By Adam Olsen
OREM- Defense dominated the night and outs came in twos at Wolverine Stadium on TMay 2, but BYU Cougar baseball finally broke through to score the 2-1 win over the UVSC Wolverines in extra innings.
In the longest game of the season for BYU, clocking in at just a shade under four hours, the Cougars extended their winning streak to four.
It wasn”t until third baseman Steve Parker hit a monster shot off the left field wall in the twelfth that BYU finally put the game away. Apana Nakayama, who got on base with a single, was able to score the game-winning run off Parker”s hit.
“I just tried to stay behind it,” Parker said. “I knew I could get a great hit if I didn”t rush my swing.”
It was a defensive struggle, and both teams were held scoreless through seven innings.
Parker said the key to defensive games like this is to stay excited. “You have to try to stay up during these games,” he said. “It”s hard to stay really excited in a defensive game, but you”ve got to”
Runs were hard to come by on both sides, and both the Cougars and the Wolverines displayed steely defense, turning a combined 9 double plays; one away from an NCAA record.
“I like that a lot,” said coach Vance Law, speaking of his team”s ability to turn the double play. “We played good defense, but you don”t get that kind of defense without good pitching.”
Blaine Howell pitched eight shutout innings for the Cougars before finally giving up a solo home run to Wolverine shortstop Eli Slesk.
“Our pitching was outstanding.” Law said. “Howell was as good as he”s ever been for us. We squandered some opportunities early … but fortunately we were able to prevail.”
Howell, who recorded seven strikeouts, said his team”s solid defense allowed him to be aggressive on the mound.
“When the defense is playing like that I”ve got more confidence to pitch in more spots,” he said. “I can throw the ball in more places because I know the defense will take care of it if they get a hit.”
“There was great defense all around,” he said. “The defense really pulled up big for us today.”
Cougar right fielder Leon Johnson ignited the Cougar defense in the second inning when he raced back to make an over-the-shoulder grab. Johnson then completed the double play, catching Wolverines” left fielder Austin Heaps at first.
The Cougar defense came through again in the fourth when second baseman Kent Walton sparked yet another double play with a diving catch and throw to knock out UVSC”s Jace Brinkerhoff and Derrick Thomas.
BYU finally lit up the scoreboard in the eighth when pinch runner Collin Fanning scored on a double from Johnson. UVSC came back when it counted, though, and Slesk”s solo shot to center field sent the game into extra innings.
Next up, the Cougars travel to Albuquerque to take on the University of New Mexico Lobos. The Cougars and the Lobos will meet today, Friday and Saturday.