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Utah baseball begins long homestand against BYU

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah baseball team begins a 11-game homestand on Tuesday against in-state rival BYU at 7 p.m. MT (Pac-12 Networks).

Tuesday’s game is the first of three between the two schools this season, which include a game in Provo on April 21 and a return to Salt Lake City on May 12. The three games account for three total points in the Deseret First Duel rivalry series between Utah and BYU. Utah has already clinched this year’s overall title, leading 20-6.

“No doubt that it’s a big game for both teams,” Utah head coach Bill Kinneberg said. “Traditionally they have been one-run ball games, and often feature ninth-inning comebacks, and I don’t expect anything different.

"Our guys will be ready to play and I’m sure that BYU will be ready as well. They are in conference also, so this is another Tuesday ball game that your pitching staff has to survive. You dice [the pitching] up and mix it up so that you are ready for the weekend, but on the flip side, it is a rivalry game and it is big for both schools. I expect us to play as hard as we do on the weekends.”

The Utes (7-15, 2-3 Pac-12) are looking to bounce back after suffering a sweep at the hands of ninth-ranked UCLA last weekend.

BYU is 11-12 on the year and 4-2 in the West Coast Conference. The Cougars have won nine of their last 11 games after starting the season 2-9.

Fans in attendance will receive a Utah baseball schedule magnet.

Utah’s upcoming homestand features ranked Pac-12 opponents California and Arizona State, along with Southeastern Louisiana out of the Southland Conference.

“It was a great feeling flying back in and knowing that we are going to be home for the next three weekends, the fact that we don’t have to get on a plane and can sleep in our own beds and play on our own field,” Kinneberg said. “I know I’m excited and I’m sure the players are too. That’s a great feeling for us.

"We have to establish our home-field advantage now and learn how to play as a home team and how to play at our field. We have some big challenges ahead. We have a really good Cal team coming in and then a very good Arizona State team coming in, so we have our hands full. Southeast Louisiana is a quality program as well. We’re going to have to really play well the next three weekends to be successful, but no doubt that we’re looking forward to it.”