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Pingin' Utes Never Quit Despite Being Swept by Stanford

Baseball head coach Bill Kinneberg says the team doesn't have the punch to get through tight games against top teams, but they're battling and never quit.

Finishing the season with two losses may not have been how the Utah baseball team envisioned finishing their 2014 season, but they couldn’t have asked for a better crowd or better day to finish things off.

The Utes capped off the year with a Sunday doubleheader against Stanford after a rainy Saturday postponed their second game with the Cardinal at Smith’s Ballpark.

In the first game, the Utes were able to keep up with Stanford through the first six innings. Kody Davis struck first with a leadoff single to get him on base, eventually scoring for the 1-0 lead. Stanford added some runs of their own in the third to take the 3-1 lead. The Utes then tied things back up in the third. The lead went back and forth in the fifth and sixth inning with Utah leading 5-4 at the end of the sixth. Stanford had an eventful seventh inning, including an in-park run off a ball that bounced off the outfield wall and were able to pull away with a four-run seventh inning.

Utah answered back with two more runs, but the Cardinal scored one more time in the ninth with a solo home run to grab the 9-7 win. Scoring was led by Davis, who was 3-for-4 and TJ Bennett, who was 2-for-4 with four RBI. Both Hunter Simmons and Biss Larsen each contributed two hits apiece.

Zach Adams was the starting pitcher and allowed four runs on six hits on the day. Tanner Banks came in for the next two innings and allowed four unearned runs on two hits. Nick Green pitched the final inning.

The afternoon game started off under sunny skies, with a sizeable crowd enjoying the holiday weekend with the final Utah baseball game of the year.

After a few scoreless innings, Larsen was able to get things going with a single to centerfield on two outs in the third inning. Davis followed with a walk. A single by Wyler Smith to put Utah on the board with a Larsen run.

The Cardinal answered right back in the fourth inning scoring three runs. A combination of one-out single and RBI double followed by a two-run home gave Stanford a lead that they would never relinquish.

The Utes showed a few flashes in the game with a double play and runner caught stealing in the sixth and set up a double play with an intentional walk in the ninth inning. Unfortunately, the Utes struggled to convert runners on eighth. Smith beat out base into runs, leaving runners on base in the last five innings.

The Utes went without another run until the eighth inning, when Smith was able to get on base on an infield single and was brought home by an RBI double to left field off of an Armijo hit. The run closed the lead to 3-2, but the Utes were unable to score again to get the final win of the season.

Dalton Carroll got the start for the Utes and pitched seven innings allowing three runs on seven hits and three strikeouts. Bret Helton came in as the close allowing one hit in the final two innings. Armijo and Smith also contributed two hits apiece.

Despite the disappointing finish, family, friends and fans flooded onto the field following the game. The Utes wrap up their 2014 campaign finishing last in the Pac-12 with a record of 16-36 overall and 4-26 in the conference. Sunday marked the end of the Ute careers for a number of student athletes, including Adams, Armijo, Banks, Bennett, Green, Cory Hunt, Tyler Yagi, Ben Mordini, Braden Anderson, Josh Chapman, and Luke West.

"It's a bittersweet day. It's been a hard year," said Utah head coach Bill Kinneberg. "You're sad for the seniors that their careers are done, then you start to look for next year and the improvements you can make."

The final two games were typical of the Utes season, where the team often lost close games, making Sunday a frustrating way to finish.

"We lost a lot of games this year, but I appreciate that this team never quit playing," said Kinneberg. "We lost by two and one against a very good club. We battled all the way through and had chances to win two games. We're still not there yet. We don't have the punch to get that done.