Tigers out-claw Cougars, 11-7

Kelton Caldwell banged two homers both past the frontage road in an 11-7 loss in Orem against Pacific on Saturday. (Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

OREM, Utah — Too big of a deficit could not be overcome Saturday afternoon as Pacific defeated host BYU baseball, 11-7, at Brent Brown Ballpark.

The University of the Pacific (14-19 overall and 5-7 in the West Coast Conference) amassed a 9-0 lead by the third inning over BYU (12-21, 4-8) before the Cougars started to claw back.

“We didn’t have the mindset that the game was over,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said.  ”We showed a little character coming back. We had them on the ropes, but you can only get so many big two-out hits.”

The Tigers led off with a Tyler Sullivan home run and a Taylor Murphy triple which led to their second run in building a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Then in the third inning, Pacific loaded the bases after starting pitcher Jeff Barker failed to cover first base to complete an inning-ending double play. The Tigers loaded the bases and then rattled off six of its seven runs that frame for that 9-0 lead.

“We came out ready, but for some reason Jeff (Barker) wasn’t on and that mental error (not covering first) cost him,” Littlewood said.

Meanwhile after Barker was relieved on the mound, BYU’s relievers held the Tigers scoreless.

“We got exactly what we needed from those guys (our relievers),” Littlewood said. “I was happy with our approach (hitting). Usually that is enough to get over the hump.”

BYU got its first run of the game in the bottom of the third when Dillon Robinson doubled to the fence off the right fielder’s glove to score Hayden Nielsen who led off with a double.

In the fifth inning, BYU mounted its best barrage when Brennon Lund hit the first of consecutive singles, followed by Robinson and Brock Whitney. Lund scored, and then Kelton Caldwell launched the first pitch, a slider, over the frontage road before the freeway on-ramp. That smash closed the gap to 9-5.

Repeat and reload Caldwell in the seventh on his fifth dinger of the season, to score Whitney. Caldwell tattooed a changeup again past the frontage road beyond right field, narrowing the margin to 9-7.

The finale of the league series with Pacific was played at Utah Valley University due to athletic department policy to not play on the BYU campus during church General Conference weekend.

The blue Cougars take a non-conference break on Tuesday night when they play the red Cougars of Washington State in a game away from home at Pasco, Wash. BYU returns to WCC play on Thursday starting a three-game series at Pepperdine.

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