St. Clair's clutch hitting helps Cougars sweep Tigers

St. Clair's two-out double in the sixth and two-out infield single in the seventh paved the way for a BYU win. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

STOCKTON, Calif. – Led by McKenzie St. Clair’s clutch hitting, BYU came back to defeat Pacific 9-6 to complete the sweep and take their win streak to 10 games on Saturday.

“It was a hard-fought victory today,” BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. “Pacific really wanted to send their seniors out on a high note and they battled the whole way. I’m proud of our girls for not backing down and fighting just as hard for the win.”

St. Clair had two 2-out hits and finished 3-for-4 with a double, two runs and two RBI. Ashlee Robinson added her own 3-for-4 day and BYU (28-21, 9-2 WCC) received home runs from Katie Manuma and Ashley Thompson. Tori Almond (8-6) came in and pitched the final 3.1 innings and did not allow Pacific (20-28, 8-7 WCC) to score on four hits to get the win.

Trailing 6-5 in the top of the sixth, Manuma jacked one to right center to tie the game at six. St. Clair then doubled to right center with two outs to put the tiebreaking run in scoring position. After Thompson walked, Carly Duckworth’s bloop single fell just in front of Pacific’s left fielder to give BYU a 7-6 lead that they would not relinquish.

Sydney Broderick started things off for the Cougars with a hard shot that hit off the pitchers leg for an infield single. The hit extended her hitting streak to 15 games and moved her to a tie with JC Clayton for the sixth longest in BYU softball history.

Lauren Bell followed with a single to left field and a throwing error on Gordy Bravo’s sacrifice bunt allowed Broderick to score. Manuma sacrificed to left field to allow Bell to score and give the Cougars a 2-0 lead. Mercedes O’Connor and St. Clair both drew walks to load the bases but a strikeout and a ground out to first left them stranded. With runners on first and second with two outs in the bottom of the inning, the Tigers singled to right center to score one and cut BYU’s lead to 2-1.

After a lead-off single and error put a runner on second in the bottom of the second, the Tigers were able to tie the game when Bell was unable to handle a chopper at short. With the bases loaded and two outs, McKenna Bull was able to strike out a Pacific batter looking to end the threat.

O’Connor singled up the middle to lead off the top of the third and Thompson hit her second home run of the series just fair down the left-field line to give BYU the 4-2 lead. Bull and BYU’s defense left a runner stranded in the bottom of the frame and kept the Tigers off the board for the first time in the game.

After the Cougars failed to score in the top of the fourth, Pacific put its first two batters on base and an intentional walk to Taylor Petty loaded the bases with one out. A fly out to shallow center field kept the runners put, but Melanie Habib was able to take one over the left field fence for a grand slam giving the Tigers a 6-4 lead.

In the top of the fifth, St. Clair singled and Thompson and Duckworth walked to load the bases with one out. Robinson then singled to center field to cut Pacific’s lead to 6-5.

In the top of the seventh Bell singled, Bravo reached on an error and O’Connor walked to load the bases for the Cougars. St. Clair then hit a high on towards second base that the Tigers’ infield lost in the sun to score two insurance runs making it 9-6.

The Cougars return home to take on cross-town rival Utah Valley on Tuesday in a doubleheader beginning at 5 p.m. MDT at Gail Miller Field. Both games will be broadcast live by TheW.tv.