Hayden Nielsen was in on two of BYU's three double plays in a 5-4 10-inning loss at Utah. (Photo by Mark A Philbrick/BYU Photo)
SALT LAKE CITY—Utah had BYU’s number Tuesday night as it recorded a 5-4 victory in a 10-inning donnybrook at Spring Mobile Ballpark.
Utah (12-10) erased a 4-1 BYU (11-13) lead in the ninth inning to force an extra inning. TJ Bennett laced a game-winning single to left-center field in the 10th, capping a competitive night for the Ute first baseman.
In the fifth inning the Arizona junior scored Utah’s initial run in the well-contested battle, the first of four Deseret Duel games between the two baseball teams. And Bennett turned a crucial double play the next inning.
Adam Law hit the first of his school-record tying two triples to open the sixth to start another Cougar scoring threat. Teammate Jaycob Brugman advanced to second on a wild pitch after making it to first following striking out. Bennett then turned a double play when he caught a deep foul ball behind first base and he threw out Law at home in the sixth.
BYU, the nation’s leading team in turning double plays, got out of the first-inning jam with a 4-6-3 combo and it was added upon with an L-4-3 inning-ender in the third and a 3-6-4 frame-closer in the fifth.
Cougar Kelton Caldwell tied the game at one-all in the ninth with a lead-off home run down the right field line on an 0-1 count. Law put BYU up 4-1 with a two-run triple in the ninth to set up closer James Lengal for the potential save.
“With a three-run lead, 99 times out of 100 when we send James (Lengal) out there he’s going to get it done,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “We can’t give good teams chances like that. They made us pay tonight. I knew they weren’t going to roll over.”
In addition to the Cougar double plays, BYU had other good moments, but left runners in scoring position in the first, second, sixth and 10th innings.
Brugman made a super running over-the-shoulder catch in the fourth.
BYU shortstop Hayden Nielsen knocked a two-out double to center field, but was stranded when Jacob Hannemann struck out in the seventh.
BYU returned the favor in the bottom of the seventh when the Utes advanced Zach Jones to third. However, Cougar relievers Derek Speigner, Daniel Welch and Matt Milke each took a turn recording an out via sacrifice, groundout and strike out.
“It’s very frustrating,” Littlewood said. “We make decisions and sometimes it backfires. It’s execution and we don’t have any margin for error.”
The Cougars now return to league play when they host Pepperdine in a three-game series which starts Thursday at 6 p.m. MDT.