Baseball pitches curve into Utes’ winning hopes

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    By David Headrick

    An early Cougar lead combined with solid pitching gave BYU its first home win of the season, over Utah Thursday night.

    The Cougars, who are tied for first with San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference, beat the No. 3 Utes 5-2.

    Sophomore starter Jeff Mousser, who improved his record to 5-2, pitched 8.1 innings, allowing 2 runs on eight hits.

    “I felt the best I felt all year,” Mousser said. “I had a good sharp breaking ball tonight and it kept them off balance.”

    In front of 2,251 fans at Larry H. Miller Field, the Cougars scored their first run in the first inning.

    Lead off hitter Doug Jackson scored off a sacrifice fly by sophomore first baseman Dave Jensen.

    Junior right fielder Matt Carson also scored off sophomore third baseman Rob Itri”s double, giving the Cougars a 2-0 lead.

    Senior catcher Lars Birkeland, who batted 3-3 with two runs, scored when Jackson had a base hit in the second.

    “I”ve been working on my hitting lately,” Bikeland said. “Practice is paying off for me.”

    Freshman centerfielder Ryan Chambers extended the Cougar lead to 4-0 in the fourth when sophomore shortstop Ranger Wiens hit a sacrifice fly.

    Birkeland scored the team”s fifth and final run off a fielding error by senior Ute second baseman Adam Castleton.

    Head coach Vance Law said the team could not simply wait for some one to hit home runs for the Cougars to score.

    “I don”t think you can sit back and hope for home runs,” he said. “It was important for us to execute, and it was real big for us to get on the board first.”

    With eight hits on the game, Law said the game reminded him of his days in the Major Leagues.

    “We didn”t get a whole lot of hits,” Law said, “but the hits that we did get, they counted.”

    Beginning at the top of the fifth, both teams went on a scoring drought that lasted until the ninth inning.

    Senior Utah right fielder Brit Pannier ended the drought when he hit a home run, driving in the only two Ute runs of the game.

    That was enough to relieve Mousser from the mound, who walked off the field to the applause and cheers of both Utah and BYU fans.

    Mousser finished the night throwing 112 pitches, which included striking out 10 Ute batters.

    “I was determined to make it through,” Mousser said despite the ninth-inning home run. “I felt strong the whole game.”

    Junior right-hander Tyler Dabo came in to relieve Mousser and finished the game by preventing any Utah hits and striking out one batter.

    The Cougars will host game two of a three-game series tonight at 7 p.m. and game three, Saturday, April 6, at 8 p.m.

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