Ralph R. Zobell | Posted: 5 Apr 2016 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

No. 16 BYU brings first-place standing into San Diego series

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No. 16 BYU baseball returns to West Coast Conference play starting Thursday when it hosts perennial league favorite the University of San Diego.

BYU, now 23-4 overall, is in sole possession of first place in the WCC with a 7-2 record, while USD is 16-14 overall and 4-5 in the league.

Among the big contributors for BYU is reigning WCC Rawlings Player of the Week Colton Shaver. Shaver is currently batting .450 and was ranked No. 4 in the nation for batting average. Shaver is also ranked No. 6 in slugging, No. 9 in on- base percentage and No. 10 in doubles.

The Cougars are ranked No. 2 in the NCAA in batting, No. 3 in both scoring and slugging percentage, No. 4 in doubles per game and No. 6 in runs scored.

However, USD has had BYU’s number over the years in the series with a lop-sided 17-1 advantage.

“The gap is closing and this is a year I believe we can win the series here,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “If we want to take first in this league we have to win the series, especially at home.”

The Cougars had a snag earlier this week with an 11-5 loss to Arizona before a record-setting daytime crowd of 2,825 in Provo and look to bounce back.

“We have a lot of character, we need to put it behind us,” Littlewood said. “We are a resilient team and just need to come out and compete with our approach of being aggressive and hunting fastballs.”

Michael Rucker (6-0, 2.14) will start Thursday’s 6 p.m. MDT game against USD, with Maverik Buffo (5-1, 3.58) on the mound Friday night at the same time. BYU’s starter for Saturday’s 1 p.m. game has yet to be announced.

BYU is currently ranked No. 16 by Perfect Game, its first appearance in that poll. The Cougars moved up from No. 24 in both the USA Today/Coaches and Collegiate Baseball polls to No. 19 and No. 22, respectively. BYU also moved up from No. 26 to No. 22 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writer’s poll.

Next after the three-game USD series is rematch on Tuesday night against Utah in Provo.

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