Bret Lopez homered twice in a 15-7 victory at Utah Valley University. (Photo by Mark A Philbrick/BYU Photo)
OREM, Utah—Bret Lopez hit two home runs, including a momentum-changer in the sixth inning, to lead BYU to a 15-7 victory Tuesday over host Utah Valley University.
That momentum shifted to BYU, now 22-17 overall, in the sixth inning with UVU leading 6-4. That is when Lopez led off with his second homer, a towering blast to the second fence in left field. Pinch hitter Brennon Anderson then singled and stole second when he beat a pickoff attempt and an errant throw, which advanced him to third.
“Our guys are understanding what type of hitters they are and not trying to do too much,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “Our motto is ‘play for one and see what happens.’ We don’t try to hit the home runs like Bret did—he had a great night tonight.
“Every guy had a good at bat and were tough outs,” Littlewood said of his team's win in front of a crowd of 5,133 at Brent Brown Ballpark. “The guy in front of you gives you confidence; it’s weird how that works in baseball.”
BYU continued to score in the sixth when Nielsen singled and scored on a double to the left field corner by Trace Hansen to give the Cougars a 7-6 lead. Hansen scored off Jaycob Brugman’s double to left, causing UVU to change pitchers. The inning appeared over when Whitney tagged Kyle Valgardson’s pitch to deep center, but Jordy Hart dropped what would have been the third out as BYU scored two more runs for a 10-6 advantage.
“We were falling into a lull and that really got us going,” Lopez said. “We are swinging the bat really well right now as a team. I have been seeing the ball better the last few weeks. We are peaking at the right time.”
In the first inning Brock Whitney belted a two-out, two-run double in the left-center gap to score Adam Law, who had walked the first of four times in the game, and Brugman, who had singled. Whitney then scored when Lopez homered over the top of the center field fence, giving the Cougars a 4-0 lead.
UVU countered in the bottom of the first when Law and shortstop Hayden Nielsen tried to field a pop up around the roving base umpire. That miscue came back to haunt BYU with an error on the next play and a double by Kai Hatch. The Wolverines went on to score three runs in the first frame.
“In the top of the first I felt great and in the bottom of the first I felt horrible,” Littlewood said. “We had a quiet confidence about us tonight. I’m most happy with our offense, we really swung the bats well.”
The Wolverines grabbed leads of 5-4 in the fourth and 6-4 in the fifth.
UVU used six different pitchers in each of the first six innings. Ryan Evans was tagged for a pair of runs to tie the game, 6-6, and ended up taking the loss, while Mark Anderson improved his record to 4-1 in relief for the Cougars.
Brugman got his team-leading eighth homer on a two-run blast in the three-run eighth inning.
BYU next plays at Loyola Marymount in three-game series starting Thursday in Los Angeles.