Mousser, Itri Secure 3-2 Defeat of AFA

PROVO -- Pitcher Jeff Mousser and No. 5 hitter Rob Itri combined at the right times Thursday night to lift BYU to a 3-2 victory over the Air Force Academy.

Mousser threw 122 pitches in just over eight innings to earn the victory as closer Tyler Dabo picked up his second save of the season. Itri's clutch sixth-inning double drove in two runs to give BYU a 2-1 lead at Larry H. Miller field before 1,258 fans.

Itri's hit was only the fifth given up out of seven allowed by AFA ace Matt Kaercher, who was fresh off being named the Mountain West Conference Pitcher of the Week. Kaercher nibbled at the corners and kept BYU hitless in the first two innings and in the fourth, fifth and eighth innings.

Kevin Bills beat out a bare-handed fielding throw by Nick Liegl in the third inning for BYU's first hit of the game. AFA had taken a 1-0 lead in the first inning when lead-off batter Adam Howes singled up the middle, stole second and scored off Josh Phifer's single up the middle again.

Mousser, however, contained the Falcons, registering six of his 10 strikeouts in the game in the first three innings. He struck out three in the third to foil Howes' lead-off walk and second stolen base. Mousser had earlier picked off Phifer in the first to stop that AFA rally.

"All of my pitches were working and I felt like I could get ahead of batters," said Mousser, who improved to 7-3. "They are aggressive batters and I was able to keep them off balance. The game was tight and that kept me in the game and made me work harder."

Mousser got the needed runs from his teammates in the sixth. Carson got on board when he was beaned by Kaercher.

"He (Matt) took a Mohammed Ali to the head," said BYU Coach Vance Law. "He staggered, but didn't go down." The hit by pitch gave Carson the new BYU career record with 27.

With Carson on base, Dave Jensen drove his second hard shot of the game to draw the AFA first baseman out of position and he beat out the single. With two on, Itri drove Kaercher's second pitch to left center to score Carson and a chugging Jensen.

"Because Dave was running hard and didn't stop, I was able to send him home when I saw they missed their cutoff read," said Law.

Law had seen a bases loaded situation disappear in the third without scoring any runs when AFA tagged Doug Jackson out at second off Carson's fielder's choice.

Jackson was the subject of part of the seventh-inning controversy when he out-raced a hit to second base, causing AFA Coach Reed Peters to protest. Peters followed the first base official clear out to right field as he was tossed from the game.

With men on the corners in Jackson and Lars Birkeland, who led off the inning with a single, Cameron Coughlan's sacrifice fly to center scored what ended up being the game-winning run.

More controversy errupted in the eighth when Liegel was ruled out on a double play to end the inning based on Howes' hard slide to second.

AFA rallied in the ninth when Dabo came in relief with one out and one on, as Mousser hit Phifer with an errant pitch. Dabo fanned his first batter, then gave up a single to Bowie Frost and an infield single to Steve Winters to allow AFA's second run.

The Cougars, now 17-23-1 overall and 10-9 for second place in the MWC, broke a four-game losing streak thanks to Mousser.

"His strike ratio was good and he had an effective combo with his curve and slider," said BYU Pitching Coach Mike Karpel of Mousser. "By the sixth inning his changeup was working, too."

Ryan Adams, 3-5, gets the nod to follow Mousser as the Cougar starter for Friday against the Falcons, now 21-22 and 8-11, in the game which starts at 7 p.m.

Air Force Falcons           AB  R  H BI       Brigham Young Univ.         AB  R  H BI

--------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------

HOWES, Adam 1b............. 3 1 1 0 JACKSON, Doug cf........... 4 0 2 0

SHOCKLEY, Tony rf.......... 4 0 0 0 COUGHLAN, Cameron dh....... 3 0 0 1

PHIFER, Josh lf............ 3 1 1 1 CARSON, Matt rf............ 3 1 0 0

KASEL, Derck dh............ 4 0 0 0 JENSEN, Dave 1b............ 4 1 1 0

FROST, Bowie 3b............ 4 0 1 0 ITRI, Rob 2b............... 4 0 1 2

ARNETT, Rob pr............ 0 0 0 0 WIENS, Ranger ss........... 4 0 0 0

WINTERS, Steve 2b.......... 4 0 2 1 BILLS, Kevin 3b............ 3 0 1 0

WALTER, Colton pr......... 0 0 0 0 THURGOOD, Ryan 3b......... 0 0 0 0

PETRO, Daniel c............ 4 0 0 0 BIRKELAND, Lars c.......... 3 1 2 0

PROUTY, Nelson ss.......... 2 0 1 0 YI, Han lf................. 2 0 0 0

PARAMORE, Price ph........ 1 0 0 0 MOUSSER, Jeff p............ 0 0 0 0

MEARS, Scott ss........... 0 0 0 0 DABO, Tyler p............. 0 0 0 0

LIEGL, Nick cf............. 3 0 1 0

KAERCHER, Matt p........... 0 0 0 0

Totals..................... 32 2 7 2 Totals..................... 30 3 7 3

Score by Innings R H E

-------------------------------------------

Air Force Falcons... 100 000 001 - 2 7 0

Brigham Young Univ.. 000 002 10X - 3 7 1

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E - ITRI. DP - BYU Cougars 1. LOB - AF 5; BYU Cougars 6. 2B - ITRI. HBP - PHIFER;

CARSON M.. SF - COUGHLAN. SB - HOWES 2. CS - PROUTY.

Air Force Falcons IP H R ER BB SO Brigham Young Univ. IP H R ER BB SO

------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------

KAERCHER, Matt ..... 8.0 7 3 3 1 5 MOUSSER, Jeff ...... 8.1 5 2 2 1 10

DABO, Tyler ........ 0.2 2 0 0 0 1

Win - MOUSSER (7-3). Loss - KAERCHER (6-7). Save - DABO (2).

WP - DABO. HBP - by KAERCHER (CARSON M.); by MOUSSER (PHIFER); by KAERCHER (CARSON M.);

by MOUSSER (PHIFER). PB - PETRO.

Strikeouts - SHOCKLEY 2; PHIFER; KASEL, Derck 2; FROST; WINTERS; PETRO 2; PARAMORE;

LIEGL; JENSEN 2; WIENS; BILLS; YI. Walks - HOWES; YI.

Umpires - HP: Mike Andrews 1B: Bruce Bayne 3B: Kevin Daugherty

Start: 7:02 Time: 2:29 Attendance: 1258