Their efforts spearheaded the Cougars to a 22-3 overall record and 6-2 mark for first place in the West Coast Conference.
Buffo tallied a career-high 10 strikeouts, recording two strikeouts per inning through the first three frames, along with another pair in the sixth. The sophomore picked up a strikeout in the fourth and fifth innings.
“What a great bounce back start by Maverik,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “That was as sharp as I've seen him and he showed great tenacity and resiliency.”
“I wanted to bounce back and help my team and be ‘me’,” Maverik Buffo said. Buffo, a sophomore from Salem, Utah, improved to 5-1 as the winning pitcher and didn’t allow any walks.
Cenatiempo relieved him in the seventh and the junior right-hander struck out three Pilots in the eighth. Then the “Mantis” Marshall recorded career save No. 13, his third of the season, with a strikeout, backed by a game-ending double play in the ninth.
“Keaton and Mason stepped up big for us out of the pen and our defense was sharp tonight,” Littlewood said. “It was just a great team win.”
While 14 Pilots struck out, the BYU pitchers received offensive and defensive help from their teammates in the form of three double plays and taking advantage of hits when needed.
“(Davis) Tominaga and (Kevin) Baker did a great job changing speeds and keeping the ball out of the middle of the plate but we did a nice job grinding out at bats until we got something to hit,” Littlewood said.
Foremost among the BYU hitters were freshman Brock Hale who replaced sophomore Colton Shaver as the designated hitter in the lineup and Shaver. Shaver played first base due to an injury Thursday to Tanner Chauncey.
“Colton had a big two-out RBI for us and Brock came up big with his two-out RBI in the ninth to put some separation between us,” Littlewood said.
Hale hit a two-out double in the second inning and was driven home by Shaver’s single for the initial 1-0 lead. That margin expanded to 3-0 in the fourth.
For good measure Nielsen scored BYU’s fourth run in the ninth after his two-out double.
Portland falls to 13-14 overall and 1-4 in the WCC. The series concludes Saturday at 11 a.m. PDT and will be broadcast live by ESPNRadio960 AM and streamed on its site.