Jaycob Brugman picked up another outfield assist when he helped throw out a Portland runner at second base. (Photo by Jon Hardy/BYU)
PORTLAND, Ore.—Clutch pitching and defense late in the game helped BYU baseball secure a 10th-inning 7-4 victory Saturday afternoon over the University of Portland.
BYU (9-9) improves to 4-2 in the West Coast Conference battle for first place and several Cougars helped keep them there as they won the three-game series over the Pilots (14-5 overall, 1-2 WCC).
While three unearned runs in the 10th inning provided the BYU victory, the impetus started in the third inning when relief pitcher Desmond Poulson took the mound and promptly retired the Pilots in order. Poulson repeated that feat in the sixth and eighth innings. Among the seven Pilots fanned by Poulson were key strikeouts in the fifth, sixth and eighth frames.
While reliever Chris Howard got the win by virtue of throwing four pitches in two-thirds of the ninth inning and 5-foot-8 freshman Mason Marshall picked up his third save, Poulson’s pitching helped keep the score knotted at four-all for the final five innings of regulation.
“Our pitchers kept us close and right in the ball game,” said BYU coach Vance Law. “Our team has ground it out and they never give up, they weren’t going to give in as long as our pitcher was keeping us in the game.”
Three BYU defensive plays in the seventh and ninth innings extinguished Portland rallies.
The first came when right fielder Jaycob Brugman helped throw out Turner Gill at second as he tried to extend a single. Not to be outdone, two batters later teammate Stephen Wells made an over-the-shoulder catch to end the seventh with a runner on third base.
“Wells made an unbelievable play in center field,” said Law. “Then Tanner Chauncey made a heads-up play, knowing we couldn’t make the double play at first base.”
Freshman shortstop Chauncey touched second base for out number two off a slow roller, then faked to first before firing home to catch the Pilot runner in a ninth inning-ending pickle to complete one of three Cougar double plays.
That set up Austin Hall, who moved from short to center field, leading off the 10th by beating out a bunt single down the third base line, followed by a Wes Guenther walk. BYU then took a 6-4 lead off a wild throw by pitcher Owen Jones fielding Brock Whitney’s bunt. Whitney advanced around the horn and was later ruled safe at the plate off of Brugman’s sacrifice fly.
BYU’s next action is Tuesday, March 27, when it plays at Spring Mobile Ballpark in Salt Lake City at 6 p.m.MT against Utah in the first of three non-conference games with the Utes.