Redhawks Open Up Conference Play with a Win for the Priz But Lose Another Series!

Photo courtesy of John Shaffer

Seattle University returned home on Friday night looking to end their 9-game losing streak. Their opponent was the Utah Valley Wolverines who were coming in with a 3-18 record. Both teams were opening conference play in the Western Athletic Conference. For both teams this was a fresh start because it was conference games, games that mean something come conference tournament in May. Jake Prizina took the mound on Friday night, looking for his third win of the season and hoping to end the Redhawk’s losing streak. If the Redhawks wanted a win, Jake was their man and he didn’t disappoint.

Priz would pitch another phenomenal performance. He would last 6 1/3 inning allowing 3 runs (2 earned) striking out 5 and walking 1 while giving up 6 hits. Jake threw a whopping 113 pitches with 71 strikes. On a cold and wet evening at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue, Jake would pitch perhaps his finest game of the season lowering his era to a 1.56!

After an early cheap run by the Wolverines, the Redhawks would plate six runs in the bottom of the 3rd inning to go up 6-1. After back-to-back-back doubles by Sherick, Mazzone and O’Brien, the Redhawks would go up 2-1. Austin Lively would later drive in one run and 1b Michael Ciancio would belt a 3-run home run. Finally, a big inning by the Redhawks and some run support for the Priz!! Jacob Prater and Justin Mazzone would belt solo home-runs to increase their lead to 8-3. The bullpen would come in late in the game and pitch a shaky 2 2/3 innings but in the end Seattle University came out on top 8-5 to open conference play with a win and best of all no more losing streak.

Players of the game were the following: Jake Prizina, Justin Mazzone (3 hits), Austin Lively and Michael Ciancio (with 2 hits) and Connor O’Brien who made several defensive plays in the field at SS. A special shout out goes to Michael Ciancio, who made perhaps the defensive gem of the ballgame. One more player of game goes to catcher Kyler Murphy. He caught an amazing game behind the plate. Jake was amazing but Kyler’s glovework was the perhaps the finest performance for the college catcher that I’ve seen. Nice job Kyler Murphy!!

Game two was Saturday afternoon. The Redhawks were looking to make it two in a row over the Wolverines and hoping to prove that Friday nights offensive performance wasn’t a fluke. Pitcher Tyler Yeh took the mound, hoping to overcome his last start. Utah Valley would score two runs over the first eight innings to take a 2-0 lead into the ninth, once again the Redhawks offense took the day off it was looking like. It certainly wasn’t like Friday’s offense. Tyler Yeh would last only 3 2/3 innings walking 4 batters and allowing 2 hits, but he also threw 69 pitches. The bullpen would go through the final 5 1/3 innings, walking 7 more Wolverines for a total of 11 batters. Utah Valley would only secure 5 hits in the ballgame but when you get walked 11 times in a ballgame, sometimes hits are hard to come by.

Utah Valley lead 2-0 going into the 9th inning. Seattle University’s bullpen would allow two more runs to go up 4-0. Things weren’t looking good going into the bottom of the ninth for the Redhawks, but after one out the dormant offense seemed to wake up. Would it be enough? Jake Taylor would secure a pinch-hit 2-run single to cut the lead to 4-2. After loading the bases again, the Redhawks would bow down to the Wolverines by hitting into a double play and losing the ballgame 4-2.

Stars of the game were Austin Lively with 3 hits and Chase Wells with 2 hits, not a lot of bright spots in the low scoring battle between both ball clubs.

With the series tied 1-1 the Redhawks were looking to take game 3 on Sunday against Utah Valley. Starter Jarrod Billig would start on the mound for the Redhawks and he wouldn’t make it out of the 4th inning allowing 2 runs on 76 pitches. Austin Lively would belt his 3rd home-run of the season to take a 1-0 early lead for Seattle University that would not last long. Utah Valley would plate two runs in the 3rd inning to go up 2-1. The game would stay 2-1 until inning eight where Utah Valley would put the game out reach. The Wolverines would plate 4 runs to go up 6-1. In the 9th inning the Redhawks would stage a rally of their own scoring 4 runs on 5 hits, but it was too little too late. Utah Valley would take the series 2 games to 1 as Seattle University saw their record drop to 5-17.

Players of the game could have been multiple, but we will go with just one, Freshman pitcher Josh Thompson. He would pitch 3.1 innings out of the bullpen giving up zero runs, shutting down the Wolverines offense. Josh Thompson is beginning to make a name for himself on this team, something the Redhawks truly need.

Redhawks Nation will hope that their beloved team can go on the road for 4 games and turn this around. They will head to Portland again for another afternoon game this Wednesday against the Pilots and then head to California to play CSU Bakersfield. Some other positives coming out the weekend: Freshman Kyle Sherick has taken over leading the team in hitting at an astonishing .349. Justin Mazzone continues to lead the team with 20 RBI’s and 5 home runs. Jacob Prater and Connor O’Brien are hitting over .300 and Kyler Murphy (who should be behind the plate more IMO) is nearing .300. Austin Lively is now hitting, upping his average over the weekend to .278. The offense is there if they can piece it together.

The Redhawks are a great team that is looking for identity. Losing two out of 3 games over the weekend is a huge deal because the Redhawks were clearly the superior team but after Friday’s game, they failed to show up for the weekend. Starting pitching needs an identity because they can’t just rely on Priz. The talent behind Jake is there but they can’t seem to get it together. The defense still needs to tighten up. Too many errors this weekend and over the entire series.

As for the bullpen, they need to step it up. Josh Thompson hopefully will help the problem, but do they reward him and insert him back into the rotation perhaps? If the offense could perform like they did this past Friday, things would be much better, but they aren’t producing like they should be. They seem to be trying but aren’t making the right pitch selections.

There were too many Redhawks striking out instead of putting the ball into play this weekend. Connor O’Brien, Jake Prizina, Austin Lively, Jacob Prater, Justin Mazzone, Kyler Murphy and Michael Ciancio I’m calling you out to take leadership on this team. The talent is there, perhaps better than last season, but someone (can be more than one) needs to take this team under their belt. They need a wake-up call so fire them up!!!

Best of luck on the road-trip. We have faith in you and know that this team can turn it around.

Go Redhawks!! Together We Soar!

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News Reporter
Brian joined the SSU in 2017 and covers the Everett AquaSox. I'm a graduate of Washington State University and I'm a die-hard baseball fan.