SANTA CLARA, California—Unusual twists Friday night led to an 8-7 win by Santa Clara in game two over BYU baseball.
After jumping out to a 7-1 lead through five innings, Santa Clara drew a bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning to deny the Cougars a chance to secure a tournament berth in next week’s West Coast Conference Championships.
Hopes are still alive for BYU, now 26-23 overall and 14-11 in the WCC, after it eliminated Santa Clara, 26-27, 12-14) in the opener of the three-game series in 10 innings on Thursday.
“For some reason we just weren't mentally locked in tonight,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “We sat back and just accepted what Santa Clara brought to us. We did a nice job battling back, but it's tough to overcome a six-run deficit on the road.”
That comeback started in the sixth inning after Bronco coach Dan O’Brien was ejected in the previous frame after arguing a catcher interference call prior to his team’s four-run rally. BYU benefited from a three-run error in the sixth when right-fielder Grant Meylan dropped Colton Shaver’s near-inning-ending fly out with the bases loaded to close the game to 7-4.
BYU added three more runs in the seventh inning aided by singles from outfielder Derrick Whitney and Bronson Larsen, the latter of which extended the catcher’s hitting streak to 22 games. Larsen ended up on second, then third when Dillon Robinson tied the game at seven-all, scoring on a bases-loaded balk.
Then Cougar starting hurler Kolton Mahoney, now 4-7, caught fire when he put the Broncos down in order the next two frames, including the eighth when he tallied three of his nine strikeouts off his eventual 134 pitches.
Mahoney left the game after surrendering a single in the ninth which led to the bases being loaded with after one out. At that point Littlewood called time and moved Whitney from right field to become the fifth infielder, placed between third and shortstop.
“We need to take the fight to our opponent and have an aggressive mindset,” Littlewood said. “We are hungry to solidify our tournament berth and our guys will be ready to play tomorrow (Saturday).”
The Bronco-Cougar series concludes Saturday at 1 p.m. PDT in the second-to-last opportunity to lock up that berth.