Reverse some of BYU's one-run games and the 2003 season becomes a different story.
The 30-22 overall record would have been better if any of the 11 one-run losses had turned BYU's way in a season it finished as predicted, second place in the Mountain West Conference with a 18-12 mark. The Cougars were third-seeded in the MWC Tournament and finished third in the tourney, beating host New Mexico and Utah, both by scores of 7-6 and losing a pair to San Diego State.
"We had a talented team, but we underachieved," said BYU Coach Vance Law of his team which won 21 of its final 29 games in his third season at the helm. The Cougars were among the nation's leaders in batting average (.330) and runs scored (8.6), but came up short in the win-loss column.
Five of those one-run losses turned to victories would have also helped pitcher Paul Jacinto's win-loss record improve from 10-5, including a 1-0 loss to Northwestern in his complete-game, three-hitter.
Nevertheless, Jacinto was named MWC Pitcher of the Year, going 9-1 in league action with a record-setting .222 opposing batting average. The junior hurler won 10 of his last 11 outings after he got off to an 0-4 start. His 7-6 victory over host New Mexico in the opening round of the MWC Tournament was one of six one-run victories for the Cougars. He was named MWC Pitcher of the Week for his complete-game, one-hit outing against UNLV in Provo for a 3-1 victory.
Joining Jacinto for first-team all-conference honors was senior Doug Jackson who established league and school career records with his 24 triples. Jackson set MWC-games-only records for seniors in batting average, on base percentage, runs scored, hits, triples, total bases, walks and tied his MWC all-games record with 8 triples. He was among the national leaders in triples for 2003 and led the Cougars with 71 runs scored.
Fellow Hawaiian Kainoa Obrey joined Jackson as one of the NCAA's leaders. Obrey's 24 doubles was second on the team to Ranger Wiens' 25 two baggers. Obrey, a third baseman, was the only Cougar drafted in 2003 by the pro's, a 13th-round selection by the St. Louis Cardinals. He led the team with 65 RBI.
Shortstop Wiens was another player who was among the NCAA leaders, doing this in two categories. Wiens finished with a batting average of .405 as it hovered over .400 for the latter part of the season, aided by his doubles production. Wiens, who led the team with 89 hits, was voted second team All-MWC and recorded many defensive gems.
Another second-team All-MWC selection was left-handed freshman pitcher Ken Gravley. Gravley, 4-2, was BYU's final starter in three-game series, throwing a three-hitter in a 10-1 victory over Gonzaga. He helped BYU win five of its six one-run games and was the victim in three of its 11 one-run losses. One of his clutch performances came in the MWC Tournament at Albuquerque when he faced only one New Mexico batter. Gravley struck him out looking on the only three pitches he threw with one out and a man on second in a game tied at 6-6 in the ninth.
Centerfielder Brock Jacobsen was BYU's only all-tournament selection in that MWC Tourney, aided by his first-pitch home run, a 435-foot game-breaking smash to center field. He finished second behind Wiens (21-28) with 20 of 23 stolen bases. His 10 homers were second to Obrey and Ryan Chambers who each belted 11 dingers.
Chambers was MWC Player of the Week due to his play in the final series against Utah. First baseman Jake Stubblefield was MWC Player of the Week for his play against Utah in the first series. The Cougars swept the rival Utes in all seven games, including a 7-6 victory on television in Provo. The Cougars drew a league-home best of 2,512 fans the night before against the Utes. BYU totaled 22,460 fans at Miller Park for an average of 1,247 in 18 home contests, but two of those games were doubleheaders forced because of rain.
Rain also prevented BYU from playing two of its scheduled games in Arizona at the tournament sponsored by the Oakland A's.
The Cougars benefited from three grand slams during the season. Stubblefield hit one in a 17-2 victory over Air Force in Provo, Kevin Bills drilled one in the 13-2 victory over Southern Utah and Wade Vest got one in the 25-4 victory at Air Force. Chambers hit an inside-the-park home run in a 6-5 victory over New Mexico in Provo.
For a brief moment the season started off well at Arizona as Jeff Mousser was named the MWC Pitcher of the Week when he struck out nine in 6.1 innings as the Cougars defeated the Wildcats, 6-3, in the season opener for both teams. Arizona was one of three teams the Cougars played who advanced to NCAA post-season play (Arizona State, UNLV). Mousser was victim of a 2-1, three-hit complete-game loss to San Diego State in Provo.
Another clutch pitching performance came from Michel Bergeron (6-3 with two of BYU's four saves) at TCU when he relieved Mousser and retired the Horned Frogs with the bases loaded for a 7-6 victory. The next night BYU fell victim to TCU in a 10-inning 7-6 loss. The Cougars suffered a 4-3 loss in 10 innings at San Diego State in the final game of that series.
Two players opted for medical redshirts after trying to make a go of the season, pitcher Scott Koffman and outfielder Kory Knell. Jacobsen ended up signing as a free agent with the Texas Rangers. Mousser (5-7, 6.40) transferred to Arizona State to play in his hometown.