Who would have thought just a couple of years ago that the Utah baseball team would be in position to win the Pac-12 Championship. After some pretty tough seasons, the Utes are on the verge of doing just that. To think they could be the first men's team to win a Pac-12 title is impressive. Sure, both the football team and basketball teams have been close, but the baseball team legitimately controls the Pac-12 Championship.
The Utes are going into the final series of the season against the Washington Huskies, the 2nd place team in the Pac-12. It's a three game series, and all the Utes have to do is win one game to clinch a share of the conference title. If they win two of the three, they win the title outright, and the leagues outbid into the NCAA Championships.
Bill Kinneberg has done one heck of a job with this program, and has some series challenges with the program. Namely, they can't really play a home game the first month of the season, because Utah's weather in February isn't that great. Slowly but surely though, he's been building a nice program up there. Even though the team is below .500 on the season, to win the Pac-12 Championship would be one heck of an accomplishment, and something to help vault the program forward.
Here's the official press release from the U breaking down things a little more:
SALT LAKE CITY - The Utah baseball team enters the final weekend of the regular season with an opportunity to win its first Pac-12 Championship in a three-game series against Washington beginning at noon on Friday, May 27.
The series continues on Saturday, May 28 and Sunday, May 29, with both games at noon. All three games will be aired on the Pac-12 Network with commentary from Thad Anderson and Dean Stotz.
The Utes will have a brief presentation on Saturday to honor seniors Dalton Carroll, Kody Davis, Kellen Marruffo, Cody Scaggari, Nolan Stouder and AJ Young.
Utah holds a one-game lead over Washington in the Pac-12 standings. The Utes need to win two out of three games against Washington to win the outright Pac-12 Championship and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. Utah would still win a share of the league title by winning at least one game over Washington.
Utah (23-26, 17-10 Pac-12) has won seven of its last nine games. The Utes recently won two out of three against California, rallying from a one-run deficit in the top of the ninth inning for the 6-5 win. Utah has Pac-12 series wins over Oregon, Arizona State, Arizona, UCLA, Washington State, Stanford and California.
Utah had previously had won just seven conference games in a year since joining the league in 2012 and had won just three Pac-12 series total in its first four years.
The Utes rank sixth in the league with a .275 batting average and are second overall in Pac-12 games with a .279 average. Utah is also sixth in the Pac-12 in on-base percentage (.367) which increases to .373 in Pac-12 games (second overall). Dallas Carroll ranks seventh in the Pac-12 with a .445 on-base percentage and is also seventh with a .445 on-base percentage. DaShawn Keirsey, Jr. is tied for third in the league with 11 stolen bases and the Utes are fifth overall as a team with 54 stolen bases. Utah has scored 147 runs in league play, which is first in conference games.
Utah has also been strong on defense with 47 double plays, which is second overall.
On the mound, Jayson Rose leads the league with 96 strikeouts and is nearing the school record of 102 strikeouts. He is fourth in the Pac-12 in earned run average (2.46) and is holding opponents to a .205 batting average, which ranks sixth in the league. Rose's eight wins is tied for third in the league. The Utes are tied for the league lead with 14 pickoffs with Josh Lapiana recording a Pac-12 high six picks. Dylan Drachler is tied for fifth in the league with eight saves. Pitchers have allowed just 20 home runs, which is tied for the second-fewest allowed.
Washington is 31-19 on the year and 16-11 in the Pac-12. The Huskies won two of three against Stanford last weekend and also have conference series wins against Arizona, Oregon, Arizona State, UCLA, California and USC.