Rival Utah precedes a three-game series at league frontrunner San Diego in what proves as a true showdown week for BYU baseball.
“The next six days are huge for us beginning with Utah on Tuesday and ending with a very good San Diego State team next Monday, not to mention the three-game series with San Diego on the weekend,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said.
“We really want to get the week started off on the right foot by going to Salt Lake and playing well. As we all know the Utah/BYU games always seem to be knock down, drag out affairs and I'm sure this year won't be any different. It's been a great in-state rivalry long before I played at BYU in the mid 80's and it will be long after we are all gone. That being said, we try to keep the focus away from the rivalry and more towards executing the things we do well and playing a solid game.”
The Cougars (11-12) will start Salt Lake Community College transfer pitcher Brady Corless (1-2, 8.44) against Utah (7-15) in the 7 p.m., on Tuesday at Smith Ballpark, which will be televised, live by the Pac-12 Network.
Junior Kolton Mahoney (2-2, 3.69) and senior Jeff Barker (1-1, 3.67) will start Thursday and Friday’s games at 6 p.m. PDT, at San Diego. Senior Brandon Kinser (2-1, 2.27) will be the Cougar starter for Saturday’s game versus the Toreros at 1 p.m.
“Our weekend series at San Diego is huge for us,” Littlewood said. “San Diego has a great baseball tradition and they are playing very well right now. Couple that with the confidence they feel in front of their home crowd and that makes for a very challenging weekend for us.”
The Cougars take a 4-2 West Coast Conference record in against the 5-1 mark by perennial league favorite San Diego (13-9). USD leads the series, 13-1, with BYU winning once in 1990 at Las Vegas. BYU shortstop Hayden Nielsen leads the team with a 10-game hitting streak.
“I do like where our team is right now, both mentally and physically,” Littlewood said. “For the most part, we have been executing on offense and playing very good defense. If you look back at the Gonzaga series we played excellent baseball on the road for 25 of 27 innings. If we do that against San Diego we will have opportunities to win ballgames. “
All of this week’s games will be broadcast live on Radio 960 AM and streamed by BYU Radio, except for Friday, through links found at www.byucougars.com.