PROVO, Utah – Jaycob Brugman’s three-run home run highlighted a six-run fourth inning to lead BYU baseball to an 11-7 victory over Portland at Larry H. Miller Field Friday night.
Three Cougars recorded multiple hits in the game with Brugman leading the way, going 3 for 5 with four RBI and three runs scored on the night. Kelton Caldwell went 3 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored and Nate Favero, who entered the lineup replacing suspended Jacob Hannemann, went 2 for 5 with an RBI and a run as well.
“Collectively we know not to give up,” Caldwell said. “We did a good job of not quitting tonight.”
The Cougars (18-15, 6-5 West Coast Conference) recorded 14 hits in the game and scored runs in four different innings with a re-tooled lineup. The Pilots (13-21, 5-6 WCC) tallied 11 hits but were held scoreless for four innings in the middle of the game after grabbing an early 4-0 lead.
The Cougars capitalized on a pair of Pilot errors and great hitting to score six runs and take their first lead of the series in the fourth inning.
Jarrett Jarvis reached on a fielder’s choice and Favero laced a single up the middle with two outs to get on board. Hayden Nielsen singled to center field and the fielder over ran the ball, allowing Nielsen to advance to second and score Jarvis. The cutoff throw from the shortstop to home bounced over the catcher, allowing Favero to score and Nielsen to advance to third.
“I thought Hayden Nielsen’s two-out RBI was the key hit of the game,” BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said. “If he doesn’t do that, then we’re flat again. I’m proud of all the guys, I thought we just really hung in there, and were mature.”
Continuing in the fourth inning, Adam Law and Trace Hansen both drew walks to load the bases. With Brugman batting, Nielsen scored on a wild pitch, advancing Law and Hansen to third and second, respectively. Brugman smashed a 2-0 pitch over the wall in right field for a three-run home run to lead 6-4.
“That was huge,” Littlewood said of Brugman’s home run. “You know you almost come to expect that from Jaycob (Brugman). You take a good hitter like (Jacob) Hannemann out of the lineup and you know you kind of have two or three opportunities every game, maybe once every three innings to score. He came up huge for us and so did Kelton (Caldwell).”
Starting Cougar pitcher Desmond Poulson (5-0) pitched seven strong innings on a sprained ankle, growing stronger as the game progressed. Poulson struck out six, gave up four runs with three earned, and left the game leading 10-4 to pick up the win.
“He’s just a guy that isn’t going to give in and he is going to find a way to beat you,” Littlewood said. “When he gave up a couple doubles in the second inning, there was a little smile on his face that said, ‘okay now I’ll bear down and really get you’. You just love his attitude.”
Poulson and the defense protected the lead in the fifth inning. After the Pilots singled to center field, Poulson struck out the next batter on a pitch that bit the ground. He got the next batter to hit a liner straight to Brock Whitney who stepped on first and threw it to Nielsen on second to turn a 3-6 double play and end the inning.
BYU loaded the bases in the bottom of the frame to score two more runs and increase its lead. Singles by Caldwell and Whitney put runners on first and second base. Jarvis loaded the bases with no outs after being hit by a pitch. Favero stroked a single to right-center field to score Caldwell and keep the bases loaded. Nielsen’s second RBI of the game on a sac fly to right field scored Whitney and gave the Cougars an 8-4 lead.
The Cougars increased their lead in the sixth, scoring in their third straight inning. Hansen started things off with a single to center field. Brugman crushed a double over the center fielder’s head to plate Hansen. Lopez put down a swinging bunt along the third base line to move Brugman to third. Caldwell hit a deep sac fly to left to easily score Brugman and increase the lead to 10-4.
“We had to just keep persevering tonight,” Littlewood said. “I think that is the key word of the night, we persevered. I think we were pressing at the plate early and then you get down and then you feel like you get it all back at once. I told the guys I think in the fourth inning, you can’t hit a five run home run. Just go up there, have a good at bat and see what happens.”
Portland opened the scoring in the second inning, scoring two runs off a two-out double to left-center field.
With the bases juiced and one out in the bottom half of that frame, the Cougars couldn’t catch any breaks and went into the third down 2-0.
The Pilots increased their lead to 4-0 off a two- RBI single to center field.
Poulson retired the Portland batters in order in the fourth inning to turn a little momentum for the big offensive fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
BYU added a run in the eighth and Portland added a run in the eighth and two in the ninth for the final tally, 11-7.
The rubber match will take place Saturday at 1 p.m. MDT at Larry H. Miller Field. The game will be broadcast live on KOVO 960 AM.