College baseball is back, and the defending Pac-12 champion Utah Utes opened the season with a weekend series against Cal State Bakersfield. The Utes won the series 2-1, splitting the Saturday doubleheader before taking the Sunday finale.
Utah dropped the opening game of the series 6-5, going 2-9 with runners in scoring position and stranding 12 runners on the base paths. Dallas Carrol reached base three times, going 2-3 with a double, an RBI and a run scored. Utah got little production from the back-end of the order, with the fifth through ninth batter combining to go 4-21 at the plate with six strikeouts and three walks. Star pitcher Jayson Rose had a touch debut, giving up four earned runs on six hits in four innings pitched. Twelve of the 22 patters Rose faced reached base.
The Utes got a stellar performance from freshman relief pitcher Jacob Rebar in the second game, as he pitched four scoreless innings, including a perfect 9th to earn the win. Rebar struck out nine of the 14 batters he faced, including consecutive strikeouts to end the game. He allowed one hit and walked a batter. Corner outfielders Josh Rose and Chandler Anderson sparked the Utah offense. Rose finished the game 2-4 with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored while Anderson finished 3-3 with a run scored and an RBI. Rose gave the Utes the lead in the 5th inning, stealing home on a double steal after Zach Moeller stuck out. Ellis Kelly gave the Utes the lead for good, hitting a single with the bases loaded in the 7th inning. DaShawn Keirsey followed with another RBI single, giving the Utes a 7-5 lead. That was all they needed, as Rebar struck out two batters in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings to secure the win.
The Utes never trailed in the rubber match, taking a 6-0 lead before winning 15-3. Sunday starter Josh Lapiana recorded the win, allowing 6 hits and an earned run over 5 innings, striking out 5. The star of the game – and the series – was left fielder Anderson. He finished 3-for-6 with 3 RBIs, ending the series with 8 hits in 13 at-bats, 4 RBIs and 3 runs scored. Oliver Dunn and Carroll combined to go 7-for-12 with 4 RBIS and 5 runs scored. The Utes blew the game open in the top of the 9th inning, hitting 4 doubles and scoring 7 runs.
The Utes will hit the road again, playing a pair of games against Ohio State and Nebraska in Surprise, Arizona starting February 23. Utah will not host a baseball game until March 10, and will play 18 of the first 22 games of the season on the road.