By W Kolditz
In its Thursday night, March 20, home opener against the UNLV Rebels, the BYU baseball team battled back from a 5-3 deficit only to lose the game 6-5 to a Patrick Dobson ninth inning home run.
For the third straight week, junior Jeff Mousser (3-2) had trouble early in the game. In the first three innings, the Rebels scored five runs on four hits off Mousser. Four of the runs game in the third inning.
“There”s a reason your starters are starters,” coach Vance Law said. “They can battle through some tough times. I”m very confident in what Jeff brings out to the mound. He”s been a strong pitcher for us all year, and that”s the reason you got to stay with some of those guys.”
After the rough third inning, Mousser retired the next 19 Rebels he faced before giving up the game winning home run to Dobson.
“Jeff pitched well,” Law said. “Even though his pitch count was up a little bit, I still felt like he was in command. I don”t second guess myself for not changing pitchers because he was still going strong.”
The first run of the game came in the first inning, when Rebels junior third baseman Brent Johnson hit his sixth home run of the season over the right-field fence.
The Cougars came right back in their half of the inning, with senior first baseman Jake Stubblefield hitting a two-run home run to score center fielder Doug Jackson.
With the home run, Stubblefield extended his team-leading hitting streak to 13 games.
The Rebels took a 5-3 lead in the third inning after scoring four runs on three base hits.
In the fourth inning, the Cougars scored one run to close in on the Rebels” 5-4 lead. BYU”s batting leader shortstop Ranger Wiens hit an RBI single, but was thrown out by the right fielder when he tried to stretch the single into a double.
After three scoreless innings, BYU junior center fielder Brock Jacobsen tied the game at five with a solo home run to dead center in the bottom of the eighth inning. The home run broke a string of eleven Cougars retired in a row by senior reliever Giovanni Pupo, who replaced Lucca in the bottom of the fifth.
BYU now falls to 6-13 and 1-3 in the Mountain West Conference while UNLV improves to 18-7 and 4-0.
The Cougars play game two of the three game series with UNLV Friday, March 21.