Hayden Nielsen was stranded twice as the Cougars left 14 runners on base in a 4-3 loss Friday to Gonzaga. (Photo by BYU Photo/Mark Philbrick)
PROVO, Utah – Despite big hitting performances from Brock Whitney
and Bret Lopez
, BYU baseball stranded runners on base as it fell to Gonzaga, 4-3, in the second game of the West Coast Conference series, Friday night at Larry H. Miller Field.
The Cougars (18-26) fell to 8-12 in WCC play as the third place Bulldogs (19-25) improved to 14-9 in the conference.
"We left a lot out there,” BYU head coach Mike Littlewood
said. “More than anything, there were a lot of emotions and frustrations, but it's a really disappointing loss in a game we needed to win."
The first baseman Whitney led the hitting for BYU, going 4-for-5 including a double. Lopez, the designated hitter, had a double of his own as he hit 3-for-5 with an RBI while sophomore Hayden Nielsen
also chipped in with a 2-for-4 night at the plate.
"We had a couple chances, but every time we hit it well, it seemed like there was somebody there to catch it," Whitney said. "That's just how baseball is sometimes. Sometimes it's going your way and sometimes it's not."
The Cougars had their opportunities but left 14 runners on base in the game.
In the bottom of the third, BYU broke the scoreless tie. Freshman Brennon Lund
reached base on a two-out single, and second baseman Parker Starr
followed with a single to left field. Lund scored the game’s first run on sophomore Eric Urry
’s RBI single to right.
Gonzaga then countered in the fourth inning as Sam Brown scored on a wild pitch, knotting the game at 1-1. Then in the top of the fifth, the Bulldogs took a 2-1 lead on a solo home run by Payden Cawley Lamb.
In the bottom half of the frame, Urry reached base for the second time on the night with a single to right field before senior Kelton Caldwell
drew a walk. Lopez then came to the plate and singled up the middle, driving in Urry for the RBI while tying the game at two apiece.
After a scoreless sixth for both teams, BYU ran into trouble in the seventh. With runners on the corners, Gonzaga’s Jimmy Sinatro singled up the left field line for the RBI, giving the Zags the 3-2 lead. After runners advanced, Gonzaga singled again later in the inning, stretching the lead to 4-2.
Leading off in the bottom of the seventh, Whitney singled and advanced to third on a throwing error. The next batter, right fielder Caldwell, took the first pitch to deep center field on the warning track for the RBI-double, closing the Cougar deficit to 4-3. BYU did not capitalize as three base runners were stranded after a flyout ended the inning.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, BYU tried to get a rally going. Jarrett Jarvis
singled to left center, who earlier in the game extended his hitting streak to five. Sophomore Trace Hansen
then hit to right field, but the outfielder Cawley Lamb made an impressive diving grab for the second out. The game ended as pinch runner Andy Isom
was caught stealing second.
The series between the Cougars and Bulldogs concludes with the rubber game Saturday at 1 p.m. MDT.