PROVO — Sporting a 33-14 record with just four games to play in the regular season, the BYU baseball team can thank their excellent pitching staff for boosting the team to first place in the West Coast Conference standings.
The Cougars’ pitching has been some of the best in program history this season. BYU allowed just 4.07 runs per game and a .249 opponent’s batting average heading into the team’s final home series of the season against San Francisco last weekend. But after winning the series against the Dons Saturday afternoon, the Cougars showed they are capable of getting the job done with their bats as well.
BYU dominated all parts of the game in the series opener on Thursday, running away with a 20-3 victory over the Dons. Senior Jordan Wood, the Cougar’s ace, earned the win while helping the Cougars bounce back from a loss to San Diego State earlier in the week.
Friday was a much different story at Miller Field as San Francisco flipped the script on the Cougars, earning a 9-1 win to split the series at one game apiece heading into the finale Saturday afternoon. Despite the loss, Cougar fans set a record attendance for Miller Field at 3,189.
The Cougars bounced back on Saturday, earning a 17-9 win on senior day thanks to a huge performance from multiple seniors. Brock Hale, who hit a grand slam in the series opener on Thursday night, hit another one Saturday to erase an early 4-0 deficit for BYU.
Later in the game, Casey Jacobsen, another senior, hit a dinger for the Cougars – one of four Cougar home runs on the night. Blake Inouye, another senior, finished strong in his last career game at Miller Field. Inouye earned the win after recording five strikeouts and only one earned run in four and a third innings pitched.
"Our entire team fought hard today, and it was great to see three seniors step up and put the team on their shoulders," BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said after Saturday’s win.
The series win over San Francisco improved the Cougars’ record to 33-14 on the season and 17-7 in conference play – a whole game ahead of second place Gonzaga (16-8) in the West Coast Conference standings with just one in-conference series left for both teams.
BYU will remain in state for its final stint against rival Utah Tuesday before traveling to California for the final conference series of the year against Santa Clara. Both the Utes and the Broncos have struggled to find wins this season, with Utah sitting at 12-30 and Santa Clara at 11-37.
A sweep in Santa Clara next weekend will secure the Cougars a regular season crown in the West Coast Conference and earn the No. 1 seed at the conference tournament later this month. The WCC Tournament features the top four teams from the regular season standings and will begin May 23 in Stockton, California.