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PROVO — BYU baseball claimed a milestone Saturday night — without playing a game.
Several hours after the No. 24 Cougars’ 3-1 win over Santa Clara in the regular-season finale, BYU added an outright West Coast Conference regular-season championship to the trophy case Saturday night.
Gonzaga’s 8-1 loss to Loyola Marymount, combined with the Cougars’ 2-1 record in the three-game series against Santa Clara, guaranteed BYU’s outright title and No. 1 seed for the upcoming WCC tournament, which will begin May 23 at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, California.
It's the first outright league title for BYU (36-15, 19-8 WCC) since 1989 and the first time the Cougars take the top seed into the WCC tournament. The Cougars, who are in the midst of a historic season, have been to the postseason tournament five times since the conference inaugurated the event in 2013, including a win after four-straight victories in 2017.
Gonzaga and Saint Mary's have also clinched a berth in the conference tournament, while the fourth team will be decided after Sunday’s league games.
In BYU’s win Saturday, Abraham Valdez had a two-run homer to break open a 1-1 tie in the top of the ninth in the win over the Broncos. Reid McLaughlin (7-1) earned the win on the mound for the Cougars, combining with Justin Sterner to hold the Broncos to one run with eight strikeouts in the victory.
UCCU Cross Town Clash ✔️— BYU Baseball (@BYUBaseball) May 19, 2019
Deseret First Duel ✔️
WCC Regular Season Champs ✔️
Not done yet 😤#BYUBASEBALL#GoCougspic.twitter.com/oNaQ6dSRBy
"The guys stepped up today and got it done," BYU coach Mike Littlewood said in a statement from the school. "We got a great start from Justin and Abe came up huge. This was an incredibly tough series."
All games of the tournament will air on TheW.tv and BYU Radio.