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September Baseball Blog

Sep 05, 2017 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 1:39 pm | Permalink

NEW FIELD: Head coach Mike Littlewood posted several tweets throughout the summer on BYU’s new baseball field.  Here is what he shared with BYU’s Daily Universe about the field:  "It seems like just yesterday that I approached Brian Santiago about the prospects of putting in a new playing surface. From that short conversation almost four years ago, along with a generous gift from former BYU baseball player Dave Decker, and of course with the support of our administration, we see the fruits of everyone's efforts.  This is not just a first-class stadium in this area, this is a first-class stadium worldwide and should be a game changer as far as the baseball team being able to play and practice outside during the winter months."

HONORING COACH TUCKETT:  Former BYU baseball coach Glen Tuckett (1959-1976) will be honored with an early birthday party (his actual birthdate is in December when he turns 90) thrown by his former players, all of whom are invited to attend on Sept. 15 at 7 p.m., in the Blue Zone of LaVell Edwards Stadium.  It will be a casual reception with remarks by former Major Leaguer Dane Iorg and former Cougar catcher Pal Eldredge as the emcee.

ANNUAL BASEBALL GOLF OUTING:  The annual BYU baseball golf outing is on Sept. at 15 at the TalonsCove Golf Course—the slots are full for that tournament.  Following the golf tourney, there will be an open house that everyone can walk through from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. at Miller Park.  Following the open house. The 2017-18 Cougars will hold a baseball scrimmage on Sept. 16 at 10 a.m.

ADD ANOTHER MARRIED PLAYER:  Outfielder Keaton Kringlen got married last month to McKenna Santiago, former BYU volleyball player.  The other married players on the team include: Brennon Anderson, Brock HaleKendall Motes, Rhett Parkinson, Hayden Rogers and Jordan Wood.

MISSION CALLS:  Virginians Pete Nielsen and Matt Favero have received their mission calls after being on the team last season.  Nielsen’s call is to Birmingham, Alabama and Favero’s call is to Eugene, Oregon.

MAJOR LEAGUE SON:  The fall roster has been posted and it includes freshman infielder Colton Kent, son of former San Francisco Giant Jeff Kent. Kent played 17 years of professional baseball (1992-2008), including six with the Giants from 1997-2002. Kent won the National League Most Valuable Player award in 2000. He was a five-time All-Star and also played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros, Cleveland Indians, New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays.

ANOTHER PRO CONNECTION: Freshman pitcher Walker Sigman is also on the new BYU roster.  Sigman’s brother Jackson pitched for the University of West Virginia and signed with the Kansas City Royals organization this past summer.

College World Series Blog

Jun 20, 2017 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 3:51 pm | Updated: June 28, 2017 1:31 pm | Permalink

For over 40 years I’ve wanted to get the College World Series in Omaha, where the CWS has been hosted since 1950. I used to joke with our former radio announcer, the late Raeldon Palmer, at the end of each year that we had to quit lying to our wives about taking them to Omaha. My wife and I were only able to attend the opening game of the 2017 CWS, but here are a few of my impressions in case some of you never get the opportunity to attend.

PRESS CONFERENCE: The press conference announced me as the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Wilbur Snypp Award winner along with Oregon State’s Pat Casey as NCBWA coach of the year, and Louisville’s Lincoln Henzman and Brendan McKay as NCBWA Stopper of the Year and Dick Howser Trophy recipient, respectively. Henzman was selected in the fourth round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Chicago White Sox. McKay was the No. 4 overall MLB draft pick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Former BYU baseball coaches Glen Tuckett and Gary Pullins were in town for board meetings with the American Baseball Coaches Association and attended the press conference.

PRESS BOX: The CWS press box is a working press box, but my family got to tour it briefly before and during the opening game thanks to the two one-day passes provided me because of my award. Inside the press box on the fourth level of the stadium I got to meet up again with one of our former interns, Lorie Garnett, who volunteered to work the CWS, taking time off from her master’s business program at nearby University of  Nebraska-Lincoln. Riding the elevator up to the press box I heard the announcers even make reference to former quarterback Gifford Nielsen, giving credit to him playing at BYU as well as for the Houston Oilers.

TICKETS: Because I had other members of my family in attendance for my award, I needed tickets to attend the opening game due to the NCAA’s no complimentary ticket policy, which I didn’t fully understand until a couple days before my arrival in Omaha. So I scrambled and found three tickets in section 301 down the right field line.

T-SHIRT: I purchased T-shirts both at the CWS and at the NCAA Regional at Stanford. A difference I noticed was the brand sold at the CWS compared to a  similar shirt I had purchased at Stanford.

NEWSPAPER COVERAGE: The Omaha World Herald does a spectacular job from what I saw. The pre-CWS paper had three special multi-page sections in addition to front page and sports page stories.

AIRPORTS: Eppley Airfield is Omaha’s airport, but it is actually located across the state line in Iowa. Years ago I flew into that airport from Salt Lake City via Phoenix because there is no direct flight from Utah.  That problem exists for other parts of the country as well. Some of the people who hosted me had flown in from Texas, West Virginia and Florida. This time I flew to Kansas City where four of my grandchildren reside, then I drove up to Omaha. I learned some of my hosts also flew into Kansas City because of easier flights. My driver on the shuttle at MCI in Kansas City thought the “Y” on my shirt stood for Yale, but was quickly corrected by other Utah-bound passengers before another patron boarded, saying “Go Utes,” as he passed by me. Amongst the CWS crowd we noticed two fans sporting University of Utah and Weber State University gear.

FINAL FOUR vs. CWS: Earlier this year I took a rare break from covering BYU baseball to have a reunion with my brothers at the men’s basketball Final Four in Phoenix. While the Final Four draws thousands more people, there are throngs of fans flocking around the NCAA and marketing venues that surround both events. At Omaha, fans form a line around TD Ameritrade Park. I first thought that line was forming to get one of the bobble head promotionals, but had to battle through a similar line of LSU-Florida State fans after they cleared the stadium from the Oregon State-Cal State Fullerton game.

NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS: The CWS was my 10th NCAA championship event I’ve attended. I’ve previously attended three for men’s basketball, two for men’s golf, two for track and field, one for cross country and one for men’s volleyball.

WEATHER: The forecast was hot and muggy, but we caught a break with the overcast skies and a breeze that required us to watch that our caps didn't blow away and prevented more homers going out of the park.  So the weather was perfect for the opening game. The Fan Fest and fireworks scheduled the night before was canceled due to the high winds and rain. I saw evidence of that on nearby I-29 where a microburst left insulation from a destroyed building along the freeway littered with broken branches. Driving back to Kansas City that night we got caught in a driving rainstorm, thinking the Florida State-LSU game surely was postponed since it was raining when we exited TD Ameritrade Park. But that game went on as scheduled.

RESTAURANTS: There is an extensive list of restaurants in the Omaha World-Herald World Series edition, but my Nebraska dental grad brother and his wife took us to a famed Italian restaurant not mentioned. The fare was good and baseball aficionados Tommy Lasorda and Kevin Coster had dined there in earlier years.

CAL STATE FULLERTON: BYU could trace a path to the 2017 CWS via Cal State Fullerton, who won four true road games in the NCAA Regionals to get to Omaha. Then the Titans lost their first two games  in Omaha to No. 1 Oregon State, after leading 5-1, until they replaced the same All-American pitcher who defeated the Cougars; and twice led Florida State. Just as I had observed at Stanford when CSF beat BYU, its sports information director was not often in the press box, but working elsewhere in those respective stadiums.

BYU AND OMAHA: BYU made two appearances in the College World Series in 1968 and 1971, both won by USC. In 1958 and 1961, BYU didn’t get to go to the College World Series because of Sunday play, even though the Cougars had qualified—that rule has since changed. USC won the CWS both of those years, too. BYU lost earlier in 1961 at USC, but ended that season with a 24-game winning streak. Northern Colorado went to the CWS both those years in place of BYU.  The Cougars also lost in 1968 and 1971 at USC, but did register a victory against the Trojans in one of those 1968 games at Los Angeles.

BYU BASEBALL AT TD AMERITRADE:  In 2012 BYU played one game at TD Ameritrade Park when it lost to Creighton 2-0. Tanner Chauncey and Mason Marshall played in that contest, but no home runs were hit by Creighton. In 2015, Colton Shaver belted seven dingers in the College Home Run Derby at TD Ameritrade Park. Since the CWS moved from heralded Rosenblatt Stadium, that park has seen the following home runs totals: 2011-9; 2012-10; 2013-3; 2014-3; 2015-15; 2016-10; and 2017-23.

June Baseball Blog

Jun 09, 2017 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 2:52 pm | Updated: June 12, 2017 12:05 pm | Permalink

GATORADE BATH: Connor Williams engineered the orange Gatorade bath given to Coach Mike Littlewood.  The orange cooler really did contain orange Gatorade dumped over Littlewood by Riley Gates and Bo Burrup as other teammates shielded the surprise to their coach following the dog pile at Stockton, California in celebration of the West Coast Conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. Littlewood shed his orange-soaked uniform at the ballpark to stay warm and his wife soon brought it to equipment manager Steve Bushman that night so he could launder it to its original cream color.

WATER BATH: On the bottom of the dog pile at the pitcher’s mound at Banner Island Ballpark were winning pitcher Bo Burrup and Colton Shaver.  Two other Cougars got the brunt of the water dousing that ensued:  David Clawson and Keaton Kringlen, whose uniforms were drenched.

SILENT ENTRY: Noticeable amongst all of the jubilation of the BYU team and fans following the tourney title in Stockton was the late stealthy, silent, subdued entry of pitcher Keaton Cenatiempo on the bus back to the hotel. After a few steps “Dinnertime” erupted into celebration going back to his seat.

GO PRO: Two Cougars wore Go Pro cameras at the WCC Tournament in Stockton. Brennon Anderson accepted the league’s invitation to wear the camera during batting practice the day before competition began. And Maverik Buffo was designated to wear the Go Pro from the dugout to the postgame dog pile.

MORE FANS: There were 1,442 fans reported in attendance at Banner Island Ballpark for the BYU-Gonzaga championship doubleheader.  Unbeknown to many, there were 1,100 Cougar partisans seated in the South end zone at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo watching the championship on the big screen and several TV monitors. That group of Provo fans was attending the annual Father-Sons basketball camp.

NO HABLO: A hotel maid was impressed that several of BYU’s players (six served Spanish-speaking missions) spoke Spanish to her as they made their way to their rooms in Stockton. The maid told yours truly, who responded “no hablo.” Brennon Anderson, an RM who served a mission in Chile, shared that Spanish helped him in last year’s games at Samford when he overheard he was going to be picked off and replied in Spanish to a surprised Bulldog player.

FLAT TIRE: With half the team aboard prior to leaving the hotel for game two at the Stanford Regional, it was discovered BYU’s bus had a flat tire.  With in minutes of Coach Littlewood’s announcement to have hitters leave first for batting practice, seven cars and vans were called into quick action.  Driving those vehicles were pitching coach Jeremy Thomas, Darice Pratt (wife of assistant coach Trent), Tuckett Slade (director of baseball operations), Hayden Nielsen (graduate assistant), Steve Bushman (equipment manager), Steve Buffo (father of Maverik) and Travis Jacobsen (father of Casey and Mackay).

TIME LINE: With construction now in progress at Larry H. Miller Field, replacing natural grass with a heated artificial turf field, here’s the timeline of past major events for BYU playing fields:

1957—First game played at diamond on the site where current Tanner Building is now erected.

1969—Playing field changed from site of the current Tanner Building to current location.

2001—Miller Park constructed on site of current location.

2017—Natural grass replaced with artificial turf.

FORMER ATHLETES: Blake Torgerson, with several of the 2002 #GoCougs NCAA Regional team, paused to pose at Stanford NCAA Regional. Some of these former BYU baseball players drove from other parts of California, Utah and Arizona to be in attendance at this regional since they were members of the last BYU team to make a regional and have stayed in close touch over the years. Joining Torgerson (2005-2011) were Casey Cloward, Blair Lucas, Cameron Coughlan (did color for BYU radio in game 1 at Stanford), Ryan Chambers, Mike Bergeron, Ranger Wiens (did color for BYU radio at WCC tournament), Wade Vest and Tyler Dabo, Lance Beus, Paul Jacinto, Jeff Hiestand, Kevin Bills (current Stanford director of baseball operations) and Jeff’s father Kevin (did color for BYU radio in game 2 at Stanford).  Other #GoCougs in attendance at the Stanford regional included: Ryan Hancock (former MLB teammate of ESPN3 analyst J.T. Snow did color for BYU radio on game 3 at Stanford), Dave Pettey (1976) and Adam Miller (2009-13, now rehabbing with Arizona Diamondbacks). Former #GoCoug quarterback Steve Young was also in attendance on Saturday for the final game at Stanford. And at Stockton, former BYU diver Mike Mooney (1983-86) drove down from Sacramento to watch his alma mater.

TWEETS: A couple of the many tweets posted after BYU won the WCC title in Stockton:

is what @ZagKennelClub tweeted on 5/27, posting a mug shot of Hayden Rogers, comparing his likeness to former Zag basketball star Kevin Pangos.  Former Bulldog turned Cougar Mike Rucker (now a pro pitcher in Myrtle Beach, S.C. for the Chicago Cubs) zinged his former teammates who dog-piled in Spokane after Gonzaga swept BYU, then got swept by the Cougars in Stockton for the NCAA automatic berth:

is what @mikeruck 27 tweeted on 5/27.

@STITCH_HEAD: Eric Sorenson, a correspondent, wrote the following after BYU won the WCC Tournament in Stockton: “Holy freakin’ Toledo. The Cougars went out and took a pair of games vs. Gonzaga to win the WCC auto-bid in a bludgeoning fashion, 10-3 and 16-3. If you’re not good at math that means they beat the Zags by a combined 26-6 in two successive games on Saturday. BYU lost its first game in the WCC tourney back on Thursday to LMU, but since then the Cougs scored 49 runs in five games to take the crown.”

DRIVE TIME: Tanner Chauncey, Brady Corless and Riley Gates all drove from Stockton back to Utah with their families instead of flying back with team.

SPRINTS TO PEN: Catchers Mackay Jacobsen and Noah Hill worked in the outfield bullpen at Banner Island Ballpark. Hill was seen sprinting fast between innings from the first base dugout during one of the WCC tourney games. Jacobsen’s view of the game was blocked as he warmed up BYU pitchers, but he reported hearing the ball land off the bullpen wall from Bronson Larsen’s tournament record-breaking home run in the 10-3 win over Gonzaga.

LETTER TO #GOCOUGS: On the lobby bulletin board at Miller Park is the following letter: “Dear BYU Players coachs and staff, I want to write and tell you all thank you for the AWESMOE cougar gear, letting me go to your batting practice, showing me around and letting me be in the dug-out during the game. I can’t stop talking about it!! It was Awesome, and really was the Experience. Sincerely, Your biggest fan, Easton Ott”

May Baseball Blog

May 18, 2017 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 11:41 am | Updated: August 11, 2017 2:46 pm | Permalink

BIG DANCE(RS): March Madness for college basketball is known as the "Big Dance." Similarly, the field of 64 for the NCAA Road to Omaha could be termed as filling out a dance card.  BYU has its own dancers, at least three of them. Daniel Schneemann was a member of the dance choir in high school. Scheemann claims dance-off wins against teammate Keaton Kringlen in locker room competitions.

HUSH, HUSH: Last month Casey Jacobsen was on deck, trying to concentrate on his upcoming at bat at No. 19 San Diego where the Cougars had never won until taking two of three in the series at USD. Jacobsen kept hearing a fan call out "hey, 16" as he was taking his practice cuts. The exasperated fan's voice sounded familiar, so Jacobsen finally turned around when that fan said something like, "You think you're too good for us?" Jacobsen turned around to see it was one of his three cousins who had driven from nearby Mission Viejo, California.

ARMS IN THE DNA: Catcher Bronson Larsen's fiancée Kelsey has a cannon of an arm due to years of playing softball at Northridge High School in Layton, Utah. "When I go home on weekends she always wants to play catch," said Larsen. Larsen's Dad was among five fathers who demonstrated a good arm when the quintet threw the game's first pitches on Senior Day against Portland. Keaton Cenatiempo's father, who played baseball at four different colleges ( Riverside CC, Ricks College, Washington State and Briar Cliff in Iowa) also threw a strike to his son on Senior Day. "I still hold the ball the same way he taught me to throw a curve when I was younger," said Cenatiempo.

ANOTHER ENGAGEMENT: Second baseman, sometimes outfielder, Brennon Anderson recently joined teammates Bronson Larsen and Keaton Kringlen in the engaged ranks for summer weddings. After sweeping Saint Mary's last month, on the day prior to playing Oregon, Anderson finished watching the LDS General Conference Sunday afternoon session to record this video proposal to his  fiancée to whom he was first introduced by former Cougar Court Iorg

SIGNED BALL: Ben Huff from Perry, Utah texted his father from the Salt Lake Airport, telling him he was on the same flight as the BYU baseball team. Huff's father is a huge Cougar fan and asked him to get something signed by the team. Pitcher Brady Corless volunteered to give Huff a baseball which several teammates signed while waiting to board the flight.

ANOTHER SUMMER ASSIGNMENT: Freshman catcher David Clawson will be playing this summer on the six-time National Champion Santa Barbara Foresters wood-bat team in California.

REFEREES: Eight associates of Coach Mike Littlewood came in for an annual gathering during the Portland series last weekend to continue to be supportive of him. Among them was Highland High School math teacher Scott Thornley, who played football at Idaho State with BYU pitcher Bo Burrup's grandfather.  Littlewood officiated NCAA basketball for 16 years, including three NCAA Sweet 16 and two Elite 8 appearances and was scheduled to work the 2013 NCAA Final Four when BYU hired him as its baseball coach.  Thornley has worked the Final Fours and another of the eight gathered last weekend worked last month's Final Four in Phoenix.  The eight played golf last week in Provo in addition to attending the games and one of them yelled out from the stands on one occasion to the umpire crew who made a questionable call Littlewood had protested.

MORE ON FINAL FOUR:  Two of the handful of BYU home baseball games missed by BYU baseball sports information director Ralph Zobell in his 40-plus years on the job was last month's finale of the Saint Mary's series and the Oregon while he was attending the men's basketball NCAA Final Four in Phoenix where a roaming Newsweek reporter accidently found Zobell as a fan with his brothers high up in the stands instead of on press row.  You can read about the Zobell brothers two-thirds of the way down in this Newsweek story: Zobell will be attending his first College World Series next month on opening day when he receives the Wilbur Snypp Award where former BYU baseball coaches Glen Tuckett and Gary Pullins will also be in attendance for annual meetings as members of the board for the American Baseball Coaches Association.

POSSIBLE SITES: Depending on the publication, BYU has been projected to play in one of the following cities for NCAA postseason should the Cougars win the automatic berth: Corvallis, Oregon; Fullerton, California; Lubbock, Texas; or Tucson, Arizona.
RANKINGS: A couple of comments from unknowing fans have "poo-pooed" BYU being ranked in some obscure or made up poll in reference to the Cougars consecutive No. 18 rankings by Collegiate Baseball magazine found at The Tucson, Arizona-based publication has been around for over 40 years, long before other outlets existed. 
FIRST PLACINGS: The current first place finish is the 15th in school history and the second in the West Coast Conference. For a tally of the two titles won in the Mountain West Conference, the eight Western Athletic Conference titles and the three Skyline Conference titles, see BYU, game notes for the Gonzaga series on page 4

April Baseball Blog

Apr 15, 2017 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 9:12 pm | Updated: April 20, 2017 4:59 pm | Permalink
ESPNU TELEVISING AGAIN: It was released a couple days ago that BYU's game at Gonzaga will be televised by ESPNU/WatchESPN, Saturday, May 20, 7:30 p.m. PT. ESPNU televised the BYU-Santa Clara game last year in Provo.
UPCOMING GRADUATIONS: Graduating this month from BYU are: pitcher Brady Corless in family life and current graduate assistant/former shortstop Hayden Nielsen in exercise and wellness. Players hopeful of a June graduation are Keaton Cenatiempo in exercise and wellness, Tanner Chauncey in statistics and Bronson Larsen in exercise and wellness.
NOMINATED FOR CoSIDA ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT: Brock Hale 3.47 cumulative grade point average, majoring in pre-business; Bo Burrup 3.44 GPA, majoring in pre-communications; and Nate Favero  3.33 GPA, majoring in political science have been nominated for the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-District team.
BASEBALL COLLECTION: Pitching coach Jeremy Thomas added five baseballs from teams representing five new conferences who had games with BYU this school year: Michigan State with the Big 10, Georgia Tech with the ACC, Kennesaw State with the Big South Conference, Georgia State with the Sun Belt Conference, and Connecticut with the American Athletic Conference. Coach Thomas now has 28 baseballs in that collection, including a couple College World Series baseballs.
WALK-UP MUSIC: Here are the names of walkup songs (the non-R rated segments) for several of the BYU Cougars:</p>
Ronnie Adair – Tell the World – Lecrae
Brennon Anderson – Pull the Trigger – Russ
Jackson Bishop – I’d Love to Change – Jetta
Maverik Buffo – Ladies and Gentlemen – Saliva
Bo Burrup – Seven Nation Army – White Stripes
Matt Bushman – So Fresh – Outkast
Keaton Cenatiempo – Double Double Trouble – MIA
Tanner Chauncey – Power – Kanye West
David Clawson – The Pretender – Foo Fighters
Aaron Cross – Don’t Let Me Down – Chainsmokers
Kyle Dean – Come With Now – Kongos
Matt Favero – She Cranks – Dustin Lynch
Nate Favero – Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson
Riley Gates – Right Now – Van Halen
Brock Hale – The Movement – Kid Ink
Noah Hill – Sucker for Pain – Lil Wayne
Brian Hsu – Get Stupid – Mac Dre
Casey Jacobsen – Fitzpleasure – Alt-J
Mackay Jacobsen – Levels – Aviici
Keaton Kringlen – Work – Rihanna, Bad Royale remix
Bronson Larsen - Imperial March – Star Wars
Mason Marshall – Want It All – Queen
Kendall Motes – I Can’t Stop – Flux Pavilion
Pete Nielsen – Flower – Moby
Rhett Parkinson – As Good as I Once Was – Toby Keith
Hayden Rogers – Here Comes the Hotstepper – Ini Kamoze
Daniel Schneemann – My Name Is – Eminem
Colton Shaver – King Kong – Jibs
Connor Williams – My Life Be Like – Grits
Jordan Wood – Come and Get Your Love – Redbone
SPRING SPROUTS: Or this could be called #mustachemafia Part II. Relief pitchers Mason Marshall and Rhett Parkinson started their mustaches a couple weeks ago and the Cougars have gone 10-2 in that period.The fad may be gaining momentum again.
SUMMER ASSIGNMENTS: In addition to the summer assignments mentioned in our March blog, Cam Richins will be playing for the Chico Heat in Chico, California, where Keaton Kringlen and Daniel Schneemann played last summer.
PRO ASSIGNMENTS: Here is what we've learned of pro assignments of former Cougar baseball players for this month after the completion of spring training:
Jaycob Brugman –AAA Nashville Sounds in Tennessee
Taylor Cole –AAA Buffalo Bisons in New York
Jacob Hannemann –AAA Iowa Cubs in Des Moines
Adam Law –AA-Arkansas Travelers with Marcus Littlewood and in Little Rock
Brennon Lund –A ball in Burlington, Iowa
Kolton Mahoney –Low A Charleston Riverdogs in South Carolina
Adam Mille –Still rehabbing at the Diamondbacks Facility in Arizona
Mike Rucker –Low A South Bend Cubs in Indiana
BROCK HALE TIME OFF: Because of a knee strain suffered in the Oregon game the first part of this month, BYU's leading hitter Brock Hale had time to work on other statistics.While the Cougars were at the Pacific series, Hale remained behind to continue rehabbing his knee and spent added time in a mathematics lab at BYU studying for a test in in Math 118 and got a pleasing test score.
IMPENDING DOOM: Check out this notation of "Impending doom" in this link pointed out by the astute eye of David Richey from Ogden, whether it be the intended comment about the rainy weather at game one at Pacific earlier this month or the prediction of Maverik Buffo's 6-0 shutout thanks to Bronson Larsen's grand slam:
FORGOT IN FEBRUARY TO MENTION: "I'm really impressed with BYU. I felt like every pitcher that they ran out there was good, their left side of the infield made some really good plays and up and down their lineup they can really hit," said Coach Danny Hall of Georgia Tech.
FLASHING LEATHER: Here are two scriptures referenced on BYU players' gloves: 1) on Pete Nielsen's glove is Isaiah 12:2--Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.; and 2) on one of the gloves used by Noah Hill is James 1:12--Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Hill also has initials representing an acronym from his high school team: FBL, enscribed on the same glove and written inside his ball cap. And then there's this emblazoned in Spanish on Brennon Anderson's glove: La Leyenda (meaning "The Legend")

March Baseball Blog

Mar 20, 2017 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 1:10 pm | Permalink

FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS:  Thanks to Tuckett Slade, director of BYU baseball operations, the Cougars have the ability to stream on Facebook Live when no other live video is available.  Consequently, Facebook audiences for BYU’s games at Georgia State, and at Stockton and Bakersfield, California have tuned in to watch from far away places.  Among those locales are New Zealand; Magrath, Alberta, Canada; Florida; Iowa; Cleveland and Las Vegas; Great Falls, Virginia; Whitehall, Arkansas; Tucson, Arizona; Barstow and Canyon Country, California; Beaver and Tooele, Utah; and Nederland, Texas.  That true Cougar fan in Texas was Michael Zimmerman, who had his TV tuned to BYUtv to watch the women’s basketball game against Washington State in the WNIT while viewing Facebook for BYU baseball’s 7-6 win over UConn.

CALLING ON COLUMBIA:  The parents of Keaton Cenatiempo were in Georgia for the Cougars’ games in the Atlanta Challenge.  During the Sunday break, Keaton drove with his parents to Columbia, South Carolina, where his father served years ago as a missionary.

MORE VISITORS:  While in Stockton, California for the games against San Jose State and Northern Colorado, Cougars Keaton Kringlen and Daniel Scheemann had a special visitor.  Their coach from Chico, California, where they played summer ball drove down to watch them play. When the Cougars had their first outdoor preseason practice of the year at St. George, several of Kringlen’s friends and family drove down from Cedar City.

FOOTBALL-BASEBALL CONNECTION:  Fans may remember Jacob Hannemann, now on the 40-man roster for the Chicago Cubs as is Jaycob Brugman with the Oakland A’s.  Hannemann was a defensive back, like his brother Micah, for BYU football.  Jacob Hannemann donated his Rawlings glove to the Cougars and it is now in use by another BYU gridder who doubles with the baseball team—Matt Bushman.  Bushman’s glove had yet to arrive, so he has been using Hannemann’s mitt on the diamond and does morning workouts with BYU football as a tight end.

ENGAGED COUGARS: Catcher Bronson Larsen is engaged with plans to be married this summer.  Last month outfielder Keaton Kringlen got engaged to former BYU volleyball player Makenna Santiago, daughter of former Cougar cager Mark, with plans also to be married this summer.

SUMMER ASSIGNMENTS: Some summer ball assignments are known for Cougars: Kyle Dean to the Wareham Gatemen, the same club Colton Shaver played for last summer in the Cape Cod League and Daniel Schneemann and redshirt pitcher Kenny Saenz for the St. Cloud Rox Baseball Club in Minnesota.

PULLINS BACK IN ACTION:  Former BYU coach Gary Pullins, who moved from Port Orford, Oregon to Chappell Hill, Texas near Austin, made a brief stop in Provo en route to Idaho Falls for a family gathering.  While in Provo, Pullins was micside as a color analyst with Brent Norton.  Pullins is scheduled to be with Norton again the first part of May in Santa Clara, California, when he joins his former BYU baseball coach Glen Tuckett and Dr. Tom Fife, a former Cougar teammate, when the threesome convenes in a yearly gathering.

February Baseball Blog

Feb 16, 2017 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 9:17 am | Permalink

ATLANTA CHALLENGE LIVE LINKS: Georgia Tech will have  a one-camera setup for a broadcast on the ACC Network Extra (ESPN3).  Kennesaw State will have online streaming , but won't have a play-by-play announcer for the game due to a basketball doubleheader, but will have audio and a crowd mic. See our schedule page for those links:

RARELY FRIDAY:  Baseball America wrote how BYU will miss “electric Friday starter Michael Rucker.” Yes, Rucker will be missed, but his electricity rarely conducted on a Friday.  BYU plays Thursday, Friday and Saturday series, never on a Sunday.  Rucker pitched twice last year on a Friday: in the season opener vs. Saint Louis and in the opening upset over No. 25 Creighton.  The All-American Rucker, who signed with the Chicago Cubs with a year of eligibility remaining, had 13 Thursday appearances and one Monday appearance en route to his 11-1 record.

GAME NOTES:  More detailed information on the team is posted through a multi-page PDF attached to our weekly game advances.  Those notes include preseason honors, a listing of former Cougar players from Georgia , etc.  Here’s the link for the season-opening game notes:

FIELD OF 64:  Baseball America also listed BYU among its projected field of 64 as a No. 3 seed at the Charlottesville, Virginia regional as the league champion.  It also listed WCC foe Gonzaga as a No. 3 seed at the Corvallis, Oregon regional and Cougar opponents UC Santa Barbara as a No. 2 seed at Corvallis; and Georgia Tech as a No. 2 seed at the Lafayette, Louisiana Regional.

SHAVER PRESEASON HONORS: Colton Shaver is one of 55 on the Golden Spikes Preseason watch list, see link at Shaver was also listed as a Preseason All-American by The Sporting News.

ATTENDING FIRST PITCH DINNER:  Among the former BYU baseball players who attended last month’s fourth-annual First Pitch Dinner were:  Tim Anderson, Cortland Andrews, Bryce Ayoso, Mike Bergeron, Jeff Bills, Casey Cloward, Paul Cluff, Taylor Cole, Gary Cooper, Cameron Coughlan, Tyler Dabo, David Decker, Ryan Freeman, Rusty Gray, Jacob Hannemann, Matt Hutchings, Paul Jacinto, Wally Joyner, Adam Law, Mike Littlewood, Blair Lucas, Hayden Nielsen, Tyler Perry, Bryce Searle, Mark Smith, Jeremy Thomas, Eric Urry, Brock Whitney, Brad Winget, Alex Wolfe and former coaches Glen Tuckett and Vernon Law.

MORE ON FIRST PITCH DINNER:  A Georgia anecdote was revealed at the end of the First Pitch Dinner by Wally Joyner about keynote speaker Dale Murphy.  Cougar alum and All-American Joyner told of growing up in Georgia and getting prime seats at the struggling Atlanta Braves’ games. Murphy was a hero of his whom he met once before the next encounter on I-285.  The then-teenage Joyner was delivering ice, trying to keep a truck with bad alignment in the lines and noticed a car behind him.  Soon the car pulled up beside Joyner and he noticed it was Murphy, waving out the window at the teenager he remembered.

NATIONAL HONOR FOR ZOBELL:  Yours truly was selected as the 42nd winner of the annual Wilbur Snypp Award for contributions to college baseball.  @RalphZobell tweeted:  “Scores of colleagues, interns, #BYUbaseball players, coaches & family helped with nat'l honor. Thank you. #GoCougs …” Official presentation of the award is scheduled for opening day of the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska on June 17, so let’s root for the Cougars to be there as one of the team qualifiers.  Former BYU coaches Gary Pullins and Glen Tuckett are scheduled to be in Omaha again for their yearly American Baseball Coaches Association meetings.

January Baseball Blog

Jan 17, 2017 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 4:03 pm | Updated: February 1, 2017 2:21 pm | Permalink

BUSY JANUARY: Starting with school work, practice and the fourth annual First Pitch Dinner on Jan. 27 featuring Dale Murphy, the Cougars are readying for the 2017 season.

LITTLEWOOD INDUCTION: Congratulations are in order for Coach Mike Littlewood who is one of five persons to be inducted on Jan. 28 into the Dixie State Athletic Hall of Fame.

COUGARS IN ST. GEORGE: BYU’s baseball team is working out this month at the BYU Indoor Practice Facility. Full team practices start Jan. 28. The Cougars travel to St. George on Feb. 3-4 and 10-11 to get practice in outdoor conditions.

READY FOR SPECIAL YEAR: All the Cougars are eligible and posted a team GPA of 3.0 last semester, according to Coach Littlewood. “Every single inning we can score,” Littlewood told Cougar Clubbers at their January luncheon in Provo. “If pitching goes the right way, we could have a special year. We have 10 proven guys who can pitch.

SHOW UP: That’s the theme for this year’s BYU baseball team, some of whom have a chance to eventually make it to “The Show.” BYU basketball coach Dave Rose, himself a baseball aficionado whose bucket list includes going to every Major League Park (he has 20 to his credit so far), told Cougar Clubbers after Littlewood preceded him at this month’s luncheon that show up is what he teaches his cagers, to “be counted on, do what you say you’re going to do.”

NEW ROYAL TOPS: BYU baseball will have a new look with its Royal-colored uniform top emblazoned with the word COUGARS across the front and matching cap with what is known as the “Vintage BYU logo,” the Cougar wearing a sailor hat. This Royal look will be worn mainly at home games and is what the team wore at this month's green screen shots for BYUtv.

CHAUNCEY AT HARPER WEDDING: Tanner Chauncey, a Las Vegas boyhood friend of Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals, attended last month’s wedding of Harper to former BYU soccer player Kayla Varner in San Diego. After the wedding in the San Diego Temple, the Chaunceys were at the table during the reception with Stephen Strasburg. Other MLB players at the reception included Trea Turner, Tyler Clippard, Joey Gallo and Kris Bryant.

WEDDED BLISS: Pitcher Brady Corless got married to Ashlee Nyborg earlier this month. Other married players on the team include: Keaton Cenatiempo, Tanner Chauncey, Brock Hale, Mason Marshall, Kendall MotesRhett Parkinson, Hayden Rogers, Connor Williams and Jordan Wood.

COACHES CONVENE: Assistant coaches Trent Pratt, Brent Haring and director of baseball operations Tuckett Slade attended the American Association of Baseball Coaches Convention in Anaheim, California the beginning of January.

HAYDEN NIELSEN LONGEVITY: Joining the BYU coaching staff as a graduate assistant is former BYU shortstop Hayden Nielsen. Nielsen started the past 213 games as the Cougar shortstop.

CARRIBEAN PART DEUX: Keaton Kringlen returned to the Caribbean for the second time in as many months at the end of 2016. Kringlen was part of the team’s Thanksgiving break tour to Curacao. During the Christmas holidays, the sophomore slugger traveled to Puerto Rico with the family of his girlfriend Makenna Santiago, who just finished her eligibility with BYU’s women’s volleyball team.

THE VULCAN: Coach Littlewood spoke at January’s Cougar Club luncheon in Provo and showed the Star Trek Vulcan sign with his hand to demonstrate how JC transfer left-handed pitcher Aaron Cross throws his “filthy Vulcan change up.”

October baseball blog

Oct 03, 2016 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 12:18 pm | Updated: March 20, 2017 9:08 pm | Permalink

UPCOMING SCRIMMAGES:  On Saturday, Oct. 8, BYU has a 14-inning (yes, 14 innings) baseball exhibition at 10 a.m. ET at Michigan State’s at McLane Stadium, and the Cougar football team plays MSU at 3:30 p.m. ET. Fans can listen live to the play-by-play of the BYU-MSU baseball scrimmage through this link.

On Friday, Oct. 14 at 4 p.m., it will be the annual Blue/White game at Miller Park. On Thursday, Oct. 27, BYU will have a scrimmage with Salt Lake Community College.

GOLF OUTING:  More than 50 former BYU baseball players participated in last month’s annual golf tournament at TalonsCove Golf Course in Saratoga Springs prior to having an alumni game and attending the UCLA-BYU football game. The foursome of Todd & Tyson Rogers, Perry Bronson and Kendrick Martinez won the scramble.

GOLF STORIES: Here are some stories picked up prior to players’ foursomes teeing off at TalonsCove.  Former catcher Lars Birkland was joined by his brother Brett, who ran track for BYU from 2009-2010. Former catcher/DH Michael Davies retired just shy of 20 years with the U.S. Department of Defense where he learned Korean and Chinese. Davies, who interned with BYU Athletic Media Relations, now has more hair in his beard than he had on his head as a player. 

MORE GOLF STORIES: Former KSL-TV news anchor and BYU pitcher Scott Haws uses his talents now to pitch multimillion dollar homes for Narr8media.  Former All-American outfielder Ben Saylor still teaches hitting lessons and sells educational tools called Tales4Teaching. Former relief pitcher J.D. Stambaugh flew in from Memphis, Tennessee, where he is a financial planner for Raymond James & Associates and attended last year’s BYU baseball series at Samford in Alabama.

BROADCASTER BRENT: Brent Norton says he plans to do BYU radio play-by-play broadcasts for his 25th year, including some games from the UC Santa Barbara series and the recently announced Oregon game in Provo. Norton also adds the recent golf scramble had a “nice touch,” where he was paired with Spencer Linton, the BYUtv voice of Cougar baseball and long-time BYU baseball player Jeff Bills and his coach Glen Tuckett, who combined for 13-under, but “out of the money.”

ALUMNI GAME: There were enough former players on hand to field teams for an alumni game, which was won 3-1 thanks to a two-run homer by Brock Whitney. Among those who played in that alumni game were pitchers Mark Anderson, Paul Jacinto, Anthony Bingham and Brandon Kinser (who touched 89 mph), who paid the price the next day for throwing so many pitches. Also playing in that game were former players Kevin Bills, Brandon Taylor, Kory Knell, Ryan Chambers, Lars Birkland, Michel Bergeron and Jake Stubblefield.

MARRIED LAST SUMMER:  Five current Cougars got married over the summer: Tanner Chauncey, Brock Hale, Mason Marshall, Kendall Motes and Jordan Wood.

DATE SET FOR JANUARY BANQUET: Make plans to attend the Annual First Pitch Dinner on Jan. 27 (Friday) at the NuSkin Building.

DIPLOMA: Assistant Coach Brent Haring spoke last month at the Pleasant Grove High School Seminary FEAST (“friends eating and sharing testimonies”).  At the beginning of his remarks, he mentioned one of his regrets was that he did not graduate from Seminary.  Haring got surprised when former BYU pitcher Marc Oslund, who teaches at that Seminary, presented him with a diploma signed by Oslund.

May Baseball Blog

May 05, 2016 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 2:24 pm | Updated: May 6, 2016 7:59 pm | Permalink

MORE MISSIONARY NEWS:  Easton Walker received his mission call to Cusco, Peru, joining Bryan Call who has his call to Taiwan and Jackson Cluff who has his call to Atlanta, Ga.

ANOTHER ENGAGED PLAYER:  Brock Hale is the latest Cougar engaged to be married this summer.

SOUTHERN BBQ:  An item from last February is that the father's of Noah Hill and Casey Jacobsen drove to Birmingham, Alabama, pulling a BBQ smoker and prepared brisket, pork and ribs for the Cougars after one of their games against Samford.

WALK-UP MUSIC:  Here's the names of walkup songs (the non-R rated segments) for several of the BYU Cougars:

ESPNU ANNOUNCER:  The play-by-play announcer for the May 21 game on ESPNU against Santa Clara is expected to be Mike Couzens. Couzens was a play-by-play broadcaster for the Big Ten Network and also served as the broadcasting and media relations manager for the Fort Wayne TinCaps, the Single-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres.  The color analyst is yet to be named.

CENATIEMPO & FATHER:  Keaton Cenatiempo says he and his father Kris, who played baseball at Washington State in 1986, have competed on seven of the same college fields.  They are BYU, Pepperdine, Gonzaga, Cal Poly Pomona, San Diego State, Portland and Cal State Northridge.

SUMMER BALL ASSIGNMENTS:  Here are the summer ball assignments for some of the Cougars once they finish with the work at hand this season:  

WRISTBANDS FOR RILEY:  Actually the Cougars started wearing orange wristbands and writing the initials K.G. on their hats in support of  Kennadi, the 10-year-old sister of pitcher Riley Gates who was diagnosed last month with leukemia. The players and coaches also have the initials K.G. on their hats.

SANS STACHES:  Following the series losses at Saint Mary's and against Creighton all of the Cougars shaved their mustaches, but say #mustachemafia will return when they get an NCAA Regional bid.