(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah—BYU saw déjà vu all over again in a day of ninth-inning walk-offs by both the baseball and softball teams Thursday.
Baseball defeated Santa Clara 8-6 with a walk-off grand slam in the ninth inning with two outs at Larry H. Miller Field. Softball preceded the baseball victory with a walk-off double to defeat Mississippi State 4-3 in the ninth in the first round of NCAA Regionals at Eugene, Ore.
With the bases loaded, Jaycob Brugman slammed a homer over the centerfield wall.
“It felt so good,” Brugman said. “I knew three teammates were on base, so a base hit up the middle was all we needed. I was just looking for a short, quick swing up the middle. It was a fast ball tailing away on a 2-2 count. I spread my stance and just wanted to play pepper so I could hit it up the middle.
“I didn’t know where it was going, so I just started running. I thought the ball hit the wall, but at that point I was at second already. I saw coach Law pointing up and when I came around third, I realized it was a walk-off.”
“We’ll take the win any way we can,” head coach Vance Law said. “Santa Clara is a scrappy bunch of guys that played hard and played the full nine innings. We had an opportunity early in the ball game to score a run or two. We’re trying to make our own breaks, go out and battle and let the chips fall as they may.
“I told him (Brugman), ‘Hey, just a nice, easy base hit.’ When the ball flew up, my hope was that it would just get down somewhere so that we could get (Stephen) Wells in on a double. That’s a thrill for a young man to have a walk-off grand slam and it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving young man.”
Pitcher James Lengal picked up the win for a 1-2 season record while Paul Twining took the loss (5-6).
BYU improves to 20-24 on the season, 8-11 in West Coast Conference play, while Santa Clara falls to 24-24 (3-16 WCC).
SCU’s Zach Looney batted in the first run of the night, sending Pat Stover home to put SCU ahead 1-0 at the top of the second. BYU responded with three of its own runs in the bottom of the second. Austin Hall tagged home on a Brock Whitney single before Alex Wolfe took home on a balk. To finish off the inning and secure a 3-1 Cougar lead, Whitney ran in on Adam Law’s single to left field.
SCU stormed back in the top of the fourth with the first home run of the game hit just fair of the foul line by Matt Ozanne.
At the top of the fifth inning with one out, SCU had a runner on first with Evan Peters up to bat. Peters fouled out, caught by first baseman Whitney who threw the ball to second baseman Law at first to tag out Bronco Greg Harsis for an inning-ending double play.
The sixth inning proved rough for BYU pitcher Desmond Poulson whose fluke error paved the way for SCU’s Looney and Ozanne time to score. Earlier in the inning Bronco Lucas Herbst tagged home to tie up the game and Stover scored to put SCU ahead.
BYU tried to get back in the game with its first home run of the year at home by Tanner Chauncey, but couldn’t rally after the homer to leave the inning down 6-4. That home run helped BYU escape the WCC record book. With only one home run in WCC play prior to the SCU game, BYU was on track to tie the record for lowest number of home runs in as season.
Great defensive plays from both teams highlighted the seventh inning. At the top of the inning, an SCU fly to right field was caught by Brugman, who didn’t have time to stop his full-speed running and hit the wall. SCU had a fortunate inning-ending double play on defense, with Cougar Wells lining out to the pitcher who wheeled and caught Whitney off second.
BYU faces Santa Clara Friday in the second game of the weekend tripleheader at 6 p.m. at Miller Park.