PROVO, Utah – Starting pitcher Desmond Poulson threw a complete-game shutout to lead BYU to a 3-0 victory over Kansas Wednesday night at Larry H. Miller Field.
Poulson (3-0), who recorded his second complete game of the season, struck out seven and retired the Jayhawks in order in six of the first seven innings.
“Desmond (Poulson) is tough to beat when he is throwing four pitches for strikes,” BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said. “In the ninth inning, when a couple of guys got on base, I had a calm feeling knowing Desmond is going take care of business.”
The Cougars (10-11), who ended a five-game skid, recorded nine hits in the game, five of those for extra bases while Poulson limited the Jayhawks (13-7) to just five singles.
BYU scored all three runs in the fifth inning, using a combination of great hitting and capitalizing on a Jayhawk throwing error. Jacob Hannemann hit his third triple of the year to the wall in right-center to score Bret Lopez for the first run of the game. With the infield anticipating a bunt, Brennon Anderson hit knocked a one-hop double to the wall in left field to score Hannemann and chase starting pitcher Tanner Poppe from the game with the Cougars leading 2-0. After Adam Law advanced Anderson on a groundout, Anderson took advantage of a throwing error at third to score and increase the lead to 3-0.
“We put a bunch of good at bats together,” said Littlewood in reference to the fifth inning. “I’m proud of Brennon (Anderson), we let him swing away when he got ahead in the count. I can’t say enough about (Jacob) Hannemann. For us to be successful, Hannemann has to be productive at the top of our lineup.”
The defense held strong behind Poulson, not letting the Jayhawks reach second until the eighth inning.
The Cougars turned two double plays in the game to showcase their No. 1 national ranking in the category. Freshman shortstop Hayden Nielsen fielded a one-hopper and touched second before throwing to first to beat the runner at first in the second inning. Nielsen and Anderson combined for a smooth 6-4-3 double play in the top of the sixth to end the inning.
Poulson had three great plays register outs. He caught Connor McKay at first for his second pick-off of the year in the third and in the fourth he fielded a slow-roller along the third base line and beat Jacob Boylan to first to end the inning. In the fifth inning, a come-backer to the mound, ripped his glove off and he fielded the ball barehanded and underhand-tossed to first for the initial out.
BYU looked to break open the game early, getting two men on base in both the first and second innings but was unable to plate any runs while leaving two runners in scoring position.
In the second inning, with two outs and runners at first and second, Hannemann, who went 3 for 4 on the day, singled to right and Dakota Smith threw Jarrett Jarvis out at home on a controversial call to end the inning.
“It’s amazing that four of our last five games we have played tremendous,” Littlewood said. “To get over the emotional hump was big for us. Now we can take a breathe and be focused to play good, solid baseball.”
Game two of the four-game series is tomorrow at 6 p.m. at Larry H. Miller Field. The game will be broadcast live by BYUtv and KOVO Radio 960 AM.