Ryan Chambers begins his fourth year as BYU starter in the outfield, but now he will also appear on the mound as a closer. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- Veteran Patrick Wells moves to the middle of the pitching rotation as the BYU baseball team opens its season with a three-game series at No. 19 UC Irvine in California on Thursday.
Untested at the division one level, junior college transfers Dave Horlacher and Brandon Christiansen will start on the mound Thursday and Saturday, respectively, while senior southpaw Wells (7-5, 5.76 ERA last season) starts Friday's game. Game times are 6 p.m. (PST) for the Thursday and Friday games and 1 p.m. (PST) on Saturday.
The Cougars (28-30 last season) will open the season against the UCI Anteaters (5-1) fresh off a three-game sweep of No. 8 Washington.
BYU has enjoyed the opportunity to practice outside more than normal this preseason due to uncharacteristically warm weather. BYU head coach Vance Law says that the extra outdoor practice should help the Cougars this year.
"We feel very fortunate to practice outside so many times," Law said. "That's one excuse we won't have this year."
Along with Wells, the Cougars return five of their top six hitters headlined by Preseason All-Mountain West Conference picks Kory Knell, Ben Saylor and Brandon Taylor. Law believes this team could be one of the best-hitting squads he's had at BYU.
"We feel very prepared and think we will be a very good hitting team," said Law.
Links to listen to the BYU-UCI games can be found on www.byucougars.com.
A multi-page release can be found by downloading the PDF file at the top of this story, which gives a detailed analysis of the Cougars.
After the bus ride to California, the Cougars return home to prepare for a three-game series at San Jose State the following week.