Hawaiian punch: Aloy helps BYU baseball walk off with 1st season sweep of Utes since 2003

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PROVO — Kuhio Aloy wasn't having his best day at the plate going into the final inning of BYU baseball's series finale against rival Utah.

The freshman from Maui, Hawaii, was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts before he stepped to the plate in a tie game with two outs and the bases loaded.

His final swing made up for it as he quickly etched his name into Beehive State baseball lore.

Aloy drove in Ryker Schow to help the Cougars to a 5-4 walk off win in their first series sweep of the Utes since 2003 Tuesday night in front of a standing room-only crowd of 2,639 fans at Miller Park.

Brock Watkins went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI, Parker Goff added a double, and Stone Cushing earned his first win of the season with a one-pitch appearance in the top of the eighth for the Cougars (16-21, 6-15 Big 12).

"I was looking to do something big for the team," Aloy said. "All we needed was one run, and it came in. I tried to take it all in, last at-bat, bases loaded, big crowd behind us and everybody rooting me on to come up big.

"I was struggling at the plate for the first part of the day, but I put it all behind me," he added. "This was the bat that mattered. I just had to hit it hard and make it hard for them to make a play. I just hit the ball in the right spot."

Core Jackson was 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI, and TJ Clarkson added a towering home run to spark a four-run fourth that gave the Utes (26-13, 11-7 Pac-12) a 4-2 lead they would hold until the final two frames.

But Utah, which scored four runs on seven hits, left 11 runners stranded to BYU's 10, was held scoreless in every other inning before Micah Ashman — who ranks third in the country in saves with 10 — gave up one run on just two hits in the eighth to take only his second loss of the year.

Payton Gubler, the sophomore with an 8.74 ERA in eight appearances, pinned down the Utes for three innings before giving up the four-run fourth on two hits.

Candon Dahle, Luke Sterner, Carter Foss and Boston Mabeus took it the rest of the way, combining for five scoreless innings with just four hits allowed to set up Cushing's one-pitch relief in the top of the eighth.

All the reliever who ranks tied for 11th in the NCAA with seven saves had left was inducing one grounder — and let his offense do the rest.

"Our pitching staff was awesome," BYU coach Trent Pratt said. "Payton was good for three innings, and I think he got a little tired when we tried to stretch him out. But then everyone after that did an awesome job, and for us to only keep it at four was a good job."

Watkins' RBI double in the bottom of the eighth tied the game at 4-all, scoring Cooper Vest from first with a full-count fastball to the left-field wall.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Vest was hit by a pitch to load the bases. That set up Aloy, who walked it off with a single that caromed off Jackson's glove from an awkward angle to hand BYU its first back-to-back series wins over Utah since 2015-16 and lift the Cougars to 251-128-1 all-time in the rivalry.

"The moment is never too big for him; he doesn't get too caught up in it," Pratt said of Aloy. "He gets excited, and he wants to be in those big spots. I think that's pretty unique as a freshman; his heart rate stays down, and he wants to get a hit right there. You can see it in his eyes, and he did a good job for us tonight."

BYU hits the road beginning Thursday to face No. 19 Oklahoma State at 5 p.m. MDT.

Utah returns to Pac-12 play hosting UCLA on the weekend. First pitch Friday from Smith's Ballpark is scheduled for 6 p.m. MDT.

The Utes are currently tied for second with No. 22 Oregon following back-to-back series wins over Washington and Arizona State.


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