By W Kolditz
With a 5-10 start and conference play beginning Thursday March 13 against the University of New Mexico (13-6), experimenting is over for the BYU baseball team.
“It”s crunch time,” BYU junior starting pitcher Michael Bergeron said. “We”ve faced as much adversity as we can possibly think of. A lot of us coming in here aren”t used to facing adversity for this long. It”s a test for all of us.”
The Cougars finished another disappointing road trip last week in a three-game series against Texas Christian University (11-9). After winning the first game, the Cougars lost two straight to the Horned Frogs, including a series ending 16-6 blowout.
“Those games getting blown out, that”s no fun,” Bergeron said. “You”re coming home on the plane or bus, it stinks. Obviously, it”s happened to us a couple of times. We have to start realizing what needs to be done and turn it into actions.”
After missing almost a month with bicep tendonitis, the Cougars welcomed the return of Bergeron.
Trailing 5-4 in game one against TCU, junior starting pitcher Jeff Mousser loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth inning. Bergeron replaced Mousser to try to help minimize the damage.
Bergeron retired the first four batters, allowing the Cougars to remain in the game and eventually win 7-6.
“I came out there and was fired up,” Bergeron said. “I”ve been put in that situation so many times in junior college. It”s just another page in the book. You can”t get too nervous in those situations.”
In game one against TCU, BYU senior leftfielder Doug Jackson tied the school record for triples with 18. He shares the record with Stan Younger (1977-80).
“I”m pretty happy about it, but our team isn”t doing too well,” Jackson said. “We”re losing. That really overshadows everything. While we”re losing and not playing well, I don”t really care about any kind of record.”
Jackson has tripled three times in 15 games this year. If Jackson triples against New Mexico this weekend, the record will be broken. But Jackson said hitting a triple is the last thing on his mind right now.
“A sweep is my main goal,” Jackson said. “Personal achievements come second to me. I”m happier when we win. We just have to find a way to turn it on this weekend. We have to because it”s conference. No excuses. We have to get it done.”
The Lobos are 3-0 in conference after sweeping the Air Force Academy. New Mexico is 8-1 at home this year and has won six straight.
Last year, the Lobos and Cougars split six games with each team winning two of three on its home field.
New Mexico coach Rich Alday needs one more win to surpass Vince Cappelli on the school”s career victory list. In his 14th season with the Lobos, Alday”s record stands at 384-373-2.
The probable pitching rotation for the Cougars begins with Mousser (3-0, 2.18) starting today, Paul Jacinto (0-4, 3.56) Friday and Ken Gravley (1-1, 5.89) Saturday.
The beginning of BYU”s season has been similar to the first part of the 2002 season. In 2002, BYU started conference play with a 5-11 record before eventually winning the Mountain West Conference Tournament.
“This game is a game of ups and downs,” Jackson said. “It”s extreme highs and extreme lows. We just can”t let it get too low.”
The Cougars will play its first home series against UNLV (13-6) next week.