After 10 road games, BYU baseball begins its home season this Thursday against UC Santa Barbara to start a four-game series.
“It's been three long weeks of tough travel and tough ball games,” BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said. “To say we are happy to be back at Miller Park would be an understatement. We are playing very solid baseball and once we get our entire offense rolling we will be a very tough team to beat.”
Both he Cougars and the Gauchos have gotten off to slow starts, having won four games apiece. BYU is 4-6, while UC Santa Barbara is 4-7. UCSB leads BYU in the series 7-1.
Thursday’s game at 5 p.m. MDT at Larry H. Miller Field will be broadcast live on ESPN 960 AM along with its audio stream paired with BYU Radio and video stream via theW.tv. Friday’s doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. MDT will also be carried via the same media outlets as will Saturday’s noon finale. BYUtv will televise Saturday’s game live.
Maverik Buffo (1-2, 4.50 ERA) will start the four-game series on the mound for the Cougars. Brady Corless (2-0, 1.89) will start on the mound for BYU in the first game on Friday which has been shortened to seven innings. In Friday's nightcap, lefty Hayden Rogers (0-0, 2.38) will start the nine-inning game for the Cougars. Kendall Motes (0-1, 5.14) will be BYU's starting pitcher in Saturday's game.
The Cougars have shown glimpses of their preseason projections. Seven BYU sluggers have hit home runs thus far, led by Bronson Larsen with three and Brock Hale with two. Hale leads the team with an 11-game hitting streak and a .385 batting average, aided by a grand slam in BYU’s 10-2 victory last week. However, the Cougars lost a pair of games by one and two runs last week at CSU Bakersfield in California.
“We were a little snake bitten offensively in the Bakersfield series, but I saw glimpses of the offense I know we are capable of becoming,” Littlewood said.“We just need to concentrate on the here and now and play every game like it's our last.”
The Gauchos were picked in a tie for second place in the preseason coaches’ poll in the Big West Conference.
UCSB finished No. 6 and was one of the eight teams to advance to last year’s College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. The Gauchos tallied a 43-20-1 record and went 1-2 their historic first appearance in the World Series. They had bookend losses to Oklahoma State and Arizona in the CWS and eliminated Miami. UCSB defeated the No. 2 and No. 3 national seeds during its postseason run.