BYU Baseball continued their hot streak with their tenth straight win, a shut out against rival Utah.
Provo, UT – Most have heard the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well, BYU Baseball Coach Mike Littlewood has applied that to his pitching staff and changed it to, “It takes a staff to pitch a shutout.”
Playing against rival Utah in a midweek tune up, BYU went deep into the pitching staff to stymie the Utes. Maverik Buffo got the start for the Cougars but only went one inning as BYU used the game as an opportunity for pitchers to get live action opposed to a bullpen session.
Following Buffo, the Cougars also threw Hayden Rogers in the second, Easton Walker in the third, and Riley Gates in the fourth. Gates finished with the win – his third of the season – as the Cougar offense broke it open in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Despite the dominant performance from the pitching staff, it took a while for BYU’s bats to wake up, it looked like they’d been affected by daylight saving. But, once they got on track, it was hard to stop them as BYU finished with a 6-0 win. The win extended BYU’s all-time series lead to 242-114 in a series that dates back to 1895.
The Cougar offense broke open the scoring in the bottom of the fourth scoring two runs after Eric Urry reached base when he was hit by pitch. He scored when Brennon Anderson had a stroke to right center and was able to leg out a triple. Brock Hale followed up driving in Anderson on a base hit up the middle.
The Cougar pitching staff hit a small snag in the top of the fifth as Zach Brinkerhoff entered the game but threw seven straight balls. Coach Mike Littlewood went to Keaton Cenatiempo who came out and warmed up but didn’t enter the game as Utah’s Head Coach argued his entrance. Brinkerhoff remained for one more batter surrendering a hit to Ellis Kelly before Cenatiempo officially entered the game and went two innings.
“Keaton Cenatiempo came in in a tough spot and got a couple huge outs for us and set the tone the rest of the way,” said Coach Littlewood. “That was the biggest inning of the game.”
BYU built on their momentum as they took to the plate in the bottom of the fifth and picked up another three runs as Tanner Chauncey hit a double to the right side and Eric Urry traded places by hitting a drive to left field which landed out of the reach of Utah’s Kody Davis. Colton Shaver followed up with a shot over the scoreboard in left field driving in himself and Urry.
Shaver has had his way as a hitter against the Utes. Last year as a freshman, he hit four home runs in three games against the Utes and stretched that total to five with Tuesday’s bomb.
“For some reason he does well [against those guys] if we could play Utah and Utah Valley every game, he’d, well he’s already an All-American,” said Coach Littlewood. “His potential is to get that one pitch and hit it a long way.”
Bo Burrup pitched two innings for the Cougars, entering the game in the seventh he quickly picked up two strikeouts but found himself in a jam in the eighth inning. With runners on second and third and only one out, Burrup was able to keep the shutout intact by forcing Dallas Carroll to pop out to shallow center and followed that up with a ground out to shortstop from DaShawn Keirsey.
BYU added one final security run in the bottom of the eighth when Nate Favero and Bronson Larsen reached base on a hit and hit by pitch, respectively and Favero scored when Brennon Lund struck out swinging on a ball in the dirt. The runners advanced and Utah Catcher Zack Moeller made a throwing error to third base.
BYU closer Mason Marshall entered the game in the top of the ninth attempting to finish the shut out, Marshall led the inning off with a strikeout but allowed two quick singles as the Utah batters fought to get on the scoreboard. With runners on first and second, Marshall was able to get a ground ball for short stop Hayden Nielsen and an attempt at a double play to end the game, Nielsen flipped the ball to Brennon Anderson to force out the runner at second, but the batter beat the throw to first by half a step.
BYU now had two outs with runners on the corner with Utah’s leading hitter, Kellen Marruffo up to bat. Marruffo jammed himself on a pitch on the inside corner of the plate, dribbling the ball down the first base line which Marshall scooped up and tagged out Marruffo before reaching first.
BYU will begin league play with a three game series against Pacific beginning Thursday at 6 pm followed by Friday at 6 pm and Saturday at 1 pm. Those games can be heard on ESPN 960 AM and on espn960sports.com with Brent Norton on the call.