Rucker goes the distance as BYU wins series opener against LMU

BYU improved to 19-2 (3-1 WCC) with a 4-1 win over LMU. Michael Rucker paced the Cougars throwing 9 innings and striking out 8 batters.

Provo, UT – It was a pitcher’s duel in Provo Thursday night.

The Cougars threw Michael Rucker who improved to 5-0 on the season with a win in the series opener against West Coast Conference foe, Loyola Marymount.

With the win, BYU improved to 19-2 and 3-1 in WCC play while LMU slid to 9-13 and 2-2 in WCC play.

Rucker showed why he’s the Cougars’ ace going the distance, throwing nine complete innings and holding LMU to one run on three hits. He also struck out eight batters and only allowed one extra base hit – a triple in the top of the sixth inning that led to his only allowed run.

“I’ve never done anything like that in my career,” said Michael Rucker. “For the most part I’ve been a closer, during my first year at Gonzaga and half of last year. It was great to get that out of the way and know what that feels like.”

Rucker’s gem came with the aid of his defense who made plays when it mattered. BYU turned three double plays in the top of the second, third, and seventh innings. When LMU began knocking, his team came to his aid when he needed them.

“Our defense has been a real key for this team and will continue to be going forward,” said Rucker. “It’s a confidence for me to have those guys behind me and know they’ll make their plays. They’ve put the work in all fall and it’s showed.”

LMU had a gem of their own from starting pitcher J.D. Busfield who threw six innings and held BYU to just two runs on five hits. Coming into the game, Busfield was 1-1 and had struck out 31 batters in 33.1 innings and had only walked a single batter.

The Cougars struck early with the bats as Brennon Lund led the game off with a triple to right-center. Lund scored on a sacrifice fly from Tanner Chauncey to put BYU up 1-0.

BYU matched with another run in the second inning when Colton Shaver led off the inning with a single. Shaver was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice from Brennon Anderson. Anderson later advanced to third after stealing second base and continued on after a throwing error by the catcher who attempted to throw him out. Anderson then scored on a single up the middle from breakout freshman Keaton Kringlen to put BYU up 2-0.

Rucker found himself in a bit of a jam when Ryan Erickson hit a triple to start things off in the top of the sixth inning. He crossed home plate on a sacrifice bunt from Spencer Erdman. BYU found themselves in a 2-1 ball game.

The ‘Bat Cats’ were held in check until Harrison Simon came into the game for Busfield in the bottom of the seventh.

Kringlen started things off for the Cougars with a single up the middle. He was scored on a single from Brennon Lund and advanced due to a throwing error. Lund was then driven in by Hayden Nielsen who singled to left field which ended the scoring and put BYU up 4-1.

Over the final two frames, Rucker picked up four of his eight K’s and finished strong by getting three-straight outs in the bottom of the ninth.

Offensively, BYU was led by Brennon Lund who finished 2-for-4 with two runs, an RBI, and a triple. Keaton Kringlen also went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI.

The Cougars will be back in action for a Friday matinee at Miller Park. First pitch is at 3 pm and the game will be broadcast on ESPN 960 with Brent Norton on the call.

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