BYU Wins with Opening Day Walk-off
MESA, Ariz. – BYU baseball took the Opening Day victory in dramatic fashion, defeating Northwestern 4-3 in 10 innings on Friday at Sloan Park.
With runners on first and second and two outs in the bottom of the 10th, sophomore Jackson Cluff hit a hard shot to right-center field that brought freshman Carson Matthews home from second for the walk-off victory.
“I can’t say enough about the fight and character we showed tonight,” BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said. “Every guy who took the mound did a great job and we kept grinding at the plate.”
- Jackson Cluff hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th, scoring Carson Matthews after a Matthews single to lead off the inning
- Danny Gelalich hit a triple in the first Cougar at-bat of the game, then scored on a sac fly by Cluff
- The Cougars got out of a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the fourth, turning a 1-2-3 double play before a strikeout ended the inning
- Down 3-1, BYU tied the game in the bottom of the eighth after scoring on a wild pitch and an error
- Carson Matthews: 2-3, 2 R, 1 BB
- Danny Gelalich: 1-3, 3B, 2 R, HBP
- Jarod Lessar: W (1-0), 1.0 IP, 1 K, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB
Playing in his first game for the Cougars since serving a two-year mission, Cluff had two RBIs on the night after also bringing in the first BYU run of the game in the first inning on a sac fly. Sophomore Danny Gelalich, also playing in his first game in two years after returning from a mission, led off the game for BYU with a triple before scoring off the Cluff sacrifice.
BYU maintained the 1-0 lead through five innings behind starter Jordan Wood. The Cougars held off the Wildcats after Northwestern loaded the bases in the fourth, including a 1-2-3 double play and an inning-ending strikeout.
However, Northwestern took a 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth, a margin the Wildcats held until the bottom of the eighth. After BYU loaded the bases, Matthews scored off a wild pitch. Northwestern then coaxed a potential third out on a grounder to the pitcher, but the throw went high, resulting in the runner being safe and Gelalich coming home for the Cougars’ third run.
Junior Jarod Lessar retired the Wildcats in the top of the 10th, setting up the Cougar heroics in the bottom of the inning and giving Lessar the first win of his BYU career.
Matthews went 2-for-3 with two runs and a walk for BYU while Gelalich added two runs on a triple and a hit by pitch.
BYU and Northwestern will play the second game of the series on Saturday at 1 p.m. MT. The game can be seen live on BYU baseball’s Facebook page with audio on ESPN 960 and live stats on the BYU baseball schedule page.
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