Ralph R. Zobell | Posted: 17 May 2016 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

Utah wins finale over Cougars, 8-1

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SALT LAKE CITY (May 17, 2016)—Everything seemed to go Utah’s way as it avoided a season-series sweep by BYU baseball Tuesday night with an 8-1 victory over the Cougars.

Utah, now 21-25, is the frontrunner in the Pac-12 Conference, while BYU, now 34-15, is a game out of first place in the West Coast Conference. 

The Cougars had won the first two games of the series with Utah to claim the Deseret First Duel Trophy, but fell short of the sweep on Tuesday before a season-best 5,440 fans at Smith’s Ballpark.

“You could tell they (Utah) wanted to salvage the series,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “I didn’t feel like our will to win was there tonight. We just kind of went through the motions tonight.”

Utah got a strong pitching performance by starter Nolan Stouder (1-1), who surrendered nine hits in six innings. Stouder got great defensive support, including superb play from reserve shortstop Kyle Hoffman, who made plays like throwing from his knees for the final out in the eighth inning.

“Hoffman made a couple nice plays,” Littlewood said. “We kept saying in the dugout, ‘keep making them make great plays,’ and they did.

“They did a good job executing, building the score and running away from us. I felt like we were going to come up and put an inning of three or four runs, but tonight they made the pitches and plays that didn’t allow us to do that.”

For example, with two out, Keaton Kringlen, who has four assists this season, made the throw from right field in the seventh, but Utah pinch-runner Chandler Anderson slide under the tag at home. Then Utah’s Hoffman doubled over the head of Eric Urry in left field.

BYU had chances in the second, third and sixth innings with the bases loaded and two aboard with two out the other two times.

In the fifth, Brennon Lund tried to jump-start the Cougars in an attempt to extend a single to a double but was thrown out to end that frame.  The Cougars stranded runners at second and third in the sixth after scoring their only run.

BYU’s Hayden Nielsen led off with a single in the sixth and scored when Colton Shaver picked up the second of his three singles on the night.

Nielsen made his first appearance on the mound as a Cougar, moving from shortstop to toe the rubber in the seventh inning before taking a rest from the contest.

“We knew tonight we were going to have to score some runs and we didn’t do that on the offensive side; we showed up in a way, but not with key hits,” Littlewood said.

The Cougars return to WCC play on Thursday when they host Santa Clara to start a three-game series with all games beginning at 6 p.m.

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