SALT LAKE CITY—For the seventh time in eight years BYU’s baseball team won the Deseret First Duel, clinching the trophy with a 16-6 victory Tuesday night at Smith’s Ballpark.
BYU improved to 25-22 with Keaton Cenatiempo improving to 4-1 after coming in relief during the first inning against Utah, now 16-30-1.
“In the top of the first inning I’ve never been happier for our guys and in the bottom of the first I’ve never been more disappointed,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “It’s a rollercoaster of emotions and I honestly thought this game was going to end 15-14 or something like that.”
The two teams started off in marathon fashion, taking an hour and a half to play the first two innings. Both teams batted through their entire lineup in the first inning and the Cougars did it again in the second, taking a 10-4 lead.
For the second game in a row, second baseman Tanner Chauncey picked up the game-winning RBI. In the third game against the Utes, Chauncey got that RBI from a two-run double to the deep left field corner and went 2-for-4 for the evening. Teammate Colton Shaver, who hit a pair of homers in both the previous two meetings this season when the teams split, went 3-for-5 with four RBI and a double.
The Cougars expanded that lead to 16-6 batting through their order plus one in the sixth. That’s when Mason Marshall took over on the mound for Cenatiempo and retired the Utes in order both of his innings. James Lengal took the mound in the eighth and Michael Rucker in the ninth.
“I loved the way Cenatiempo and Marshall came in and got us a couple of shut down innings. We’ve been swinging the bats really well and made a lineup adjustment to spread it out and extend it a bit.
“We want to leave here on a high, let’s keep riding it right now,” Littlewood said. “It’s always a big game, ever since I played and way before that. It’s one of those special games you enjoy winning and hate to lose.
“I think we feel confident and comfortable where we are at right now. The guys are playing nice and relaxed. This was a big game for us and obviously the next four are huge for us.”
BYU readies for a three-game series starting at Santa Clara on Thursday at 6 p.m., PDT. This week it was made known to the Cougars they would have to reschedule last Saturday’s rainout against St. Mary’s, but will make up that game on Monday afternoon while in California.