David Clawson's solo homer in the nightcap of a doubleheader sweep over No. 27 LMU and Saint Mary's was among the celebrated highlights in Friday's action at the WCC Tournament. (Photo by Kyle Terada/Terada Photo)
STOCKTON, California (May 26, 2017)—Maverik Buffo and Riley Gates pitched BYU to a 5-4 upset over No. 27 Loyola Marymount on the heels of an 8-4 win over Saint Mary's College on Friday in the league tournament.
The Cougars (35-19) advanced to Saturday’s championship round of the West Coast Conference Tournament at Banner Island Ballpark to play No. 22 Gonzaga, needing to win another doubleheader for the automatic berth to the NCAA postseason. Friday’s win avenged a 3-2 loss to LMU, now 38-18 as it exits the tourney.
“I can't say enough about Mav (Maverik Buffo),” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “He was incredible and gave us exactly what we needed. He was aggressive and went after guys."
Buffo improved his record to 7-6, going eight and a third innings. He recorded a swinging strikeout in each of his first five innings, including a sixth and seventh looking for good measure in the fifth and sixth frames.
The junior hurler retired the Lions in order in each of the first five innings as well, aided by double plays in the second and third frames. Buffo kept his string of strikeouts each inning alive through the seventh inning when he recorded his eighth.
Buffo’s no-hitter disappeared in the sixth inning when Jimmy Hill knocked a deep leadoff double to centerfield. Hill was injured on the play and his pinch runner eventually scored LMU’s first run. Gates made his second relief appearance of the day and spelled Buffo with two outs remaining in the ninth frame to garner his third save of the season.
“I just wanted to take the fight to them,” Buffo said. “That's the mentality I had going out there. This is a great group of guys and I just wanted to do my job of fighting for them. This is huge. It's big momentum for us going in to tomorrow. I'm excited to see what it brings.”
Buffo got some early support, starting when Brennon Anderson got aboard with a leadoff walk in the first inning as the first three Cougar batters got on base. Anderson scored off a sacrifice fly by Keaton Kringlen for the first of three runs that inning.
Brock Hale’s double to left field extended his hitting streak to a dozen games and plated Daniel Schneemann. In addition, Tanner Chauncey scored from the hot corner after a routine ground ball rolled under the third baseman’s glove for a 3-0 lead.
Freshman catcher David Clawson smacked a one-out solo homer for a 4-0 lead in the second inning. Clawson would have had a one-out triple, but the high fly was ruled an error on the right fielder after the ball landed and he was stranded at third in the fourth.
“I can't be more proud of the guys, just for battling,” Littlewood said. “Today was a long day, and we're ready to come back tomorrow (Saturday). We can just throw the past out the window and just go battle and let the cards fall where they may. We have a bunch of guys who are fresh. We have to go out and win two games but we have the pitching to do that.”
The Cougars advanced to Friday evening’s game due to an 8-4 victory over Saint Mary’s College earlier in the day.
BYU got a four-home-run barrage from Bronson Larsen, Nate Favero and Hale and a six-plus inning pitching performance from Hayden Rogers (now 8-2) to eliminate the Gaels (37-20) from the tourney.
“The guys fought like crazy and gave themselves another chance tonight,” Littlewood said. “Bronson’s (Larsen) first home run allowed us to take a breath and settle in offensively. Hayden (Rogers) battled for six innings for us and gave us a chance to win.”
The Gaels struck early, taking advantage of pitching and catching miscues to set the table for Kevin Milam’s two-run double down the right field line in the first inning. Then BYU slowly got untracked.
Back-to-back hits from a Hale single and a two-run homer on the first pitch thrown to Larsen that he hammered over the fence in right field tied the score in the next frame. Saint Mary’s got consecutive two-out singles in the bottom of the second, but Rogers and Clawson combined for a foul-tip strikeout to end the threat.
Larsen swatted his second two-run dinger of day to the right field porch. Favero followed by going yard there too for a 5-2 advantage
Kringlen drew a key leadoff walk in the sixth inning to set the table for Hale’s first-pitch blast over the left field wall, providing a 7-2 cushion.
Saint Mary’s got three consecutive runners on board in the eighth after Keaton Cenatiempo replaced Rogers and Gael Joey Fiske hit a two-run single to narrow the gap to 7-4.
The Cougars picked up an insurance run in the ninth when Anderson led off with a walk and ended up scoring two batters later from Chauncey’s well-placed single to left field.
Prior to Friday, the Cougars had only won one game in three previous WCC Tournament appearances.