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Utah, BYU to play 3-game set

Both baseball teams are off to slow starts

If the weather turns out better than the forecast, the Utah and BYU baseball teams will begin a three-game series tonight at Franklin Covey Field.

The opening game is set to begin at 6 p.m. with games also scheduled Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. If inclement weather postpones one of the first two games, a doubleheader would be played Saturday.

The Utes come into the contest 11-12 overall and 2-4 in Mountain West Conference play after winning just one game in a series against San Diego State on the road and one against New Mexico at home.

The Cougars (9-14), are also 2-4 in the MWC after winning a road game at New Mexico and a home game against UNLV last week on a one-hitter by Paul Jacinto.

"Both teams have gotten off to a slow start this year, but anytime you play a cross-town rival like this, the games intensify," said Ute coach Tim Esmay.

Utah is expected to go with Sean Overholt (0-3, 6.89), Clay Westmoreland (2-1, .5.22) and Doug Mackay (2-1, 5.68) in their pitching rotation. The probable BYU pitching rotation will be Jeff Mousser (3-2, 5.09), Jacinto (2-4, 4.15) and Ken Gravley (1-1, 6.52).

Offensively the Utes are led by catcher Wick Udy, a transfer from Oregon State, who is hitting .391, first baseman Jake Jordison, who leads the team in home runs (7) and RBIs (21) and is hitting .346, and outfielder Matt Ciaramella, who hits .329 with 15 RBIs.

The Cougars count on Ranger Wiens, who is hitting .390 with 14 stolen bases, Doug Jackson, who hits .384 and Kainoa Obrey, who hits .372 and leads the team with five homers and 29 RBIs.

"From here on out every series is big for us, but against Utah it's always bigger because of who they are," said BYU coach Vance Law. "We expect a hard-fought battle against them."

BYU was picked to finish second in the MWC, while Utah was pegged for fourth, but the two are tied for fourth, well back of co-leaders San Diego State and UNLV at 5-1.

While BYU is ahead by a large margin in the overall series between the two rivals, Utah has a 17-15 overall edge in games played at Franklin Covey Field. Last year the two schools split their season series with the Utes winning two of the three games at home.