Nate Slack | Posted: 21 Apr 2021 | Updated: 7 May 2021

Cougars beat Utes on back-to-back homers in seventh

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Martha Epenesa waits for pitch against Utah

PROVO, Utah – Back-to-back home runs by Huntyr Ava and Martha Epenesa in the bottom of the seventh resulted in a 7-6 rivalry win for BYU softball (24-13, 3-0 WCC) over Utah at Gail Miller Field on Tuesday night. It was the Cougars' 13th straight victory.

"It was a great win in a tremendous atmosphere," said BYU head coach Gordon Eakin. "The home fans were great. There were a lot of great plays in the game. It was very emotional to lose the lead but then to come back and win it in the bottom of the seventh with back-to back-home runs."

Game Highlights

  • BYU jumped on top early with a five-run second inning, thanks to three hits and aggressive base-running by the Cougars.
  • Utah took the lead on a grand slam in the top of the seventh. With the Cougars down one, Huntyr Ava took advantage of the opportunity and tied the game with a blast over the center field wall that exploded off her bat.
  • Martha Epensa followed up Ava’s home run with a homer of her own, sending another no-doubter out of the park in left center to walk it off for BYU.

Player Highlights

  • HannahJo Peterson: 2-4, 2 RBI, 1 R
  • Huntyr Ava: 2-4, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 HR
  • Martha Epenesa: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR
  • Arissa Paulson: 2-2, 1 R
  • Autumn Moffat-Korth: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 K

In the bottom of the second inning, Marissa Chavez logged the third hit of the day for the Cougars with a single into left and was moved to second with a sacrifice bunt by Alyssa Podhurcak. Arissa Paulson singled up the middle to put runners on the corners for Autumn Moffat-Korth. Moffat-Korth reached on a fielder’s choice and was able to advance to second on the throw. Paulson was able to move up to third base and the hit also brought in Chavez for the Cougars’ first run of the day. Lo Salcedo came in to pinch-run for Moffat-Korth.

BYU took a 2-0 lead on a passed ball, advancing Salcedo to third with Rylee Jensen at the plate. HannahJo Peterson followed up a Jensen walk with a triple down the right field line, bringing in both Jensen and Salcedo to take a 4-0 lead.   

Violet Zavodnik brought in the fifth Cougar run of the inning as she grounded out to second.

Chavez robbed the Utes of their second hit of the game to lead off the fourth with an impressive diving grab at shortstop. Moffat-Korth preserved her dominant pitching performance heading into the fifth, retiring the Utes in order and striking out her third batter of the day to close out the inning.

Paulson picked up her second hit of the game with a grounder that just snuck under the shortstop’s glove to get things going in the bottom of the fourth, but back-to-back pop-outs put the Cougars in a two-out jam that was followed with a groundout to first. Paulson became the third BYU runner left on base.

Destiny Quiles put the Utes on the scoreboard for the first time with a two-run shot to right-center with one down in the top of the fifth. It was Quiles’ first home run of the year and just her fourth and fifth runs batted in.

Katie Faulk followed up the home run with a walk and Haley Denning singled up the middle to push Faulk over to second. Moffat-Korth got out of jam with a soft grounder she tossed to first.

The Cougars put themselves in position to get the two runs back, starting with a leadoff walk by Zavodnik. Huntyr Ava collected her first knock of the night to put two runners on to start off the bottom half of the fifth. Martha Epenesa grounded out to the pitcher, but both Zavodnik and Ava were moved into scoring position with just one out. A line out and grounder deep at short ended what looked to be a promising inning for the BYU offense, and the Cougars took a 5-2 lead into the top of the sixth inning.

Utah came out swinging in the sixth, starting out with a single up the middle. Halle Morris grounded into a fielder’s choice and was advanced to third on the next at-bat with a double that went into left center. Carley Brown came in to pitch in relief of Moffat-Korth, who finished the day with 5.1 innings pitched, allowing six hits, two runs and striking out three batters. Brown closed out the inning with no damage done to maintain the 5-2 BYU advantage.  

The first three Utah batters reached in the top of the seventh to load the bases with no outs. The No. 3 hitter for the Utes hit a no-doubter grand slam over the center field fence to give them their first lead of the game, 6-5. After a double, a line drive one-hopped to Jensen in left field who gunned down an aggressive base runner who rounded third for home to keep the deficit at just one run.

Ava demolished a ball to lead off the bottom of the seventh that cleared the center field fence to tie the game at six. Martha Epenesa stepped up to the plate 0-2 on the day with a chance to win it for the Cougars. She took full advantage, launching the ball to nearly the same spot Ava did just before, walking it off for the Cougars. The late-game heroics by Ava and Epenesa resulted in a 7-6 BYU win.

BYU returns to Gail Miller Field on Friday to open a weekend series with the San Diego Toreros. Friday will feature a doubleheader with game one scheduled for a 5 p.m. MDT and the second at approximately 7 p.m. MDT. Both games will be streamed online at BYUtv.