BYU baseball’s rewarded for the outright West Coast Conference title — their first regular-season championship in 30 years — was a tough one.
The best pitcher in the league to open the conference tournament.
And LMU’s Cody Paiva got the best of the Cougars.
Trevin Esquerra went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI, and Paiva scattered five hits with 11 strikeouts in a complete-game effort to help Loyola Marymount stun top-seeded BYU, 4-1 in the opening game of the West Coast Conference baseball tournament at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, California.
“He’s a warrior. They went to take him out, and he wasn’t coming out,” BYU assistant coach Brent Haring told BYU Radio after the game. “He just got better and better when he needed to.
“I thought our guys got in and tried to battle with him. But he was tough today.”
Esquerra pulled two back with a home run in the top of the fourth, and the Lions (30-23) rode the shutout until Mitch McIntyre’s base hit scored Jaren Hall from second in the bottom of the ninth.
McIntyre went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI to lead BYU (36-16), and Austin Deming went 1-for-4 with a double.
List of pitchers with 10 K’s in a #WCCchamps game:— TheW.tv (@TheWtv) May 24, 2019
Brandon Bailey, Gonzaga: 17 in 2016
Noah Lowry, Pepperdine: 10 in 2001#WCCsports Pitcher of the Year Codie Paiva, @lmulionsbsb: 10 in 2019
That’s it. That’s the list.
It's also the @DonFranciscos Play of the Game! pic.twitter.com/9AWCqudgP5
The Cougars had just one hit through six innings off Paiva, who was named WCC pitcher of the year earlier in the week. The senior right-hander gave up just one hit through the first six innings en route to the dominant win.
“He just got better and better and better,” Haring said. “You could see in his demeanor that he was going to give it everything he had.”
LMU combined for 10 hits off BYU pitchers Jordan Wood, Bo Burrup, Jarod Lessar, Drew Zimmerman and Austin Deming.
The Cougars, meanwhile, finished with just five hits and two errors — with two of those hits coming in the final frame.
BYU will face the loser of Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s in an elimination game Friday at 1 p.m. MT at Banner Island Ballpark. The Cougars are scheduled to start Pleasant Grove alum Easton Walker with their tournament title hopes on the line.
“Easton’s going tomorrow, and when push comes to shove, 'E' has been our most reliable guy. He gives us the best chance to win,” Haring said.
“We’re just going to go one game at a time. Tomorrow’s game is the only one that matters … and we’ll go from there.”