Chris Howard was one of five BYU pitchers providing valuable innings in a 6-4 victory over Utah Valley University on Tuesday. (Photo by BYU Photo)
OREM —Bret Lopez belted a two-run homer in the sixth inning to pave the way Tuesday night as BYU defeated Utah Valley University 6-4 at Brent Brown Ballpark.
The designated hitter’s home run, his first of the season, to left field scored fellow senior Kelton Caldwell in the sixth for a 6-3 lead. That homer extended his hitting streak to five games.
“Bret did the same thing here last year,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. ”He is one of those guys you expect to get a big hit. He is a calming influence and will get it done for you.”
The two teams sparred the first four innings, BYU taking a 2-0 lead in the first, with UVU tying it in the bottom of that frame.
The Cougars, now 17-25, took a 3-2 lead in the second, but the Wolverines (19-23) tied it in the bottom of that inning. BYU’s Dillon Robinson reinjured his ankle on the swing of his at bat that inning and is doubtful for the weekend.
Cougar freshman Brennon Lund led off the fifth with a triple past the diving right fielder and scored on a sacrifice fly by Eric Urry to retake the lead at 4-3.
James Lengal took over for eventual winning pitcher Hayden Rogers (2-2) on the mound and got two outs, but UVU ended up with runners on the corners. Then lefty Chris Howard replaced Lengal and walked his first batter to load the bases before striking out cleanup batter Mark Krueger on three straight pitches to end the inning.
Krueger did get aboard in the ninth with a two-out single as the Wolverines loaded the bases while reliever Brandon Kinser was working on his fifth save of the season. On full count, Kinser prevailed, striking out pinch-hitter Beau Kallas swinging.
“Quirky things happen here,” Littlewood said in reference to the rivalry games. “I don’t know what it is, it is never easy for either team and you just hope you get the last at bat of the game. To see live pitching was good, and it was good to get the win.”
The BYU victory before 4,122 fans avenged an 8-3 loss earlier this season to UVU in Provo.
The Cougars next play Thursday at 6 p.m. MDT, when they start a three-game series in a return to league play against Gonzaga.