Utah baseball: Stepping out alone, Dallas Carroll is wrapping up stellar senior year

First Published      Last Updated May 25 2017 10:22 pm

Utah baseball » Carroll has a stellar senior season without his brother at his side.

He can still see himself on the field, in a way.

As Dalton Carroll watches now from the stands, he smiles as he sees his twin, Dallas, suit up for the Utes.

This season is the first the 23-year-old brothers haven't spent on the same team since they first started playing baseball, but Dalton, who graduated from Utah last year, has found a comfort zone outside the dugout.

"Now that I've had an opportunity to be more of a fan than a teammate, it has been a little different," he said. "But it's been pretty exciting, too."

Dallas hasn't skipped a beat, either.

The remaining Carroll twin on the Utes' roster is batting a team-best .365, which is good for fourth best in the Pac-12. He's also among the conference's top 10 in on-base percentage (.461), runs (41), RBI (49), walks (32) and home runs (7) while recording another reliable season at third base with a .950 fielding percentage.

His approach at the plate is deceptively straightforward. He'll read scouting reports and tendencies, but he has one philosophy: See the ball, hit the ball.

"I just try to keep it simple, and try to find something I can hit well," he said. "I just want to stay through it and try to hit it up the middle."

That approach, coach Bill Kinneberg said, is a sign of Carroll's maturity, on which Utah (24-24, 12-15 Pac-12) has leaned heavily throughout his career. While some are trying to hit hard, or trying to hit gaps, Carroll is just trying to hit.

Often, he succeeds.

"He's just the whole package," Kinneberg said. "He understands his strengths and weakness, and he doesn't try to be someone he's not. Not many college players can do that like he does."

For years, Kinneberg counted himself lucky enough to have the package deal. Between hard-throwing Dalton and hard-hitting Dallas, the Utes were blessed with two naturally gifted brothers from Taylorsville who had flown below the recruiting radar.

It was upsetting, then, when Dallas broke his collarbone in the first game of his sophomore season. At the time, Kinneberg was furious about what he thought was a preventable injury.

The last two seasons have made Kinneberg rethink his position, as the Utes won the Pac-12 title in 2016, and are hoping for a long-shot NCAA bid this year.

"I'm glad that we got another year of him, that he was able to influence this group," he said. "Dallas is always going to be one of my favorite players I've ever coached."

There was some concern that this season would be a tough one for Carroll. While most people knew he had one brother on the team, there were others who left: Kody Davis, Cody Scaggari and his whole recruiting class who departed after the 2016 season. Many of his closest friends were gone, not to mention his brother, who was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 21st round of last year's MLB draft and went on to play rookie league ball in Danville, Va.

The jokes, Dallas could handle: The team started calling him "Gramps," even though Carroll noted that he's only the fourth-oldest player in the dugout. But there were times when he missed the companionship of some of his former teammates, particularly Dalton. Chase Bauerle now wears Dalton's old number, 24, and Dallas said he still sometimes forgets.

"Every time I saw it, it would take a second to say, 'Hey, that's not Dalton,' " he said. "But he comes to support us when he can. It's nice that he's around now."

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Dallas Carroll wraps up career

O Fourth-best batting average in the Pac-12 (.365), second-best on-base percentage (.461).

» Four-year starter at third base.

» Career .309 hitter with the Utes, with 211 hits.

Arizona State at Utah

at Smith’s Ballpark, Friday, 11:30 a.m.