The Utah Valley University baseball team held on to defeat Portland by a score of 6-4 in game two of the 2016 home-opening series on Friday night at Brent Brown Ballpark.
"We found a way to win tonight. It obviously wasn't the cleanest game, but I was proud of the guys for being able to find a way to get the job done," head coach Eric Madsen said. "Overall we probably struck out a few too many times. But we had just enough key two-out hits to be able to come away with the win."
Paul Estrada led the Wolverines (8-8) offensively in the game by going 2-for-3 with two runs batted in, a run scored and a walk, while Mark Krueger, Spencer Gothberg and Trevor Howell added two hits apiece for UVU en route to the victory.
With the game still scoreless in the fourth, the Wolverines managed to tally five runs on five hits to take a 5-0 lead. Following an inning-opening error, Gothberg drove Zac Willis all the way around from first with an RBI double to right-center to give UVU a 1-0 advantage. After a Craig Brinkerhoff single, Estrada then delivered an RBI single to left, and Ryne Edmondson followed with an RBI groundout. Howell then drove home the fourth run of the frame with an RBI double down the left field line, and UVU later plated its fifth run on another UP miscue.
The Pilots then wasted no time cutting into the deficit by answering back with three runs of their own in the fifth to make it a 5-3 game. Geoffrey Lee delivered the big hit for UP in the inning with a two-run single, while Caleb Whalen added an RBI double to pull the Pilots to within two. UVU then immediately countered back with a run in the bottom of the fifth to make it 6-3. Estrada came through with his second RBI hit of the ballgame this time, as he plated Brinkerhoff with a clutch two-out single to right to make it 6-3.
Portland wouldn't go away from there, as Brian Pozos drove in a run for UP in the eighth to make it 6-4, but a pickoff and a strikeout helped UVU reliever Greg McCuch get out of the jam with Utah Valley still holding to a two-run cushion.
With the two on and two out in the ninth, UVU left-hander Marco Briones then helped preserve the victory for the Wolverines by popping up Portland's Cooper Hummel for the final out of the ballgame to earn his first collegiate save.
Patrick Wolfe (1-0) picked up the victory for the Wolverines after giving up just three runs on four hits in five innings of work, while UP starter Davis Tominaga (2-2) was tagged with the loss after allowing six runs (two earned).
The four-game home-opening series for Utah Valley continues on Saturday with game three at 6 p.m. MT, from Brent Brown Ballpark. Right-hander Kyle Valgardson is slated to start for the Wolverines, while lefty Jordan Horak will take the mound for the Pilots. The non-conference series then concludes on Sunday at noon MT.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.