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

Rucker and No. 26 Cougars claim 9-5 victory at Pepperdine

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MALIBU, California (May 5, 2016)—Michael Rucker kept his record unblemished at 10-0 as he helped No. 26 BYU baseball to a 9-5 win at Pepperdine on Thursday.

The Cougars improved to 31-11 and just as important to 13-6 to remain in first place in the West Coast Conference.

One of Rucker’s shining moments came in the fourth inning. The junior right-hander walked the first two Waves in that frame before registering the his second of five strikeouts in the game on three straight pitches.

Pepperdine then loaded the bases before Rucker struck out his third victim, looking on a full count in the fourth. He left the mound unscathed when Matt Gelalich flew out to centerfield.

“Mike (Rucker) was a warrior as usual and battled his way through six innings,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “Keaton (Cenatiempo) stepped up big for us and got us nine big outs. We had good energy during batting practice and it carried over into the game.”

On the heels of Rucker’s momentum, the Cougars rallied to his cause in the fifth inning to break a 2-2 deadlock.  Pepperdine starting ace A.J. Puckett (7-3) took the loss after he walked four Cougars each following 3-2 counts, walking in the go-ahead run, 4-3.

Tanner Chauncey extended his hitting streak to five games when he uncorked a two-run single up the middle with the bases still loaded in the fifth for a 5-3 lead.  Rucker battled through the two-run Pepperdine fifth by fanning a Wave batter on three “straight” pitches with the bases loaded.

Puckett had stymied several Cougars early in the game until he was stung by Brennon Lund’s two-run homer to right field in the second inning to knot the score 2-2 in the third inning.

“Puckett had as good of stuff as we've seen this year, but we put great at bats together,” Littlewood said. “Lund came up with a big hit to tie the game and we eventually chased him."

Chauncey picked up his second single in the seventh and scored what ended up being the game-winning run after teammate Colton Shaver doubled to left-centerfield for a 7-3 advantage.

Gelalich’s brother, Danny, pinch-ran for Shaver after a ninth-inning walk and scooted from first to third on Eric Urry’s second single of the afternoon.  Gelalich scored BYU’s eighth run when fellow freshman Keaton Kringlen got aboard on an error.

Cenatiempo garnered his third save of the season, entering the game with a 5-3 lead in the seventh and striking out three in as many innings.

The second of the three-game series between BYU and Pepperdine starts at 3 p.m., PDT on Friday and will be broadcast live by BYU Radio—Sirius Satellite 143 and ESPN960 AM and will be streamed live by TheW.tv on the Internet.

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