To beat a team like No. 4 Oregon State, Utah needed to play from ahead, hit with runners in scoring position and be efficient on the mound.
Instead, the Utes left nine runners on base, found themselves in a five-run deficit by the fifth inning and saw their starting pitcher, Bret Helton, labor through four innings with deep count after deep count.
With those stats, it’s not too hard to figure out Utah’s fate, which was a 5-1 loss to the Beavers on Saturday afternoon at Smith’s Ballpark. OSU received a solo home run in the second inning from former Alta High star Kavin Keyes and the game was never even again.
"We got behind on the count too much today," Utes coach Bill Kinneberg said. "Oregon State has the best 3-4-5 hitters in the league, and when you get behind against them, they will make you pay. We’re not playing well right now, but we have to do a better job of attacking and capitalizing on opportunities."
Utah will have a chance to salvage the three-game series on Sunday afternoon. But through the first two matchups, Oregon State has looked dominant and the Utes have looked like a team not ready to challenge in the upper division of the Pac-12.
On Saturday, Utah did generate offense — with two hits each from T.J. Bennett, A.J. Young and Cory Hunt. But the Utes couldn’t get runners into scoring position and couldn’t get them around the basepaths.
They received a sterling effort in relief from Zach Adams, who came on to strike out seven runners in five innings and didn’t allow an earned run.
But for all the good Utah did, Oregon State bested it with timely hits, and a good performance from Andrew Moore, who started the game for the Beavers and allowed just one run on eight hits over 6 1⁄3 innings.
"We’ve got to figure out how to score runs," Young said. "It’s disappointing because this is our opening conference series and we wanted to play well. But we’re always looking at the next game and tomorrow is another opportunity."
The Utes have scored two runs this weekend against Oregon State. They are 8-9 overall and 0-2 in league play. Sunday’s matchup is scheduled for 1 p.m.
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