khaner | Posted: 11 Mar 2017 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

Cougars sweep a pair of thrillers

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FRESNO, Calif. – In a pair of back-and-forth thrillers, No. 25 BYU softball swept its doubleheader, defeating Sacramento State 9-4 and Fresno State 8-6 in eight innings in the final day of the Fresno State Invitational on Saturday.

“Today we had two great team wins," BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. "Our pitching in both games was exceptional. Fresno State is a great team; they have great fans and it is a really hard venue to win in. As coaches, we are extremely proud of the way our players competed to get a great win against Fresno State."

BYU (14-7, 0-0 West Coast Conference) finished the tournament with a 3-1 record. Sophomore Lexi Tarrow led the Cougars from the plate, going 5 for 8 on the day with three runs and two RBI. Senior McKenna Bull led the pitching effort with eight strikeouts in the win over the Bulldogs.

Game one

Despite getting outhit 9-8, BYU defeated Sacramento State (6-9-1, 0-0 Big Sky) 9-4 in a back-and-forth game. Arianna Paulson came in partway through the game to pitch, leading the Cougars to victory by giving up just one hit. Libby Sugg led the batters by going 2 for 3 with four RBI and one run.

Sacramento State’s pitcher Taylor Tessier started out strong, throwing five strikeouts in the first two innings. However, one walk in the top of the second came back to haunt the Hornets. Ashley Thompson was walked and an illegal pitch and two stolen bases later, she would score.

The lead was short-lived, however, as Sacramento State responded with two runs in the bottom of the second. After an illegal pitch negated a strikeout, the Hornets hit a solo home run to get going. An RBI single with the bases loaded put BYU down 2-1 after two.

BYU took back the lead in the top of the fourth. Singles from Alexa Strid and Caitlyn Larsen Alldredge brought in two runs, putting the Cougars up 3-2. However, the lead changes continued as a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth got the Hornets back on top 4-3.

The back and forth kept going in the top of the fifth as BYU took a 6-4 lead. Tarrow hit a single to score Brooke Vander Heide, and in the next at bat, Sugg drilled a double to right center, scoring two more runs. In the bottom frame, the Cougar defense and Arianna Paulson’s tough pitching made the Hornets go three up, three down for the first time in the game.

BYU added three more runs to its total in the top of the seventh. After Tarrow hit a triple to get on third, Sugg hit a home run over left field. Then a double from Strid brought in Thompson, making it a 9-4 lead, which would hold as the final score.

BYU vs. Sacramento State Box Score

Game two

In the final game of the invitational, BYU made up its loss last night by defeating Fresno State (15-9, 0-0 Mountain West) 8-6 in an extra-innings thriller. This was the first game of the year that the Cougars played an extra-innings game. Bull pitched all eight innings for the Cougars, picking up her 10th win of the year behind eight strikeouts. It was her fifth complete extra-innings game. Lauren Bell led the team at the plate, notching a career-high four hits on 4 of 5 hitting with two RBI and two runs.

To start the game, BYU scored two runs to get an early advantage. The first run was scored off of a single by Tarrow to left field, bringing in Rylee Jensen. Two batters later, Thompson executed a squeeze bunt that hugged the right sideline, giving Bell a chance to run home.

Fresno State took the lead in the bottom of the third after scoring four runs. A pair of two-run singles gave the Bulldogs the 4-2 advantage after three innings.

In the top of the fifth, BYU tied the game up at 4-4. Strid drilled a double down the left line to score Tarrow and Bell.

Following two scoreless innings for the Bulldogs, they brought one home in the bottom of the sixth. Vander Heide gunned out the runner heading home two at bats later to end the inning. Fresno State took a slim 5-4 lead heading into the final inning.

The Cougars fought to keep the game alive in the top of the seventh. Bell led off with a single that dropped in the middle of the field to spark the rally. With a full count and runners on second and third, Thompson hit a sacrifice fly to right field, allowing Bell time to tag up and score to tie the game 5-5, eventually forcing an extra inning.

BYU started the eighth with a bang, bringing in three runs. With two outs and runners on second and third, Jensen hit a double to the left field fence, bringing in the two runners. In the next at bat, Bell hit another double to score Jensen, pushing the lead to 8-5.

Despite giving up one run in the bottom of the eighth, two strikeouts from Bull completed the win for the Cougars, getting revenge on last night’s loss with an 8-6 victory.

BYU vs. Fresno State Box Score

The Cougars will finally hold their home opener next week at Gail Miller Field with doubleheaders against Maine and Wagner on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.