SALT LAKE CITY— Batting around produced a five-run ninth inning en route to a 9-6 defeat Tuesday over rival Utah as BYU baseball won its portion of the Deseret Duel.
The three points earned from baseball in the Deseret Duel gives BYU the overall title by a score of 31-16. Those ninth-inning runs were the difference in the second of three baseball games between BYU and Utah at Spring Mobile Ballpark before 1,215 fans.
“Austin Hall was great, just outstanding,” BYU coach Vance Law said. “He set the tone for the ninth inning and his aggressiveness got everyone up. That ninth inning was an indicator of the heart of this team. I’m glad we played nine innings and not a seven-inning game.”
Hall led off the ninth, lacing a hit to right field which he legged into a double. Hall scored when pinch hitter Dillon Robinson beat out a fielder’s choice instead of a double play. Robinson crossed home plate on Stephen Well’s one-out double off reliever Tyler Wagner with a smash down the right field line to tie the score at 6-6.
“He kept throwing me sliders,” Wells said. “I thought if he threw another one that stayed up, I was going to rip it. It all started when Austin (Hall) got his hit. I felt this was going to be good, and when he hit that laser, I thought `this is it.’”
Wells plated the game-winning run after freshman Tanner Chauncey plopped a triple into no-man’s-land in shallow right field. When Wagner exited the game, after two more Cougars got on base, Cougar senior Alex Wolfe doubled off the right-field fence. Wolfe’s blast scored Wes Guenther for the ninth run, but produced some drama of its own as he nearly passed teammate jubilant, but tardy Brock Whitney on the base path.
“I was pleased with our at bats the whole game,” Law said. “Our pitching was good. Our bullpen did a great job as well. Our team believes we can win. We want to get over that hump where we expect to win. “
With a three-run lead, Law summoned ace freshman reliever Mason Marshall who struck out three Utes in a row to earn his sixth save of the season. Marshall’s save meant fellow reliever Chris Howard was the winning pitcher on the heels of solid mound performances by teammates Marc Oslund, David Parry and starter Cameron Keysor who combined for 13 strikeouts.
BYU gave Keysor a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Wells led off with a single to left field. BYU took a 2-1 lead in the second when Wolfe led with a sharp single ricocheting off the foot of Ute starter Ben Mordini and later scored from Adam Law’s single up the middle. That was the last lead BYU saw in the see-saw battle until the ninth.
Utah chased Keysor from the game in the two-run fifth and extended its lead to 6-4 when Parker Morin hit a solo homer off Oslund in the seventh.
The two teams meet for a final time this season on April 17 in Provo. The Cougars defeated Utah 9-8 a week ago in Salt Lake City.
Meanwhile, Utah readies to host nationally ranked Arizona, while BYU will host league-leading Loyola Marymount in a three-game series starting Thursday.