Cougar Sports With Ben Criddle

BYU Baseball Improves to 17-1 in Conference Opening Win

BYU improved to 17-1 on the season and picked up their first conference win with a 19-3 victory over Pacific. Michael Rucker picked up his fourth win of the season and Brennon Anderson went 4-for-6 with 4 RBI, scoring 2 runs and hitting 2 2B.

Provo, UT – It was a parade of hits in Provo on Thursday night. The #29 BYU Cougars continued on their historic start improving to 17-1 and 1-0 in WCC play with a 19-3 win over the Pacific Tigers (6-11, 0-1 WCC).

The Cougars put the ball in the hand of ace Michael Rucker who improved his record to 4-0 with the win. Rucker kept the Tiger’s bats at bay, fanning seven batters while holding Pacific to two runs on four hits through six inning on the bump.

“Rucker had a solid outing,” said Coach Littlewood. “His velocity was there at 92-95. He struggled a bit with his slider but instead of being a power guy, he was a pitcher. He told me his legs were tired after the fourth but I challenged him to gut it out so we didn’t have to dig deep into our bullpen.”

With Rucker in command on the bump, BYU’s offense set the pace jumping out to a 2-0 lead after the first inning. One and two batters Brennon Lund and Hayden Nielsen didn’t waste any time rebounding from a combined 0-for-10 night against rival Utah earlier in the week.

Lund led the game off with a line drive single up the middle which Nielsen followed up with a triple to right field. Nielsen crossed home plate on a sac fly to right field from Eric Urry.

Lund finished the game 3-for-6 scoring 5 runs and collected an RBI and a double while Nielsen 2-for-5 scoring one run and picking up two RBIs and one triple.

The Cougar bats kept it going in the bottom of the second and third innings adding another four runs in each frame.

Anderson led off the second inning with a double and scored when Brock Hale reached base on a throwing error by the SS that went out of play. Hale scored when Nate Favero doubled to right field and was driven in when Brennon Lund reached base on a shallow fly ball to centerfield. Lund got a good jump on a wild pitch and reached third base and was able to be driven in by Tanner Chauncey when he singled to left.

“We’re doing a good job of not chasing balls out of the zone,” said Coach Littlewood. “We have a really good approach right now.”

The Cougars extended the lead to double-digits in the third inning when Colton Shaver led off reaching base when he was hit in the foot by a wild pitch. Fellow former Jordan Beatdigger Brennon Anderson advanced Shaver to third base on a base hit.

Following Cougars began to move around the bases like clockwork as Favero singled to right field scoring Shaver. Bronson Larsen followed up with a single up the middle scoring Anderson. Hayden Nielsen picked up another RBI driving in Favero on a hit to right field and Larsen scored when Tanner Chauncey reached base on a fielding error by Pacific’s shortstop.

Pacific was on the attack in the top of the fourth picking up two runs off of Rucker. BYU missed an opportunity to get out the first two batters when Rucker struck out Gio Brusa swinging at a ball in the dirt, but Bronson Larsen was unable to get to the ball before Brusa reached first.

Brusa moved around the bases on a wild pitch and then to third on a single from JJ Wagner. Brusa scored on a single from Louis Mejia who extended his season best hitting streak to nine straight. Rucker answered by striking out Lucas Halstead to get to out number two, but Pacific struck back once more on a hit by JP Yakel which scored JJ Wagner. The inning ended when Jimmy Boras grounded out to Tanner Chauncey at first base.

BYU responded with another four run inning in the bottom of the fifth to go up 14-2. Brennon Lund reached base on a dropped third strike and advanced to second on a hit-and-run from Hayden Nielsen. Tanner Chauncey reached base on a walk and Eric Urry took a pitch in the leg to load up the bases with Colton Shaver due up.

Shaver took an 0-1 fastball to left center field driving in all three runs and picking up a double. Shaver scored when Brennon Anderson hit a single to the left side that the third baseman was unable to get to.

“The biggest thing for Colton is putting someone behind him who can protect him,” said Coach Littlewood. “Brennon is that guy and he’s having a great year and has had a great approach this year.”

The Cougars added another run to their tally in the bottom of the fifth when Brennon Lund doubled to right field and was driven in by Tanner Chauncey when he hit a single to right field.

Starting pitching Michael Rucker headed to the training room with BYU up 15-2. Easton Walker entered the game in relief, holding Pacific from adding any more runs over his first two innings.

BYU finished up the offensive onslaught in the bottom of the eighth adding four more runs to bring the game to 19-2.

Lund reached base on a fielding error by Pacific’s second baseman who let a routine ground ball between his legs. Daniel Schneeman enter the game for Hayden Nielsen and picked up a hit advancing Lund to third base.

Tanner Chauncey took full advantage off runners in scoring position and picked up an RBI on a double to left center. Noah Hill reached base on a walk bringing Brennon Anderson up to bat with loaded bases.

Anderson picked up three RBI’s on a double to left field putting BYU up by 17. Anderson finished the game 4-for-6 with four RBIs and two doubles.

Pacific looking for a moral victory picked up one more run in the ninth frame with Walker taking to the bump. Walker allowed a single to the first batter he faced but got out the lead runner on a ground ball to short stop.

The runner [Margiotta] advanced to second on a ball hit to first base and crossed home plate after a blooper single to right field from McKay Koissian.

Walker finished the game by fielding a ground ball hit back to him securing the 19-3 victory. Walker picked up his first save of the season going three innings allowing two hits, one run, and striking out two after facing twelve batters.

BYU will play two more games against Pacific this weekend; Friday at 6pm, and Saturday at 1pm. Those games can be heard on ESPN 960 with Brent Norton on the call.

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