PROVO, Utah – Jaycob Brugman went 2 for 4 with four RBI to lead BYU to a 6-3 victory over Kansas on a snowy Saturday afternoon at Larry H. Miller Field.
BYU (11-12) took two of three from Kansas (14-8) to win its fourth series of the season. The fourth game was not played due to a mutual decision by both coaches.
Starting pitcher Jeff Barker (3-2) got the win, scattering four hits over five innings and striking out three while lowering his earned run average from 4.33 to 3.66.
“Execution was the name of the game today,” BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said. “We did a nice job of being patient. It was an overall team effort today. It’s tough to keep emotions in check and the mentality to play, hanging in there for six to seven hours at the ballpark.”
Adam Law who went 3 for 3 with three runs, got on base first for the Cougars in the opening frame with a single to left that snuck past the shortstop. He then stole second on a failed pickoff to advance into scoring position. Brugman sent Law home with an RBI triple to the wall in that the KU right fielder lost in the snow flurries to give the Cougars an early 1-0 lead.
“It was snowing pretty good and the pitches were tough to see,” Brugman said. “Adam (Law) got to second and I knew I had to get him home and score the first run of the game. He threw me a changeup in the zone and I was able to drive the ball pretty good.”
In the bottom of the third, Jacob Hannemann reached on an error and advanced to second off a wild pitch. Brennon Anderson drew a walk and Law laid a bunt single down the third base line to load the bases. Brugman knocked a two-RBI single into left field to score Hannemann and Anderson. Brugman advanced to second as the Jayhawk left-fielder misplayed the ball. Jarrett Jarvis hit a sac fly to right to score Law and lift BYU to a 4-0 lead.
Law got aboard in the fifth with a first-pitch single up the middle. He recorded his second stolen base of the game and advanced to third on an errant throw by the catcher. Bret Lopez laid an RBI bunt down the first base line to send Law home and increase the lead to 5-0.
Brugman notched his fourth RBI of the game in the sixth on a fielder’s choice after the Cougars loaded the bases to push the lead to 6-0.
Kansas loaded the bases in the top of the sixth to chase Barker from the game. The Jayhawks added two runs in the seventh inning before reliever Derek Speigner got Alex DeLeon to fly out to Hannemann to minimize the damage and not let the Jayhawks further close the gap.
Kansas added another run in the eighth to bring the score to 6-3. In that inning, Brugman had a spectacular diving catch in shallow right to stop the Jayhawk momentum. Standing in deep right, Brugman got a jump on the ball early. Running full speed, with his hat flying off, he laid out completely to catch the ball.
“I got a good break on the ball,” Brugman said. “I knew I had to lay out a little bit to get it. We needed something to get back on a roll and this was a confidence builder for us late in the game.”
James Lengal came into the game in the ninth to relieve Speigner. The Jayhawks got runners on first and second before Lengal got Connor McKay to ground into a 4-6-3 double play for the first two outs of the inning. For the final out, Lengal fielded a grounder right back at him to preserve the win and earn his fifth save of the year.
“When Brugman made that catch, I thought it was the play of the game,” Littlewood said. “But it turns out that the double play in the ninth was the play of the game.”
The first four innings saw Barker and the defense lock down and keep the Jayhawks from scoring.
In the opening inning the game was two outs old before a 14-minute snow delay stopped action. After the delay, the Jayhawks loaded the bases before Barker struck out Justin Protacio to end the early threat.
Hayden Nielsen and Anderson teamed up to turn a 6-4-3 double play to keep Kansas from scoring in the second inning. The Cougars have turned a double play in 19 of 23 games this season.
Barker struck two out looking and induced a fly out to end the third inning. With a runner on third in the fourth, Barker got Dakota Smith to fly out in foul territory in right to keep the Jayhawks scoreless.
Next up for BYU is game one of the Deseret First Duel between Utah and the Cougars is Tuesday at 6 p.m. MDT at Spring Mobile Ballpark in Salt Lake City. The Cougars return home for a three-game series against Pepperdine beginning Thursday at 6 p.m. MDT.