By Brett Larsen
At 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 12, the Miller Park era begins for the BYU baseball program.
After 35 straight games outside of Provo, the Cougars will open their new, state-of-the-art facility on a high note, coming in on a six-game winning streak. Their 10-5 league record has them tied for first place in the Mountain West Conference.
But BYU coach Vance Law is more concerned with beating Thursday”s opponent, New Mexico, than with records.
“I try not to worry much about streaks,” he said. “I”m just worried about playing well.”
If the Cougars can keep up their momentum, playing well shouldn”t be a problem.
BYU went 5-0 last week, sweeping Southern Utah in two games before blitzing the University of Utah in three, causing USA Today to name the Cougars the West”s Team of the Week.
BYU”s hot play is partly due to the solid play of the pitching staff. Star hurler Nate Fernley, who is scheduled to start Thursday, picked up his NCAA-best 10th win against the Utes and has a 2.79 ERA. Jeff Stone, who earned his school-record 23rd win against Utah, will start in the Saturday, April 14, third and final game with New Mexico.
“I think we”ll be just fine,” Law said, anticipating continued excellence from his pitchers.
For the Lobos, this week”s series is a good chance to replace BYU in the league”s top spot. Their 8-7 MWC record has them in third place.
“There”s a lot of good teams in this conference,” Law said. “Any team can knock off the top team at any time.”
New Mexico is coming off a 2-1 series victory against UNLV from last week, and has won seven of its last 10 outings. Lobo outfielder Donny Sevieri earned his second MWC Player of the Week award this season for his three-homer, six-RBI performance against the Rebels.
It is fitting for New Mexico to be BYU”s first guest at Miller Park. A year ago, the Lobos and Cougars tangled after a groundbreaking ceremony for the new facility.
Although construction on the new park is not complete, the Cougars are happy to be there.
“It”ll be nice to play at home,” Law said. “It”s very exciting to play at a really wonderful baseball park.”
The official grand opening ceremonies for Miller Park are scheduled for Saturday, April, 21.
In the meantime, the Cougars and Lobos will play again on Friday, April 13, at 5 p.m. and on Saturday, April 14, at 1 p.m.