In the game of inches, BYU's young, talented baseball team came up short in a rebuilding year.
The Cougars finished the season at 26-31 overall and 12-17 in their final year in the Western Athletic Conference. A tough road schedule at nationally ranked Arizona State, Rice, and Oklahoma State (Rice and OSU advanced to the College World Series) did not help BYU qualify for post-season play in its final year in the WAC.
Highlights included winning series against San Jose St., and at New Mexico and UNLV, as well as winning one of three tight games at Hawaii and Fresno St. Cougar Coach Gary Pullins surpassed the 900 victory plateau mid-season and is now 913-462-6 (.663) in 23 years at BYU. Ryan Pond was named first team All-WAC and Gary Johnson was voted second-team All-WAC. Pond was among the nation's leaders during the season and ended the '99 campaign with 23 dingers.
Johnson had the team's longest hitting streak at 14 games mid-season and was drafted in the 19th round by the Anaheim Angles. He was named WAC Player of the Week in the final week of the regular season. Jeremy Thomas was the most reliable pitcher as he garnered seven saves.
BYU's road record in the WAC was among the best in the league, but its 6-8 record at home was the downfall. Aside from number one Rice, only BYU finished the season with a winning streak in the WAC at two games.
For the first time in years BYU finished with a record below .500 and its .325 batting average was below that of its opponents. The longest winning streak never exceeded three games.
The season started off with the first of two wood-bat series against Southern Colorado. Freshman first baseman David Jensen was named at WAC Player of the Week after the opening series with USC, having eight of 11 hits, scoring six times, and driving in nine runs. Jensen ended up leading the WAC with 23 doubles and was selected as a Freshman All-America by Collegiate Baseball.
No. 20 Washington bested BYU twice each by one run at the Southern Utah Chiropractor's Association Tournament which the Cougars co-hosted in St. George at Bruce Hurst Field. In that tourney BYU reliever Sean Noorda struck out 11 Mesa State batters.
Chris Circuit, who was hit by a school record 12 pitches during the year, brought a hitting streak into the season, but it was stopped at 13 games by Arizona State. No. 10 ASU gave BYU three shellackings, but they were the only ranked team to spank BYU. At No. 3 Rice the Cougars played twice within two runs of the defending champions. And at No. 28 Oklahoma State, BYU had another two-run loss.
The Cougars were in second place in the WAC after week two as they played No. 26 Hawaii. Jensen became only the second player to homer to that point at Hawaii and Nick Greene had two triples.
Shorstop Isaac Iorg made his debut in the games at UNLV after rebounding from a Christmas holiday injury. Once Iorg got in the flow, for weeks the freshman's batting average hovered above the school record .467 of his All-American Uncle Dane. His .464 average put him at number two in school annals ahead of Wally Joyner's .462 in 1983.
Curtis Rodriguez pitched the first complete game against UNLV in the Rebels' first 25 games.
The Cougars played 23 consecutive games on the road before opening at home and taking two of three games against San Jose State. For the 22nd time in Pullins' 23 years the Cougars won their home opener. Redshirt freshman Michael Davies' 10-game hitting streak came to an end during this time and his batting average had soared to .438.
By the end of March, Pond had hit 17 homers and he remained the WAC's home run king for the rest of the season. Shane Belliston hit BYU's only grand slam of the season as the Cougars closed March with a doubleheader sweep at Southern Utah.
Disaster struck BYU in April. Minutes before a non-conference game at Utah, Jensen suffered a finger injury which kept him out of the lineup for weeks and reliever Matt Rex had an emergency appendectomy. Weather claimed two games, the third game of the TCU series (snow) and the second non-conference game at Utah (rain).
And for the first time in over 40 years, BYU suffered a three-game sweep at home by a league foe (San Diego State). If not for Rob Itri's first pitch homer in the bottom of the final inning, the Cougars could have been swept in a three-game series at home to Southern Utah.
When the first NCAA rankings came out in April, Pond was ranked seventh nationally in homers. He went nearly a month before he broke the drought and homered at Oklahoma State, only the third time the Cougars had ventured East of the Rockies in non-WAC play during a regular season.
Pre-tornado rains shortened Micah Mangrum's two innings of perfect relief pitching as the Cougars fell 6-4 in six innings at Oklahoma State.
After the terrible April, the Cougars rebounded with Rodriguez throwing four no-hit innings at Fresno State where he threw 121 pitches in 8.1 innings in the 3-2 loss. The Cougars did win the finale at Fresno before the largest crowd of the season, 3,526, when Thomas started the game to earn the victory and Mangrum, a regular starter got his first save.
The attendance at Franklin Covey Field for the last of the non-conference BYU-Utah games was 3,421, the second-largest crowd ever for a Cougar-Ute baseball game. The Cougars beat Utah by identical 9-2 scores in both non-conference games before winning the WAC series against the Utes in the final week of the season.
Jensen takes a seven-game hitting streak into next season as the Cougars lose 14 lettermen, but return 23, including pitcher Jeff Stone, who was 11-1 prior to serving the mission to South Korea from which is is just returning.