Inaugurating Mountain West Conference baseball will be the honor for BYU on Thursday at UNLV in a 3 p.m. PDT start.
The Cougars, now 9-10, have a three-game series at UNLV, who sports a 6-15 record heading into league action. The other four MWC baseball schools start conference action on Friday.
Starting on the mound Thursday for BYU will be sophomore lefthander Jeff Stone ( 3-2, 9.53). Starting on Friday is senior Micah Mangrum (3-2, 3.49), followed by lefty transfer James Ray (1-2, 6.14) on Saturday.
The games on Friday and Saturday will be broadcast live locally for the first time this season on KSRR Radio (1400 AM) at 4 p.m. and 2 p.m. MDT with Brent Norton calling the play-by-play.
"These games set the tone for the rest of our conference season," says first-year BYU Coach Vance Law. "Our goal is to win every series. Even though it sounds trite, we need to take it game-by-game. We used the pre-season as an evaluation and worked in as many players as possible. We will be more selective now on making changes. We weren't ready to play in our first game at Southern Utah, so we are addressing that issue. We battled back well in our third game at SUU, but it was just one of those chances that get away. "
The Cougars split a pair of doubleheaders at Southern Utah where Aaron Whitley continued his nine-game hitting streak to lead the team. Whitley tied a school record by hitting two triples in the 13-3 victory in which he also hit a lead-off home run in the third inning. Whitley currently leads the team with a .469 batting average.
Last week Stanford transfer Nick Day returned to action after missing seven games with the Cougars. Day, a senior from Las Vegas' Green Valley High, has never played a college game in his hometown until this week. Day is hitting .438 and teammate Craig Peterson is hitting .467. The Cougars are hitting .318 as a team.
The Cougars have only had one outside practice all season, en route to Arizona State they practiced in Las Vegas. UNLV won its final game last week, 4-3, at No. 8 Clemson after dropping the first two of that series. Earlier this season the Rebels upset then No. 2-ranked UCLA, 21-5.
Following the UNLV series BYU is scheduled to open its home season next week on March 17 in a three-game series with the Air Force Academy.