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.
"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.