Tanner Chauncey extended his hitting streak to 11 games in a 5-4 loss to San Diego who eliminated BYU from the WCC Tournament. (Photo by BYU Photo/Mark Philbrick)
STOCKTON, Calif.—Regular season champion San Diego ousted BYU baseball from the West Coast Conference Tournament on Friday with a come-from-behind 5-4 victory.
The loss ends the season for the Cougars with a 28-25 record, while the Toreros continue to battle back through the loser’s bracket of the tournament. For the second straight game in the tourney, BYU had the lead through eight innings, bouncing back with a few hours of sleep following a late-night 8-7 loss to Pepperdine.
“We need to learn how to finish big games, win them and then move on to regionals,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said.” It’s baby steps. I hate to lose like this. Right now I feel we should have won two games in this tournament.”
Four double plays in the first four innings plus clutch pitching by starter Michael Rucker kept the game at a stalemate until the fifth inning when San Diego got the first of its three solo homers.
Trailing 1-0, BYU’s Dillon Robinson spoiled the no-hitter with the first of his three singles, which all led to runs on the afternoon. He tied the game after leading off the fifth with a single to right center and scored off Court Iorg’s infield single.
The Cougars took the first of their two leads in the game when Brennon Lund began the sixth inning with a single, giving BYU a 2-1 lead after scoring from Robinson’s shot also to left-center.
USD’s Kyle Holder tied the game at two-all when he led off the eighth with a homer to right field. The Cougars took the lead in the bottom of that frame when Parker Starr was the first to draw consecutive walks by starter PJ Conlan and his reliever Anthony McIver (3-2). Starr gave BYU a 3-2 lead when Robinson singled to right field.
Needing just three outs in the ninth to win, Cougar reliever Kolton Mahoney (4-8) surrendered a first-pitch homer to San Diego's Ben Wylly. Using that momentum, the next two Toreros scored to give them a 5-3 lead.
The Cougars threatened in the bottom of the ninth, with Tanner Chauncey leading off with a single, then advancing to third on Colton Shaver’s double to right field. Chauncey scored on a groundout, but pinch runner Eric Urry remained stranded at second.
“I feel bad for (Brandon) Kinser and Rucker, they were outstanding,” Littlewood said of his two starters in this tournament. “I’m extremely proud of every single game we have played. I knew we would be ready to play today and we have taken a professional approach all season long. We grind it out, grind it out, that’s the culture we are trying to build here.”
The loss ends a week-long six-game road trip in California with a 3-3 record for the Cougars, closing the 2015 season.