Bronson Larsen touches home plate after a home run against UC Santa Barbara on Saturday. BYU won 14-8. (Photo by BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – Seven runs in the fifth inning put BYU baseball ahead for good as it beat UC Santa Barbara in the finale of a four-game series on Saturday at Miller Park.
"This team has a lot of character, there's no doubt about that," BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said. "When we got down four, the feel in the dugout wasn't like we were down four. We were relaxed and knew we had nine chances to score some runs. The way we came out and swung the bats proved that."
With the win, the Cougars (7-7) took the overall series against the Gauchos (5-10) 3-1 and took their record to .500 for the first time since their opening weekend.
Three walks, two hits and a wild pitch gave way to four runs in the top of the first inning for the Gauchos.
UCSB manufactured a run in the second inning with an error, a single and a fielder’s choice to lead 5-0. Bo Burrup took over for starter Kendall Motes with no outs and a runner on.
Bronson Larsen launched his second home run of the series in the bottom of the second to plate himself and Keaton Kringlen, who had reached on an error.
The Gauchos went up 6-2 on Tommy Jew’s solo home run in the top of the third inning.
BYU got two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning with back-to-back doubles from Daniel Schneemann and Brock Hale, and a Larsen single to cut the deficit to 6-4. A double play ended the inning when Colton Shaver was nabbed at second and called for interference on the throw to first. Hale's double extended his hitting streak to 15 games.
The Cougars’ seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning came on seven hits, bookended by David Clawson’s double and Nate Favero’s two-run single. BYU batted around to lead 11-6.
UCSB got one across on Burrup to trail 11-7 in the top of the sixth inning, but the big lefty was able to finish the inning without any more damage. He threw five innings in relief, allowing five hits and two earned runs.
Aaron Cross took the mound for BYU in the seventh inning and set the Gauchos down in order.
In the bottom of the seventh, Anderson notched his 12th hit of the series to plate two more Cougars for a 13-7 lead. An inning later, Shaver’s sacrifice fly brought home BYU’s final run.
Dempsey Grover provided UCSB's last blow with a solo shot over the scoreboard in left field. Left fielder Kringlen laid out for diving catch in foul territory for the final out of the game. Cross finished with three innings pitched and just one run allowed on one hit to pick up BYU's first save of the season.
The Cougars play again at Miller Park on Tuesday, March 14 at 6 p.m. MDT against New Mexico State. They’ll follow that with a weekend home series against Connecticut.