Gonzaga University
May 26 | 08:00 PM
5 - 3
Brigham Young University
Banner Island Ballpark

404 W. Fremont St. Stockton CA 95203

Ralph R. Zobell | Posted: 27 May 2016 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020
Ralph R. Zobell

No. 30 BYU falls 5-3 in WCC Tourney opener to Gonzaga

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STOCKTON, Calif. (May 26, 2016) —Three solo homers were all No. 30 BYU baseball could muster in a 5-3 opening round loss to Gonzaga on Thursday in the West Coast Conference Championships.

Keaton Kringlen, Bronson Larsen and Eric Urry belted solo home runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings at Banner Island Ballpark, but it could not offset a 5-0 deficit to the Bulldogs (34-17).

Gonzaga pitcher Brandon Bailey threw a complete game, striking out a career-high 17 batters to improve his record to 9-3. Fellow tri-champion BYU (37-16) fell behind 2-0 in the third inning off a pair of bloop pop doubles to left field.

"Brandon Bailey simply overpowered us tonight," BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. "We didn't make adjustments at the plate and that resulted in 17 punchouts. The little things cost us in this game. We lost a fly ball, fell behind a couple hitters and Mike (Rucker) had trouble fielding a ground ball back to him and that was the difference in the game. We need to get back to the park early Friday and show our true character."

Cougar starter Michael Rucker had retired his former team in order in the first two innings in front of an audience that included over 30 pro scouts and repeated that feat in the fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings, but was tagged for his first loss of the year with an 11-1 record.

Those third inning shallow pop doubles to left field were costly. The first by leadoff batter Joey Harris was lost in the lights and night sky, landing out of nowhere between shortstop, third base and left field.  Harris scored on Sam Brown’s double which bounced out of the glove of sliding Eric Urry. Brown then scored on Jeff Bohling’s gap double.

Bailey fanned two Cougars in the first, three in the second, three in the third, three in the sixth and two in the seventh to stymie BYU.

Kringlen, the WCC Freshman of the Year, helped BYU avoid a shutout with his one-out homer in the seventh.  Larsen swatted a towering homer off the fair pole in left field from the first pitch offered in the eighth frame. Urry knocked his leadoff homer to right field, a spot known corporately as “Jackson’s Rancherita Back Porch.” 

The three homers equals BYU’s three total home runs in as many tournament games in 2013 when the Cougars hit a combined three homers by Jaycob Brugman, Bret Lopez and Kelton Caldwell. Dillon Robinson hit BYU’s only homer in the two tourney games of 2015.

Rucker threw 117 pitches, coming on strong in the later innings after giving up three more runs in the fifth, starting with an error as he attempted to field a roller off the mound. The loss was only the second of Rucker’s BYU career against 16 wins.

Bailey meanwhile scattered six hits, the only pair coming in the fifth inning when Kringlen and Daniel Schneemann led off with consecutive singles, but were stranded.

BYU faces an uphill battle through the consolation bracket, starting Friday with a noon PDT game against Pepperdine (28-23), who lost to tri-champion Saint Mary’s 8-7 in 11 innings in Thursday’s tourney opener. A win for the Cougars pits them in a 7:30 p.m. PDT survival game Friday against the loser of Saint Mary’s-Gonzaga.

Ralph R. Zobell | Posted: 24 May 2016 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020
Ralph R. Zobell

No. 30-ranked Cougars get WCC honors before league tourney

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PROVO, Utah (May 24, 2016)—Accolades for No. 30 BYU, regular season tri-champion, were announced Tuesday by the West Coast Conference.

Topping the list for the Cougars (37-15) are Keaton Kringlen as WCC Freshman of the Year and Brennon Lund and Michael Rucker as First Team All-WCC selections.  Kringlen was also named to the WCC Freshman Team and was Second Team All-WCC.

Colton Shaver was voted Second Team All-WCC.  Brennon Anderson, Tanner Chauncey, Hayden Nielsen and Eric Urry were Honorable Mention All-WCC from BYU.  Daniel Scheemann joins Kringlen on the WCC Freshman Team.  For the complete list of WCC honors see this link.

Rucker (11-0, 2.58) is scheduled to start as BYU’s opening day pitcher against Gonzaga (33-16) on Thursday at 7 p.m. PDT in the WCC post-season tournament at Stockton, California.

“The opening day of our tournament will feature four starting pitchers who will be playing professional baseball soon so it really doesn’t matter who we play," said BYU coach Mike Littlewood.

 “We feel really good about the way we are playing right now, and although we’ve had a couple injuries on the mound we have had guys step up and get the job done.  It’s been a rewarding season and the guys have put it on the line every night, but we all know we haven’t yet reached our main goal of reaching the NCAA tournament."

The Cougars tied with Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s (30-23) for the regular season title and are in the hunt with Pepperdine (28-22) for the automatic berth for the NCAA Regionals from the WCC Tournament.  BYU returned to the national rankings for the second time this month at the No. 30 spot in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll.

 “As far as pitching goes we are going to try and win the game we are playing that night,” Littlewood said.  “As thin as we are on the mound, we don’t have the luxury of saving someone for tomorrow when we need to win today."

All of the games BYU plays in the WCC Tournament will be broadcast live by ESPN960 AM, BYU Radio—Sirius 143, with a live video stream on TheW.tv.

For more detailed information, see multi-page PDF below

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