OREM, Utah – Fresh off of a series split last weekend, the Utah Valley University baseball team will welcome Grand Canyon to town for a four-game Western Athletic Conference series this weekend.
The series will run Thursday to Saturday, April 1-3, at dōTERRA Field at UCCU Ballpark. Thursday’s opener will begin at 6 p.m., while the two teams will play a Friday doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. The series will then conclude on Saturday with the finale that day at noon. The series has been moved from Thursday to Saturday this week due to the Easter holiday on Sunday.
All four games will be streamed live on the WAC Digital Network as well as on the GoUVU channel on YouTube. Live audio will also be available for all four contests at GoUVU.com, while fans can also follow live stats by visiting UVUStats.com.
UVU will enter the series with a 4-16 overall record and a 2-6 WAC clip after splitting a four-game league series at Northern Colorado last week. The Bears claimed the first two games of the series by scores of 10-0 and 8-1, before the Wolverines responded by taking the final two games on the weekend, 7-3 and 7-6, to split the series.
In the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, junior right-hander Bobby Voortmeyer had a strong start by going 5.2 innings and allowing just one run on four hits while striking out five to earn the victory. Second-year freshman Devin Smith then came on and struck out an impressive tally of eight batters over 3.0 innings of relief work, while senior Spenser Triplett came on in the ninth to earn the save. Second-year freshman Garrett Broussard led UVU offensively by going 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs, while senior Kade Poulsen drove in four runs and redshirt sophomore Jeff Arens went 1-for-2 with three walks and a run scored.
UVU carried the momentum into Sunday’s finale as the offense continued to produce with four RBIs from freshman Tavyn Lords and solo home runs from junior Mitch Moralez, senior Alexander Marco, and Arens. With the game tied at 3-3 in the early stages, Moralez and Marco hit back-to-back jacks in the third to give the Wolverines a 5-3 lead. UVU later added a run in the fourth—on Lords’ fourth RBI of day—to make it 6-3 and later added a big insurance run in the seventh on Arens’ first collegiate homer to extend UVU’s lead to 7-4 at the time.
Northern Colorado then made things interesting with two runs of its own in the last of the seventh to make it a one-run game at 7-6, but the UVU bullpen held the lead thanks to a scoreless inning from freshman Carson Brown and Triplett’s second save of the series after pitching out of a jam in the ninth. UNC got two on with nobody out in the ninth, but Triplett came on and the UVU defense managed to turn a huge 3-5-4 double play on a bunt followed by a game-ending flyout with the would-be tying run leading from second base to preserve the victory.
Lords and sophomore Mick Madsen led UVU offensively against Northern Colorado by each hitting .333, while Broussard batted .308 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs. Marco, Arens, Moralez and Brandon Luna all homered for the Wolverines against the Bears. Voortmeyer and sophomore righty Mason Gray each picked up wins for UVU in the series, while Triplett earned a pair of saves.
Moralez leads UVU on the season with a .309 batting average, nine runs scored and two stolen bases. Marco is next with a .292 clip and leads the squad in the power numbers with 10 doubles, three homers and 11 RBIs. Poulsen follows with a .246 clip, four extra-base hits and 10 RBIs. Voortmeyer currently has UVU’s best numbers from its starting rotation with a 1-3 record and 4.39 ERA. Gray is right behind him with a 1-3 mark, a 4.78 ERA and a team-high 29 strikeouts in 26.1 innings.
STARTING PITCHERS FOR THIS WEEKEND’S SERIES
Senior right-hander and preseason All-WAC honoree Jesse Schmit (1-3, 9.15 ERA) is scheduled to start Thursday’s opener for UVU against GCU righty Zach Barnes (2-4, 4.86). On Friday, the second-year freshman righty Nick Sims (1-3, 5.48) is scheduled to get the ball for Utah Valley in game one of the twin bill while the junior right-hander Voortmeyer will start in the nightcap (1-3, 4.39). Preseason All-WAC selection and RHP Pierson Ohl (2-1, 3.86) will get the ball for GCU in the first game on Friday while the southpaw Jack Schneider (0-1, 5.14) will start in game two on Friday. In the finale on Saturday, the UVU sophomore righty Gray (1-3, 4.78) is slated to start for UVU while right-hander Carter Young (3-0, 1.86) will go for the Lopes.
ABOUT GRAND CANYON
The Lopes will come to town with an 11-12-1 overall record and currently in third in the WAC standings with a 6-2 league mark. GCU first split four games against UT Rio Grande Valley to open conference play a couple of weeks ago before sweeping Seattle U the following week. Grand Canyon then stepped out of WAC play last week and claimed a non-conference series by winning two-of-three at Tulane. GCU also holds three wins on the year over Missouri, as well as a tie against Oklahoma State. The Lopes were picked in a three-way tie to win the WAC this year after tying for second in league play in 2019 with a 18-9 conference mark. GCU also went 36-24 that season as well as 9-9 during the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign.
Elijah Buries leads GCU on the season with a .397 batting average, six doubles, two homers and 19 RBIs. Tayler Aguilar is next with a .340 clip, three homers and 13 RBIs. The preseason WAC Player of the Year Juan Colato will enter the weekend batting .250 with three doubles, two home runs, 16 runs scored and 18 RBIs. Young tops GCU’s rotation with a 3-0 record, a WAC-best 1.86 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 29.0 innings. Preseason All-WAC selection Ohl is next with a 2-1 clip, 3.86 ERA and is tied for second in the WAC in strikeouts with 41 in 37.1 innings of work.
ALL-TIME SERIES VS. GCU
Thursday’s opener will mark the 19th all-time meeting between UVU and GCU. Grand Canyon will enter play holding to a 13-5 advantage and having won seven straight ballgames after sweeping the series from UVU in both 2018 and 2019. The Wolverines last win came on May 13, 2017 in a 9-2 victory at home and UVU holds a 2-7 mark against the Lopes at UCCU Ballpark.
ON DECK FOR UVU
The Wolverines will remain home to cap their five-game homestand with a midweek non-conference game against Washington State of the Pac-12 Conference on Wednesday, April 7 at 6 p.m. Following the midweek contest, UVU will hit the road to return to conference play for a four-game series at UTRGV April 9-11 in Edinburg, Texas.