An error allowed the Huskies to tie the score, and the next batter, Willie MacIver hit a long home run to key a 4-1 win over the Utes on Sunday and complete a series at Husky Ballpark.
Through six innings, Washington was unable to figure anything out against Utah pitcher Josh Lapiana.
That all changed in the seventh.
An error allowed the Huskies to tie the score, and the next batter, Willie MacIver, hit a long home run to key a 4-1 win over the Utes on Sunday and complete a series sweep at Husky Ballpark.
Washington improved to 12-6 and 3-0 in the Pac-12. Utah fell to 9-8 and 0-3. It was the first time Washington has opened conference play with a sweep since doing it against Washington State in Pullman in 2007.
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Lapiana had his way with Washington’s offense in the early going, allowing just two hits and one walk through six innings.
But it all unraveled in the seventh when Washington right fielder M.J. Hubbs led off with a solid single to left. Washington coach Lindsay Meggs had cleanup hitter Joey Morgan sacrifice Hubbs to second. An infield pop-up by Nick Kahle left it up to pinch-hitter Josh Cushing to bring home the tying run.
For a moment, it appeared Lapiana would escape when Cushing hit a sharp grounder to third baseman Dallas Carroll, but a momentary bobble allowed Cushing to just beat the throw to first, scoring the tying run.
Up came MacIver, who capitalized on a 2-0 pitch, crushing a no-doubt opposite-field home run over the right-field wall — the first of his college career — to make it 3-1.
“I was kind of sitting on that changeup, and my goal was to just stay back on it and he threw one up and I got a good swing on it,” MacIver said. “It was awesome, especially in a situation like that to put us ahead of a team we really don’t like.”
Washington’s pitching staff scrapped and battled, escaping numerous jams against a strong Utah lineup. The Utes’ lone run came on a solo home run by Carroll in the fourth inning. Utah sent seven men to the plate in that inning, but Husky starter Joe DeMers struck out Utah catcher Alex Isola to escape further trouble.
“He didn’t have his best stuff, but he pitched backwards and made pitches when he needed to and kept us in the game,” Meggs said.
DeMers, who got out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning, threw 102 pitches (55 strikes) in six innings, allowing six hits and four walks. He struck out six.
“My ball was running a little more than usual today, so I had to adjust and really just battle, not give into any hitters,” DeMers said.
Alex Hardy pitched the final 21/3 innings to notch his fifth win of the season. He lowered his earned-run average to 0.96.
Washington relievers went 3-0 and threw 18 scoreless innings during the series.