Cougar baseball in Texas for season opener
PROVO, Utah – BYU baseball opens the 2021 season this weekend with a four-game series at Texas State in San Marcos. The series includes a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon and single games Monday and Tuesday.
The Cougars return 26 players from 2020, including six position starters and at least three other players with significant starts in the pandemic-shortened season. Taking the hill for game one Saturday is lefty sophomore Cy Nielson. Jack Sterner, a righthanded sophomore, will start game two.
“We are excited to get our season underway,” said BYU head baseball coach Mike Littlewood. “This is the best pitching depth we’ve had since I’ve been at BYU. We have a lot of guys with great velocity, good command and who can really pitch. We struggled a little bit on offense in the shortened season last year, but I like the improvement we’ve seen this fall. The guys are ready to go and we are anxious to play.”
Saturday’s doubleheader will be broadcast live on ESPN+ with the first pitch of game one scheduled for 12:02 p.m. CST. Game two will begin at approximately 4:00 p.m. CST or about 30 minutes after the completion of the first game. ESPN+ play-by-play announcer Brant Freeman will have the call, with former TSU baseball coach Ty Harrington as analyst. Live statistics for the entire series will be available at statbroadcast.com.
Monday’s 4:02 p.m. CST game is not scheduled for radio or television broadcast, only live stats. The final game in the series on Tuesday is slated for broadcast on ESPN+ with the first pitch also scheduled for 4:02 p.m. CST.
The Cougars and the Bobcats have never met in baseball. The two schools met in football for the first time last fall at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Oct. 24. The No. 11 ranked BYU defeated Texas State 52-14.
BYU Cougars (0-0, 0-0 WCC)
Head Coach: Mike Littlewood
Alma Mater: BYU
Division I Career Record: 222-169 (.568) (9th season)
Record at BYU: Same
Texas State (0-0, 0-0 Sun Belt)
Head Coach: Steven Trout
Alma Mater: TCU
Division I Career Record: 14-4 (.576) (2nd season)
Record at TSU: Same
OFFENSIVE LEADER. Sophomore second baseman Andrew Pintar leads BYU returning starters with a .286 batting average among players with 40 or more at bats. The second baseman also led the Cougars with 16 hits, 12 runs and three doubles.
ON THE BUMP. Sophomore right hander Bryce Robison led the team with a 1.32 ERA among pitchers with six innings or more pitched, while sophomore southpaw Nielson led the team with 27 strikeouts.
NEW FACES. The opening day lineup also features two junior college transfers in first baseman Jacob Wilk from Wharton Community College in Texas and local product Cole Gambill of Alpine, Utah by way of Salt Lake Community College in right field. Wilk hit .391 with 25 hits and 21 RBI in 21 games last season. Gambill also had impressive numbers in 2020, batting .311 with 23 hits and 27 RBI, while score 22 runs in just 24 games.
YOUTH SERVED. A total of 15 freshmen saw action for the Cougars last year, including nine who made at least one appearance in the starting lineup, not counting Cy Nielson who had two starts on the mound.
BY THE NUMBERS. Below is a breakdown of both squads entering the first game of the 2021 baseball season.
2020 Record: 26/10
Starters Returning/Lost: 8/0
Fielders Returning/Lost: 14/5
Pitchers Returning/Lost: 12/5
Newcomers/True Freshmen: 10/5
2019 Record: 36-17
2019 WCC Record: 19-8
2019 WCC Finish: 1st
2020 Record: 14-4
Starters Returning/Lost: 9/0
Fielders Returning/Lost: 14/2
Pitchers Returning/Lost: 14/5
Newcomers/True Freshman: 18/9
2019 Record: 36-20
2019 Sun Belt Record: 20-10
2019 Sun Belt Finish: 1st