in the series finale on Sunday.

In game two, Merit Jones took the ball and showed the talent that made him the No. 1 ranked righthander and No. 2 overall player out of Idaho in 2022. Jones struck out six and allowed seven hits in a six-inning quality start.

Jones held the Bruin bats at bay long enough for Utah to find its footing with a six-run fifth.

The sweep was the first of the season for Utah, and its 14 conference wins are the program’s most since 2017. The Utes are third in the Pac-12 with a 4.71 team ERA and their 80 stolen bases are 37 more than the next closest team (USC). Roberts (28), Core Jackson (17), and Karson Bodily (11), are all in the top-five for stolen bases.

Utah (317) has scored more runs than every Pac-12 opponent but Oregon State.

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Utah travels to the Emerald City for a three-game series against the Oregon Ducks (29-14,12-9) beginning on Friday, May 3. First pitch at PK Park on Friday is at 7:05 p.m. MT.

The Utes sit atop the Pac-12 regular season standings, tied with the Arizona Wildcats at 14-7 in conference play. Utah received 11 votes in the latest USU Today Top 25.

You can find KSL Sports coverage of the Utes here.

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Utah Baseball Vaults Into Top 25 After Sweeping UCLA