Brock Whitney scored the game-winning run after getting aboard on a sky-high double that landed in short right field in the 9-8 win at Utah. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
SALT LAKE CITY–Pitching, defense and timely hitting helped BYU's baseball team claim a 9-8 victory over Utah Tuesday at Spring Mobile Ballpark in the first of three non-conference games.
BYU (10-9) rode the coattails of Mason Marshall, the reigning West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Week, who slammed the door on Utah (7-16).
Marshall picked up his fourth save, striking out leadoff batter Gavin Green, who fouled off six pitches in a full count to lead off the ninth. The 5-foot-8 freshman induced pinch hitter Tyson Gonzales to ground out to him for the final out.
Marshall received two other big defensive plays among the final five batters of the game. With two out in the eighth and Utes on the corners, Adam Law dove to field Jo Jo Sharrar’s belt up the middle and tossed to shortstop Tanner Chauncey at second to end that inning. In the ninth with one out, Chauncey made a clean field for out number two.
“Our defense really saved some runs,” said BYU coach Vance Law. (Wes) Guenther blocked a couple of balls at the plate, Adam (Law) made a diving stop in the eighth inning and in the ninth Chauncey stayed right there and fielded a rocket.”
Add to those plays a couple of pegs at the plate by BYU right fielder Jaycob Brugman in the second and fourth innings. Brugman threw out Ryan Cooperstone to end Utah’s four-run second inning and he added his fourth assist of the season to close the two-run fourth when he and catcher Wes Guenther nailed Shaun Cooper to complete a double play.
“We made some great plays when they had runners in scoring position to shut them down,” said Coach Law. “We took advantage of some of their mistakes.”
One of those mistakes closed the seventh inning when a Ute runner was caught napping off second base, resulting in BYU’s second double play of the night.
Then there was the BYU hitting led by Brugman, Chauncey and Kelton Caldwell, who each had a pair of RBI. Brugman ended up with the game-winning RBI with his shallow, high-fly single to left field to score Brock Whitney, who had gotten aboard on a sky-high double that landed in short right field in eighth frame.
“We put together a complete game and it was nice to get some offense going,” said BYU left fielder Caldwell, whose two-run triple in the fifth tied the game at 6-6.
“We were aggressive and ran the bases well,” said Coach Law. “Hopefully this will be the start of a big streak. We have been underachieving offensively. We have too good of hitters to not be scoring more runs
“It’s always nice to beat the Utes, it’s one of our goals every year. It helps in recruiting, it helps our fans and it’s a good friendly rivalry. Bill (Kinneberg) and I are committed to make it happen. We have four games scheduled for next year.”
The Cougars take a leg up in the baseball portion of the Deseret First Duel, which continues next Tuesday when the two teams meet again in Salt Lake City. In the interim, BYU has a three-game series at Nevada starting Thursday.
Meanwhile the injury-decimated Utes, who committed five errors on the night, are now winless in two starts on their home field with a three-game series against No. 6 UCLA next on tap this Friday.