UC Riverside Hosts Three-Game Series

For the first time ever, the Cougars will play a three-game series against UC Riverside in Riverside, Calif., beginning Thursday.

BYU (2-6) is 9-9 all-time against the Highlanders, but have never had a three-game set against the Division 1, Big West Conference team.

The Cougars plan to start Nathan Hess (0-1, 2.35) in Thursday's 3 p.m. (PST) game. Hess is coming off his first save in Tuesday's 11-10 win over Santa Clara. Patrick Wells (1-1, 2.57), the reining MWC Pitcher of the Week, will most likely start in Friday's 3 p.m. (PST) game and Paul Jacinto (0-3, 7.27) looks to get the nod in Saturday's 1 p.m. (PST) game.

Wells was named MWC Pitcher of the Week after throwing a complete game 3-1 victory over Nevada in the Pacific Invitational. His win was the first of the year for the Cougars who lost 9-5 to St. Mary's and 5-4 to tournament host Pacific. The Cougars also split a pair of games against Santa Clara, losing 9-3 on Monday but coming back to win 11-10 on Tuesday. Brandon Taylor broke out of a 3-for-32 slump in Tuesday's win, belting two home runs and a two-run double.

Leading the Cougars in hitting is Rob Itri with a .346 average. He has a four-game hitting streak going into Thursday's game behind Ben Saylor who has hit safely in all eight games.

The Highlanders, like BYU, have struggled early in the season, posting a 1-7 record. They are coming off a 5-4 loss to Loyola Marymount on Tuesday.

Probable starters for UC Riverside are AJ Shappi (0-0, 2.57) on Thursday, John Martinez (1-0, 6.94) on Friday and Haley Winter (12.00, 0-1) on Saturday. Third baseman Tony Festa leads the team in hitting with a .545 average, 2 home runs and 10 RBI. Nick Salotti and Brett Bigler both have .421 batting averages. The highlanders were ranked No. 34 in Collegiate Baseball's preseason poll. UC Riverside is in a six-game losing streak headed into Thursday's game.

None of the three games are available for live stats or web casts. Following the UC Riverside series, the Cougars return home before heading to a three-game series against San Jose State in San Jose, Calif.

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