ST. GEORGE, Utah—Jaycob Brugman’s two-out grand slam highlighted a seven-run fifth inning Saturday when BYU broke open an eventual 14-5 victory over Creighton at Bruce Hurst Field.
BYU (7-6) batted around that inning, taking an 11-4 lead and provided the needed comfort to senior reliever Matt Milke to earn his first victory in a Cougar uniform. Brugman belted a hanging curveball 400 feet over the fence on an 0-1 count from the Bluejays (4-2).
“He threw me the same pitch two times in a row,” said Brugman. “I had to make sure I stayed inside and not pull it. I didn’t see where it went, if it goes over that is all that matters.”
Brugman’s homer gave BYU a 10-4 lead, plating Jacob Hannemann, Brennon Anderson and Adam Law. Law, who extended his current hitting streak to six games, also extended the team margin in the sixth to 14-5 when he knocked a three-run dinger with the same left-center field trajectory.
While those homers captured the limelight, there were other great performances as each of the BYU starters took a turn adding to its 20-hit aggregate. Among them were junior outfielder Kelton Caldwell and freshman second baseman Brennon Anderson.
Caldwell hit back-to-back doubles (BYU hit six two-baggers) in the second and third innings as he started in a 3 for 3 effort. Brennon Anderson started out 4 for 4, including a double in the fifth frame.
“We had him (Brennon Anderson) in the two-hole all fall and then he started struggling a couple weeks ago,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “Now was a good time to put him back in that spot where we like him.”
Milke was a steadying influence on the mound until those Cougar hits generated runs. Milke took the mound with two Bluejays on base in the third for the ineffective starter Mark Anderson and St. George reliever Chunner Nyberg. With the score tied 4-4 in the fifth, Milke enticed first baseman Reagan Fowler into a comeback grounder which he pivoted and initiated a 1-6-3 double play.
“When Mark (Anderson) and Chunner (Nyberg) struggled, I loved it that we didn’t quit,” Littlewood said. “It was a total team effort. This team has a lot of character. Since yesterday, our hitters made adjustments, looking for the curve early in the count.”
In addition to turning the Milke double play, freshman shortstop Hayden Nielsen wowed the crowd with a fortuitous bare-hand grab off a bounce in the sixth inning when Creighton scored once in nibbling at the Cougar lead.
Saturday’s 14-5 victory completed bookend wins for BYU in a scheduled three-game, home-opening series with Creighton that was moved from Provo to St. George because of unplayable field conditions.
“We have to win home series, so this set a nice tone and precedent,” said Littlewood as his team readies to host No. 21 UC Irvine in a three-game series that starts Thursday evening.