Cougars even Deseret First Duel baseball series with Utah
BYU (20-15) evened up its four-game Deseret First Duel series with Utah (16-20) at one game apiece.
“It’s always nice to beat Utah, and fortunately we got them on a good night,” BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said. “To our guys’ credit, we came ready to play and were aggressive at the plate, swinging our bats well. To a guy, everyone did their job.”
Freshman reliever Keaton Cenatiempo (2-2) pitched three hitless innings with three strikeouts to earn the win.
“Keaton (Cenatiempo) to come in that situation, it’s a little bit different then he’s been in,” Littlewood said. “We called on him to be ready to go and he was and I think he deserves the win.”
The pitching staff held the Ute batters in check, allowing only seven hits for the game and striking out seven. BYU saw the ball well all game, recording 14 hits with five players having a multi-hit game.
Jacob Hannemann smashed the first pitch of the game over the right field wall for a lead-off home run to give BYU an early 1-0 lead. The ball tailed over the foul pole but was ruled fair.
“I saw it, reacted and swung at the fastball,” Hannemann said of his home run. “It was the same exact pitch when I hit my double. It was a great win for us preparing for Gonzaga this weekend.”
Later in that inning, Trace Hansen and Adam Law drew walks to put runners on first and second base. A wild pitch moved Hansen to third and Law to second. Brock Whitney ripped a liner that the Ute shortstop couldn’t handle to score Hansen and increase the lead, 2-0.
In the second inning, Dakota Hernandez singled up the middle. Hayden Nielsen laced a single up the middle, moving Hernandez into scoring position at third. Hannemann stroked a double to the corner in right field, plating Hernandez and moving Nielsen to third. Law drew his second walk of the game to load the bases. Brugman sent the first pitch he saw down the right field line for a bases-clearing double to give BYU a 6-0 lead.
Utah scored a run in the top of the fourth, bringing the score to 6-1.
Law drew his third walk of the game to start off the seventh frame. Whitney doubled to the deepest part of the field, hitting the wall in center, and moving Law to third. Kelton Caldwell produced a sac fly into left field to plate Law, and push the lead to 7-1.
The next Cougar batter, Bret Lopez hit a lazy fly ball for a double amidst confused Utes into shallow right field, scoring Whitney. Hernandez recorded his second single up the middle, pushing Lopez across and increasing the Cougar lead, 9-1.
Utah responded with two runs in the top of the eighth for the final runs of the game, 9-3.
“I think our whole goal from the get-go was to be one of the top four teams in the conference, Littlewood said about the next couple of weeks. “That was really our only team goal to get to the conference tournament and see what happens and right now we have an opportunity to do that. We control our own destiny, it sounds cliché but that’s the truth. We have a couple tough road trips and Gonzaga is playing well. These next three games are the games we’re really concerned about. I feel good about where we are as a team and our confidence just going up there and competing.”
BYU returns to conference action with a three-game series at league-leading Gonzaga beginning Thursday at 6 p.m. PDT. Game two is Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday game three begins at 1 p.m. All three games will be broadcast live on KOVO 960 AM.