Cougars claw out extra-inning victory over Aggies, 5-4

(Photo by Jonathan Hardy/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah — Lauren Bell scored on Sydney Broderick’s walk-off bunt single as BYU softball defeated Utah State 5-4 in extra innings Wednesday at Gail Miller Field.

“It’s nice to win,” BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. “It was really cold and sometimes it’s hard to play quality ball in that type of weather, but we fought and came back and won so I’m proud of them.”

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Bell started the bottom of the eighth inning on second base for the Cougars per tiebreaker rules. Broderick bunted just to the left of the pitcher as Bell was running on the pitch. She scored easily from second as the ball trickled through the infield, securing the victory for BYU.  In the top of the eighth McKenna Bull struck out two Aggies to preserve the tie score.

Katie Manuma led the Cougars (14-19), going 3-for-3 with a home run and two RBI and two runs scored. Broderick also homered and drove in two runs, going 2-for-5 on the day. Utah State's Hailey Froton led the Aggies (13-18) with a home run and two RBI.

Trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh, Manuma hit a home run to left-center to tie the score and send the game to extra innings. Utah State had taken the lead in the top of the seventh when Allison Lenzora’s drag bunt chased BYU starter Tori Almond. Bull replaced Almond with no outs and a runner on first.

Sarah Chow laid down a sacrifice bunt towards third and reached when third baseman Ashlee Robinson, attempting to force out Lenzora, threw the ball wide of second and into center field. The Aggies scored when Jolene Koons hit a soft line drive back to Bull that she couldn’t handle. She recovered and threw to third, but again the ball sailed wide, allowing Lenzora to score and take a 4-3 lead.

BYU got on the board in the third inning for the first run of the game. With two outs, Aggie pitcher Noelle Johnson issued back-to-back walks to McKenzie St. Clair and Ashley Thompson. Manuma singled down the first base line on a check-swing that landed just out of reach of the Utah State first baseman Libby Pederson, scoring St. Clair and giving the Cougars a 1-0 lead.

The Aggies took the lead in the fourth on Froton’s opposite-field, two-run home run to right. Kirstyn Namba singled earlier in the inning and scored on the home run.

Sarah Chow hit a two-out triple in the fifth and scored on a wild pitch by Almond to extend the Aggie lead to 3-1.

Thompson led off the BYU half of the fifth with a walk and reached third when Manuma hit a double over the Froton’s head in center field. Thompson tried to score on a grounder by Coco Tauali’i back to pitcher Noelle Johnson, but was tagged out at home. Manuma scored on Duckworth’s sacrifice fly to deep center, cutting the deficit to 3-2.

BYU’s Sydney Broderick tied the game at 3-3 in the sixth with a solo home run to left center, her third of the year.

The Cougars will travel to San Diego to play the first game of softball in West Coast Conference history against the Toreros on Friday, as 2014 is the inaugural season of the sport in the WCC. Friday’s game will begin at 5 p.m. PDT. The teams will conclude the series Saturday with a double-header beginning at noon.