CEDAR CITY, Utah –March 24, Southern Utah came out on top of both games of its doubleheader with Chicago State on Saturday to complete a three-game series sweep of the visiting Cougars. The Thunderbirds held off a late rally in the day’s first game to hold on for an 8-7 victory and then pulled away for a 9-2 win in the finale for their third straight triumph.
After giving up an early run in the front end of the doubleheader, Southern Utah came back to level the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the second frame on a ground out RBI from David Ricker. The Thunderbirds then used four runs in the fourth inning to go ahead 5-1. Tyson Weber and Bo Cuthbertson both drove in runs for SUU before Marcus Romero hit a ball to the right side where it was misplayed by the second baseman allowing two more runs to score.
The Cougars came back with four runs during the fifth and sixth innings to tie the score at five runs apiece. Then after an RBI double from Cuthbertson put the Thunderbirds back out in front in the bottom of the sixth, Chicago State scored two more in the seventh to go up 7-6. The visitors wouldn’t hold the lead for long however as Chaisson Low drove a ball through the right side to score Mitchell Kauweloa from third and tie the game at seven.
The score remained at seven all when SUU came to bat in the bottom of the ninth. The leadoff batter Low reached on an error to start the inning and was then replaced by pinch runner Ronnie Burton Jr. Burton then moved into scoring position on a ground out from Taggart Lunceford. After a pop fly registered the second out of the inning Brad Royer stepped the to the plate for Southern Utah. The Thunderbird outfielder hit a ball to deep center where the Cougar fielder chased it back and made a diving attempt at a catch, but the ball bounced off his glove and into the grass allowing SUU to plate the winning run and claim the 8-7 walk-off victory.
The second game of the day wasn’t quite as close as the Thunderbirds opened the first inning with an RBI single from Marcus Romero and a two-run RBI triple off the bat of Justin Neuhart who later scored on a wild pitch to make the score 4-0 in favor of SUU.
Southern Utah held onto the 4-0 advantage over the first five innings as starting pitcher Chase Rezac worked through the Chicago State order. In total the junior right hander faced 33 batters over eight innings and allowed just one earned run it the sixth while striking out a career-high nine batters and surrendering just one walk.
The Thunderbirds added another run in the seventh and then tacked on four more in the eighth as both Kevin Kline and Jordan Zymola drove in a pair of runs for the home team. The Cougars were then able to get one back in the last inning to set the final score 9-2.
Southern Utah spread out the scoring in the games as nine different Thunderbirds drove in at least one run. Senior outfielder Marcus Romero had three hits on the day to lead the team with three RBI. SUU shortstop Bo Cuthbertson was 3-for-7 at the plate to up his average to a team-high .338 for the season.
Junior pitcher Kelsey Outram pitched just under three shutout innings of relief in the first game to pick up his first win of the year and improve to 1-4 on the year while Rezac won the second to go to 2-3.
“We’ve always known that Rezac is capable, he is the hardest thrower on the team,” said SUU head coach David Eldredge. “A few of our bats our coming around and its contagious. Our guys are feeling more relaxed and finding ways to win.”
SUU improves its record to 6-16 with the sweep while Chicago State is left searching for its first win of the season and is now 0-18.
The Thunderbirds will be back on the road next week for a Tuesday meeting with the UNLV Rebels at 5 p.m. (MT) and then round out the weekend with a three-game series at Utah Valley.