May 8, 2012
SALT LAKE CITY - Tiffany Mills pitched a gem in Utah Valley University's regular season finale at the University of Utah on Tuesday at Ute Field as she held the Utes (27-26) scoreless until the sixth inning but the Wolverines (29-25-1) couldn't hang on to their 2-0 lead as Utah took the contest, 3-2 in eight innings.
"We were the better team today but Utah is a solid team and they responded," said UVU head coach Todd Fairbourne. "We can't just hope that our pitcher is able to keep them off the scoreboard the whole time. It is a matter of individually and collectively getting it done and finishing teams off. It bothers me that we lost this game."
Both starters, Mills for UVU and Generra Nielson for Utah, pitched very well in the early stages as they combined to strike out 11 batters through the first three innings. The two gave up just one hit into the fourth, a two-out single by Jamie North in the second inning, as the game stayed scoreless.
With two outs in the fourth UVU threatened as Krystin Jachim delivered a solid double off of the fence to left-center. Jachim then advanced to third base on a wild pitch but Nielson got out of the jam by striking out Amanda Perez to end the threat.
UVU got things going again in the fifth, as North reached on an error and Deianna Russell followed with an infield single to put two on with nobody out. Three hitters later Brinkerhoff came through with a sharp RBI single through the ride side of the infield that scored pinch-runner Kelli Fox to give the Wolverines a 1-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Mills kept pitching well for the Wolverines as took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Utah's Marisa Mendenhall managed to break it up that inning with a leadoff single up the middle. The hit was all the offense the Utes would get in the frame though as Mills pitched out of the jam.
Jachim then extended the Wolverines lead in the sixth by smashing a two-out home run to left to give UVU a 2-0 lead.
Kelsi Hoopiiaina then broke up Mills' shutout in the bottom of the sixth as she delivered a leadoff homer to make it a 2-1 game. The next two Ute hitters then also reached and Utah managed to manufacture the tying run after back-to-back groundouts to the right side of the infield to make it a 2-2 contest.
Nielson and Mills both remained in the circle for the seventh and each retired the side in order as the game headed for extras.
In the last of the eighth, Utah threatened after it got a leadoff single from Hoopiiaina. Two batters later Kayelyn Elliott ended it as she came through with a hard hit single near the line in right. The ball then ricocheted off of Amanda Robinson, which allowed Hoopiiaina to score the winning run for Utah all the way from first.
Nielson picked up her 20th win of the season for the Utes as she improved to 20-16 while Mills was the tough-luck loser and dropped to 16-16. Mills allowed just four hits, one earned run (three total) and struck out seven, while Nielson gave up five hits, one earned run (two total) and struck out 12.
Jachim led UVU offensively by going 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Utah was led by Hoopiiaina, who finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI.
The meeting between the Wolverines and Utes was the lone contest between the two schools on the season. UVU finished the season with a 4-8 record against in-state opponents.
The Wolverines will conclude the 2012 season by heading to the Great West Conference Tournament in Farmers Branch, Texas on May 13-14. Top-seeded UVU will open the tournament by taking on No. 4 North Dakota Sunday at 10 a.m. CT/9 a.m. MT.