Hayden Nielsen went 2 for 3 and preserved the 10-9 victory with an acrobatic catch in the ninth. (Photo by Mark A Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah—Brock Whitney went 3 for 4 with 3 RBI to lead BYU to a 10-9 victory against Pepperdine Friday night at Larry H. Miller Field.
“I think you have to win the series and we have an opportunity tomorrow to sweep one of the top teams in the league and one of the top teams on the West Coast,” BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said. “I’m really proud of our guys for beating a quality, quality team. We have a chance tomorrow, and we can’t be satisfied with two wins.”
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Despite falling behind 6-2 in the top of the fifth, BYU (13-13, 2-3 West Coast Conference) pulled back into the game with a four-run sixth inning before locking down the Waves (14-11, 5-3 WCC) in the seventh.
Cougar shortstop Hayden Nielsen singled to right field in the bottom of the seventh. He stole second and scored after two wild pitches. Jacob Hannemann was intentionally walked and advanced to second on the wild pitch that scored Nielsen. Whitney then singled in his third RBI of the game to put BYU in the lead for good, 10-7.
Previously, with the bases loaded in the sixth, Hannemann singled to short, bringing in Jarrett Jarvis to cut the deficit to 7-5. A sacrifice fly by Whitney gave Trace Hansen a chance to grab home and bring the score within one. The Cougars snatched a tie at 7-all when Adam Law punched out another sacrifice fly to bring in Nielsen. In that same inning, Jaycob Brugman stole back the lead for BYU pushing Hannemann through to home on a single to right field.
BYU pitcher Mark Anderson earned the victory (2-1) pitching two strong innings to keep Pepperdine at bay. He pitched the Cougars out of trouble in the sixth, striking out one of the Waves’ batters with a runner on third and preventing a tie with a ground out.
Pepperdine put up a fight in the eighth, taking two runs before a pitching change put Derek Speigner on the mound. Speigner’s submarine pitching threw off the next batter, cutting off the Waves’ advance just as he had done the night before when he claimed victory number one.
Nielsen put up a defensive fight with an over-the-head basket catch for the first out of the ninth inning. A Pepperdine line drive to the second baseman gave the Waves a second out and Speigner recorded his first save of the year by inducing a game-ending ground out to Nielsen.
“[Andy] Isom said, ‘I don’t got it! I don’t got it!’” Nielsen said of the first out. “I stuck my glove out there and said a prayer. I asked Hannemann, ‘How did I catch it?’”
Hannemann hit a lead-off single and advanced to second on a wild pitch in the first frame. Whitney's single struck the bewildered pitcher with the ball crawling up his neck, sending Hannemann to third. Law singled in Hannemann, followed by the Pepperdine left fielder’s error that put Law on second and sent Whitney home. The two runs gave BYU a 2-1 lead.
In the second inning, the Waves tied it up at 2-2 on a ground out to second and gave Hutton Moyer the chance to run home. BYU catcher Jarvis prevented Pepperdine from retaking the lead, tagging Wave runner David Oppenheim out at home on a throw from second baseman Hansen.
Pepperdine scored four runs in the fifth off a two-run home run by Sam Meyer, an RBI triple and a bases-loaded walk for a 6-2 lead.
Hannemann, who went 3 for 3 with four runs scored, opened the bottom of the fifth with a triple to right field. Whitney singled him home and advanced to second on a shortstop throwing error. For the second night in a row, Brugman was robbed by the wall for a triple, scoring Whitney to narrow the Pepperdine lead to 6-4.
“We get down four runs and like our team has done all year long, there’s no quit,” Littlewood said. “We answered immediately, and that was key, to answer right when we got a chance to hit. That showed Pepperdine that these guys are here to play and we’re (Pepperdine) not going to just steamroll them. I thought that was a key inning.”
The final game of the triple header will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. at Larry H. Miller Field. Kovo 960 AM Radio will broadcast the game live.