ABILENE – After only putting one runner on base through the middle seven innings, Abilene Christian baseball started its final at-bat with a walk, hit and error leading up to Hunter Gieser’s sac fly to right that gave the Wildcats a 3-2 win over the WACs Utah Valley Opening Day at Crutcher Scott Field.
Reliever Tanner Parker had largely silenced the Wildcat offense through the seventh and eighth innings but issued a six-pitch walk to Colton Eager followed by Joseph Craig’s high chopper to third base. Eric Wimpee then dropped a sacrifice bunt in front of the plate, and reached safely after Parker’s throw to first bounced away from Pacen Hayes.
Gieser saw three pitches from reliever Devin Smith. He took the first pitch, fouled off the second, and drove the third deep enough to right field to plate Eager, who played a role in all three Wildcat runs.
Eager singled in his first plate appearance to score Cameron Cromer from second base in the first inning, and scored two batters later on Wimpee’s double to the left-center gap.
ACU maintained that 2-0 lead until the seventh when the Wolverines scored twice thanks to back-to-back doubles to start the frame. Hayes cut ACU’s lead to 2-1 after scoring on Garrett Broussard’s two-bagger to the right-field corner, and with two outs, Seth Watts misplayed a ball along the third-base line that allowed Broussard to pop up and score.
UVU went on to load the bases after Tanner Riley walked and hit a batter, but he bounced back to close the frame with a swinging strikeout of cleanup batter Drew Sims.
Riley earned the victory in relief, striking out four in 2.1 innings.
Austin Wagner started for ACU and whiffed seven in five innings and Trevor Jackson followed with a pair of Ks in 1.2 innings of work.
The Wildcats and Wolverines continue their series Saturday with a 1 p.m. doubleheader