Matt Milke got his third save of the season in a 9-6 upset at No. 22 Gonzaga. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
SPOKANE, Wash.—Juniors Adam Miller, Jaycob Brugman and Brock Whitney helped lead BYU baseball to a 9-6 upset Saturday afternoon over No. 22 Gonzaga.
Miller, who improved to 3-6 with the victory, was one out shy of a complete game and needed the relief of Matt Milke on the mound to seal the upset with the bases loaded.
BYU improved to 21-17 overall and 8-7 in the West Coast Conference, while Gonzaga is now 28-14-1 and 15-6. It was the fourth upset by BYU this season over ranked teams (beat No. 2 LSU and twice defeated No. 21 Cal Irvine).
"We showed a ton of character in the way we approached the game today," BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. "It would have been easy to pack it in, but our team came out with a lot of energy for this game. I can't say enough about Adam Miller's performance. He (Miller) had that 'Desmond Poulson attitude' today in that he wasn't going to let anybody beat him. If it weren't for his high pitch-count, I probably would have left him out there to finish the game. He was crisp, and I love to see that from Adam. He was ready to go today."
"It was a must-win game for us and I knew that," Miller said. "I felt my curve ball got stronger as the game went along. I just tried to pitch them inside and not let them get extended with all the lefties they had in their lineup."
The pitching duo of Miller and Milke, who recorded his third save, received plenty of help from the likes of Brugman, Whitney and several other teammates.
Adam Law produced BYU’s fourth consecutive single of the third inning to score Hayden Nielsen and Jacob Hannemann as BYU took a 2-0 lead. Brock Whitney hit a wind-aided three-run homer to left field, extending that lead to 5-0 in the third.
"Adam (Law) came up with a big hit to get us on the board," Littlewood said. "I loved our attitude coming out before the game. We talked about having a short memory and moving on to the next game. He (Gonzaga pitcher Arturo Reyes) threw his slider a bit too often, and I’m proud of our hitters for plugging away."
In the fifth Hannemann led off with a triple and scored off Trace Hansen’s single. Then Brugman popped a two-run homer to left field that appeared to glance off the glove of the Gonzaga outfielder, increasing BYU’s lead to 8-1. Brugman pounded a two-out homer over center, his second round-tripper of the day and seventh of the season, to put BYU up 9-5 in ninth.
"On a normal day it probably would have been a warning track out," Littlewood said of Brugman's first home run.
"To me this was a do-or-die win," Littlewood said in explaining the hopes of a WCC playoff spot. "One of the top four spots in our league is within our grasp now."
The Cougars next play on Tuesday night at Utah Valley University, before returning to WCC action, when a three-game series starts on Thursday at Loyola Marymount University.