PROVO, Utah - Despite coming back to tie the game twice, the BYU baseball team fell to Santa Clara 14-10 at Miller Park on Saturday afternoon.
Santa Clara (25-25, 4-17) broke a 10-10 tie in the top of the ninth inning with four runs off relief pitcher Daniel Welch. The Cougars (21-25, 9-12) had to use seven pitchers in the game, including regular infielder Austin Hall who made his first collegiate pitching appearance, along with playing center field in the game as well.
Hall has now played eight of nine positions throughout his career, with catcher being the only position he has yet to play. He surrendered three runs however, but delivered at the plate, going 2 for 3 with three RBI. Shortstop Tanner Chauncey and outfielder Kelton Caldwell each went 3 for 4 and scored two runs apiece. Caldwell also had three RBI.
Neither team had a hit through the first three innings, but both teams combined for 24 total hits and 24 runs in a game that lasted three hours and 21 minutes.
“They played a complete and full nine, give them a lot of credit,” head coach Vance Law said. “A lot boils down to base on balls and when you give free bases away it is tough to keep guys from scoring.”
Santa Clara scored four runs in the fourth inning, jumping out to a 4-0 lead. In the bottom half of the fourth, BYU got one run back on a fielder’s choice. First baseman Brock Whitney hit a grounder stopped by a diving shortstop who tossed it to second for an out but Chauncey scored from third on the play, cutting the Bronco lead to 4-1.
After Santa Clara added another run in the top of the fifth inning, BYU responded in the bottom half. With runners on first and second, left fielder Kelton Caldwell drove in center fielder Stephen Wells with a base hit, advancing Chauncey to third and Caldwell took second on the throw to third base. Hall singled up the middle to bring both Cougars home, making it a one-run ball game at 5-4.
The Broncos went up 7-4 due to some wild pitches and solid base running in the top of the sixth inning. The Cougars used Coach Law’s mantra of scoring when the other team scores and answered back in the bottom of the sixth. With two runners on base, pinch hitter Christian Mua singled to center to make it 7-5.
BYU cut the lead to 7-6 in the same inning with a sacrifice fly from Chauncey. The Cougars weren’t done despite two outs in the inning. Caldwell tied up the score at 7-7 with a single, driving in Mua. Hall drove in Bret Lopez, giving BYU its first lead of the all game at 8-7. Caldwell came around to score on a base hit from designated hitter Alex Wolfe before the inning was over to give the Cougars a 9-7 advantage. BYU scored five runs in the inning, three with two outs to take the lead.
The game continued to swing back and forth in the eighth inning. Santa Clara retook the lead with three runs on four base hits. Hall, who moved to center field earlier in the game, came in to pitch but surrendered three runs on three hits, also giving up the Cougars’ lead, putting the Broncos ahead 10-9.
“I tried something we hadn’t practiced and unfortunately it backfired on us,” Law said. “Unfortunately it didn’t work out for us.”
BYU tied it up again in the bottom of the eighth. Lopez walked and advanced to third on Chauncey’s single. Lopez scored on Caldwell’s sacrifice fly deep to right field to tie the game, 10-10. The Broncos would take the lead again in the ninth though with four runs to win 14-10.
The Cougars will play their final games of the season next week against Gonzaga, with the first of a three-game series on Thursday, May 24 at 6 p.m. at Miller Park.