Cougars Take Series Over Northwestern
MESA, Ariz. – BYU baseball claimed its season opening series with a decisive 11-2 victory against Northwestern in game two of a Saturday doubleheader at Sloan Park.
The Cougars improved to 2-1 on the year after winning Friday’s game against the Wildcats, 4-3, and losing a close contest in Saturday’s first game by a 3-2 score.
“I’m extremely happy with the effort we showed today,” BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said. “Our hitters showed great resiliency and our pitchers pounded the zone all day. Brock [Hale]’s home run in game two was huge because it allowed the rest of the team to relax and settle in.”
- Northwestern scored all three of its runs in the third inning
- Jackson Cluff hit RBI-singles in the sixth and eighth innings
- Jackson Cluff: 3-3, 2 RBI, HBP
- Justin Sterner: L (0-1), 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 3 BB, 6 K
- Reid McLaughlin: 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 4 K
In game one, the Cougars held Northwestern to one inning of three runs, but the comeback fell short in a 3-2 loss.
Making the first start of his career, sophomore pitcher Justin Sterner struck out five through two innings before running into trouble in the third. A single with runners on the corners gave Northwestern the first run of the game; two bases-loaded walks then scored two more to put the Wildcats ahead, 3-0.
BYU put its first run on the board in the top of the sixth after three-consecutive singles brought Hale home. Down a run in the eighth with two outs, the Cougars’ Brian Hsu reached on an error before coming around to score on an RBI-single to right field by Cluff.
Freshman Reid McLaughlin pitched four scoreless innings with four strikeouts and three hits in his first game in a Cougar uniform, but BYU went down in order in the top of the ninth to fall by a run.
- BYU scored six runs in the fourth to break the game open
- Five Cougars had multiple hits
- DJ McNew brought in four runs and had three hits in his BYU debut
- Drew Zimmerman earned the win while the Cougars’ three relief pitchers combined for no hits, walks, or runs allowed over four innings
- The 11 runs are the most by the Cougars since scoring 13 against Pepperdine on March 30, 2018 and the nine-run win is the largest margin of victory since winning by 12 at Utah Valley on March 27, 2018
- DJ McNew: 3-5, 2B, 4 RBI, 1 R
- Brock Hale: 3-4, HR, 3 R, RBI, BB
- Carson Matthews: 2-4, 4 RBI, 2B
- Drew Zimmerman: W (1-0), 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 5 BB, 4 K
The BYU offense came alive Saturday’s evening game, leading to an early 5-0 lead before adding more six runs in the fourth inning to ultimately take an 11-2 victory.
The Cougars struck first in the bottom of the inning after Danny Gelalich, Hale and Keaton Kringlen each hit singles to load the bases with two outs. In the first at-bat of his Cougar career, State Fair Community College transfer DJ McNew hit a line drive up the middle to score Gelalich and Hale and put BYU up, 2-0.
Hale scored again in the third, this time off a solo home run to left center that led off the inning. Jackson Cluff, Kringlen and Jaren Hall each walked to load the bases, setting up Carson Matthews’ two-RBI single to left center that pushed the Cougar lead to 5-0.
Northwestern’s best chance to cut into the lead came when the Wildcats loaded the bases in the fourth with one out. The Wildcats scratched across a run in the inning, but a pair of strikeouts by BYU starter Drew Zimmerman on either side of the hit held off any rally.
BYU put the game out of reach in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring six runs and batting around the order. Two walks and a hit by pitch loaded the bases with one out before McNew again came through, hitting a double down the left field line to score Hale and Mitch McIntyre. After Hall was hit by a pitch to load the bases again, a Noah Hill single scored Kringlen and a double straight away by Matthews brought McNew and Hall home safely. A sac fly by Gelalich gave Hill a run scored to round out the Cougar scoring.
McNew finished the game going 3-for-5 with four RBIs and a one run while Matthews added four RBIs as well on two hits. Hale went 3-for-4 with three runs, a walk, and the solo home run.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Drew Zimmerman picked up the win for BYU with five strikeouts over five innings. Sophomore Easton Walker, junior transfer Ben Weese and freshman Austin Deming – all making their initial appearances of the year – combined to allow no runs, hits or walks in the final four innings.
BYU will stay in Arizona over the weekend before moving over to Tempe to play Cal on Monday, Feb. 18, at 11 a.m. MT. The game can be seen live on BYU baseball’s Facebook page with audio on BYU Radio and ESPN 960 and a link to live stats on the BYU baseball schedule page.