SALT LAKE CITY – Behind a season-high three home runs, the seventh ranked Huskies’ baseball team rallied to beat the host Utah Utes, 8-4, in the first of a three-game series Friday at Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City.
Alex Schmidt, Robert Pehl and Trevor Mitsui all went long, with Schmidt’s three-run homer in the sixth giving Washington a 6-4 lead that they would never give back. The Huskies added to their Pac-12 leading home run total and now have 21 on the season.
Washington (30-11-1, 17-5) reached 30 wins for the second time under Lindsay Meggs, but more importantly, the win kept them on top of the Pac-12 standings. The Huskies hold a one-game advantage over Oregon State, with the Beavers set to play later Friday night.
Utah (13-26, 3-16) struck first scoring a two-out run on a steal of home. Kody Davis doubled with one out and advanced to third with two outs on a wild pitch. With TJ Bennett on first after a walk, he took off for second on a delayed steal. Davis broke for home after Bennett engaged the Huskies in a rundown and was able to score when catcher Austin Rei could not handle the throw to the plate.
Washington answered right back in the top of the second inning to take the lead. After consecutive singles by Brian Wolfe and Mitsui to start the inning, Schmidt laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners. Rei capitalized on the situation by lifting a sacrifice fly to center that scored Wolfe and allowed Mitsui to advance to third. Mitsui, who has reached base safely in 37 of 38 games this season, would score on a wild pitch to make it 2-1.
The Huskies added on to their lead in the third after Erik Forgione led off with a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on a Braden Bishop sacrifice bunt. He scored to make it 3-1 when Andrew Ely laid down a perfect bunt between the pitcher and first baseman that went for a single for Ely.
Utah struck for three runs on only two hits in the fourth to take back the lead. Konnor Armijo had a RBI single to make it 3-2 and with two outs and the bases loaded Cody Scaaggari hit a ball into the hole that ricocheted off Forgione’s glove and allowed a pair of Utes to score and make it 4-3.
Schmidt gave Washington the lead back in the sixth for good with a towering three-run homer to right field. Pehl was hit by a pitch and Mitsui walked in advance of Schmidt’s two-out home run. It was his fourth dinger of the season – his first during Pac-12 play and first since March 8.
UW starter Jared Fisher left the game after Schmidt handed him the lead. Fisher lasted five innings, his shortest stint in his last six starts, but was able to pick up the win (4-3) and move his record over .500 for the first time this season. He allowed four runs – two of two of which were earned – on three hits, three walks and struck out three batters.
The bullpen was handed a 6-4 lead, but made it tough on themselves in the sixth and seventh innings by bringing the go-ahead run to the plate in both innings. But twice, Trevor Dunlap was able to escape jams without giving up any damage.
The offense gave the Dawgs some breathing room in the eighth on solo home runs by Pehl and Mitsui. Pehl’s blast to left field was his fifth of the season and Mitsui connected for his fourth – all going to right field.
Dunlap ended up pitching three innings before giving way to Troy Rallings in the ninth.
Four UW pitchers combined to allow a season-high eight walks, but only one came around to score.
Mitsui and Schmidt each had two hits to pace the Huskies’ offense.
The Huskies and Utes resume the series Saturday at 11:00 a.m. PT. UW junior Tyler Davis (9-1, 1.52) will be going for his 10th win this season. Utah will send Zach Adams (0-3, 3.35) to the hill.
#7 Washington 8, Utah 4
WASH 012 003 020 –- 8 9 1
UTAH 100 300 000 –- 4 5 1
Jared Fisher, Brandon Choate (6), Trevor Dunlap (6), Troy Rallings (9) and Austin Rei. Mitch Watrous, Bret Helton (7), Dylan Dracher (9) and Konnor Armijo. W – Fisher (4-3). L – Watrous (3-5). Sv – none. HR – UW, Alex Schmidt (4), Robert Pehl (5), Trevor Mitsui (4). 3B – none. 2B – Utah, Kody Davis. Time – 3:11. Attendance – 815.