No. 18 BYU swept Portland for the second year in a row at Larry H. Miller Field this weekend.
Thursday night’s game, which BYU won 23-19, was an exciting start to the series.
“I’ve never seen a game like that before,” said Coach Mike Littlewood. “It was just perseverance. I told the guys it was going to be a long game, and we just needed to keep playing.”
The Cougars started out strong in the first inning against the Pilots with five RBIs, including a two-run double by Bronson Larsen.
The Pilots had a strong second inning, answering with three home runs and seven total runs.
BYU managed to retake the lead before the end of the second, scoring an addition four runs, including a home run by Brennon Anderson that soared over the 400-foot mark in center field.
Portland responded with a home run in the top of the third and closed their half of the inning with seven more runs.
The Cougars countered with a long string of singles and a double off the right-center wall by David Clawson in an eight-run third inning to retake the lead at 17-14.
In the fifth inning, Portland scored three runs to tie the game at 17-17.
Larsen hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning, and BYU regained the lead at 22-18.
“It kind of felt like the Utah game a little bit, where you’re just going back and forth, back and forth,” Larsen said. “It was a pretty emotional game.”
In the bottom of the eighth, Anderson hit his first triple of the season and was hit home by Tanner Chauncey on the next play to score BYU’s 23rd run of the night, tying the record for the season.
After the Pilots hit a pop fly in the ninth inning for an out, pitcher Mason Marshall struck out Portland’s last two batters to win the game.
This game came close to tying the record for total runs in a BYU game, which was set in 1987 when the Cougars beat Air Force 32-13.
Game two on Friday started out with BYU taking an early 2-0 lead in the first inning.
The Cougars scored five additional unanswered runs in the bottom of the third to stretch the lead to 7-0.
Brady Corless, who pitched the first seven and a half innings of the game, struck out all three Portland hitters in the fourth.
“Everything felt good,” said Corless. “I just got in my groove and when I get in my groove I throw pitches for strikes and I feel like I can compete against anybody.”
Corless finished the night with 10 strikeouts, giving him 65 for the season so far.
“I can’t say enough about Brady or what he did. He came in and gave us a great start, just what the team needed,” Littlewood said. “It was a great night for us.”
Brock Hale hammered a ball over the head of Portland’s shortstop for two more runs to give BYU a 9-0 lead at the end of the fourth inning.
The Pilots managed to get three runs in the top of the fifth after a double, but BYU’s Nate Favero responded with a triple and added another RBI to give BYU a 10-3 lead after four innings.
Daniel Schneemann had the last RBI of the game in the seventh inning to give the Cougars the 11-3 victory.
Saturday, on Senior Day, BYU put double digits on the board for the third-straight game as it won 16-3 and completed the sweep against Portland.
The Cougars put up 50 total runs in the series.
Seniors Keaton Cenatiempo, Marshall, Chauncey, Larsen and Corless were honored before the third game.
“It always feels good to get a sweep. I’m glad that I was able to do my part,” said starting pitcher Hayden Rogers. “Especially for the seniors, I wanted to send them out on a good note. I love playing on this team.”
Early in the beginning of the game, Hale had the first RBI after hitting Anderson home for a 1-0 lead at the end of the first inning.
In the third inning, after a fly ball was caught for the first out, Schneemann controlled two ground balls to finish the inning and keep the Pilots scoreless.
After three more runs by the Cougars in the fourth inning, Hale hammered a home run over the back wall for three more runs to push the lead to 7-0.
Chauncey had an RBI in the fifth to extend the lead to 8-0.
In the top of the sixth, the Pilots managed to put some runs on the board after a home run and an additional two runs, which closed out the inning at 8-3.
The Cougars put big numbers on the board in the bottom of the seventh inning, scoring eight runs, three of them resulting from consecutive walks issued by the Pilots.
The Cougars’ defense closed out the game in the top of the ninth for BYU to seal the victory.
“We put the pressure on them all weekend, and that resulted in big run totals,” Littlewood said. “It was an exhausting week and it will be good for us to rest.”
The Cougars (32-15 overall, 20-4 West Coast Conference) remain in first place in the WCC. With their fifth series sweep this season, BYU has assured it will make the conference tournament that begins on May 25 as the third seed or higher.