BYU baseball sweeps Santa Clara

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(Ari Davis)

The Cougars swept Santa Clara May 4-6 to extend their winning streak to nine games and improve their overall record to 29-14.

For the first three innings of the opening game on Thursday night, BYU trailed Santa Clara until Brock Hale’s two-run home run in the fourth tied the game. Then in the sixth inning, Colton Shaver’s two-run blast, his 10th of the season, put the Cougars up 5-3, giving them the lead for good.

Home runs by Hale, Shaver and Kyle Dean led BYU to the 9-3 win.

“Our hitters did a great job of making in-game adjustments at the plate,” said BYU coach Mike Littlewood. “It was a great start to the weekend for us.”

Maverik Buffo pitched eight innings on Thursday and helped seal the victory with an impressive nine strikeouts.

“Everything felt good,” Buffo said. “I’ve got a great team to back me up. I’ve gone back to the basics and it has worked out. My team battled at the plate, and I knew we would come around and they would take care of me.”

In round two of the three-game series on Friday, Tanner Chauncey hit a two-run home run in the first inning to give BYU an early lead. Chauncey, who has not struck out in his last 83 at-bats, remains the nation’s toughest batter to punch out.

Santa Clara fought back to tie the game at 3-3 after three innings.

The Broncos continued to exchange runs with BYU until the sixth inning when Nate Favero, who led BYU with a double and a pair of singles, plated both Shaver and Kringlen for an 11-6 lead.

“Thank goodness our hitters showed up tonight,” Littlewood said. “We needed every run possible.”

BYU added a couple more runs in the latter innings to give the Cougars the 13-7 victory.

The Cougars came out strong in the beginning of game three and tallied 14 hits on the afternoon, never trailing after taking a 3-0 lead in the first inning.

Favero accounted for BYU’s final five runs of the game and went 8-for-13 with nine RBIs in the sweep over the Broncos.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our effort this weekend,” Littlewood said.

With the series sweep, the Cougars maintained their first place standing in the West Coast Conference. As of May 8, BYU sits at 17-4 in conference play while second place Loyola Marymount is 17-5.

The top four teams in the conference advance to the tournament at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, California.

Those teams will compete in a double-elimination bracket, with the winner receiving the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament that begins in June.

The Cougars will return to Provo on Tuesday May 9 at 6 p.m. to host the University of Utah in another round of the Deseret First Duel.

Following the single rivalry game, BYU will host Portland in a three-game series at home May 11-13 before UVU comes to Provo for a single game May 16.

The Cougars will wrap up the regular season with a three-game series at Gonzaga beginning May 18.