MORAGA, California (April 16, 2016)—Two bases-loaded situations in the last two innings went the way of No. 16 BYU baseball for a 5-4 win Saturday afternoon over Saint Mary’s.
The victory puts the Cougars (27-7) back in a tie for first place in the West Coast Conference with the Gaels (20-12), both having 10-5 league records.
With two out in the bottom of the ninth, reliever Keaton Cenatiempo coaxed a leftfield pop-up to end the game after he hit a Gael batter to load the bases. Cenatiempo was the fifth BYU pitcher of the game and earned his second save of the season.
"What a gutsy effort by our team today," BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. "We battled and battled until the very last pitch. Our pen stepped up today in a big way."
While starter Connor Williams couldn’t get the win, the Cougar sophomore struck out six batters in his three innings, including four consecutively in the heart of the Gael order.
Williams was relieved by Bo Burrup in the fourth, who earned the win to improve his record to 3-2 in three innings. Closer Mason Marshall was in line for his 14th career save, striking out the first batter of the ninth before allowing two aboard as a run trickled across to make the score 5-4.
Marshall escaped the eighth frame when the Gaels loaded the bases after he recorded the first of his two strikeouts in two and two-thirds innings. Marshall also got defensive help in the seventh frame.
Jackson Cluff leaped to catch a smoking liner, then reached to tag out the diving Gael runner at third for an unassisted double play to end the seventh to minimize the damage with a 5-3 lead.
"We got great performances by two freshmen - offensively from Daniel (Schneemann), and defensively by Jack (Cluff)," Littlewood said.
Although hitless, senior Eric Urry came through several times for the Cougars, including twice offensively. Urry scored BYU’s final run, unearned in the seventh after he walked and was driven in by Colton Shaver. Urry helped Brennon Lund score on a safety squeeze bunt by in the third for a 3-1 lead after Daniel Schneemann scored BYU's second run on a wild pitch.
The next frame Schneemann got his second consecutive single in as many innings to plate fellow freshman Keaton Kringlen as the lead increased to 4-1.
Lund, who was 3-for-5 on the afternoon, gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead in the first inning when he led off with a double and scored on Urry’s ground out.
The Cougars end the week with a 2-2 record and now have a couple days off to prepare for a three-game non-conference series hosting Creighton on Friday and Saturday.