The BYU baseball team defeated the Portland Pilots in the final two games of a three-game series beginning Thursday night.
The Cougars lost Thursday’s game 11–7, then won Friday’s game 11–7 and Saturday’s game 7–6.
“Collectively we did not give up,” BYU right fielder Kelton Caldwell said. “We did a good job of not quitting.”
The Pilots tallied runs in five of the nine innings on Thursday, while the Cougars only scored in three innings, unable to erase the Portland lead. Portland kept BYU batters at bay by throwing tough pitches early in the game.
“(The pitcher) just really pounded the zone and threw strikes,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “I think the first inning was probably the key inning. We had the bases loaded with one out and just didn’t get the job done.”
BYU reversed the score on Friday, defeating Portland 11–7 after gaining the lead by scoring six runs in the fourth inning.
BYU’s big hitters were outfielders Jaycob Brugman and Kelton Caldwell with three hits each, as well as infielder Nate Favero who tallied two hits of his own. Pitcher Desmond Poulson threw seven innings on a sprained ankle.
“(Poulson is) just a guy that isn’t going to give in and he is going to find a way to beat you,” Littlewood said. “You just love his attitude.”
Jaycob Brugman knocked a three-run homer to right field in the fourth inning to sustain the Cougars’ lead.
“That was huge,” Littlewood said of Brugman’s home run. “You know, you almost come to expect that from Jaycob (Brugman).”
The Cougars held the Pilots the rest of the game and played solid defense.
“We had to just keep persevering tonight,” Littlewood said. “I told the guys…’you can’t hit a five-run home run.’ Just go up there, have a good at bat and see what happens.
BYU narrowly defeated Portland 7–6 on Saturday, battling to maintain the lead up until the eighth inning. BYU committed five errors during the game.
Littlewood mentioned that while the game may have been exciting from the stands, it was frustrating from the dugout.
“It was just a crazy game,” he said. “We could go ten games and not commit five errors.”
However, he said he was proud of his team for their performance, especially commending pinch hitter Cody Shepherd and back-up catcher Collin Braithwaite.
Shepherd pinch hit for left fielder Andy Isom and hit a game-winning double to center field, scoring two Cougar runners.
“You have to tip your hat to Collin Braithwaite and Cody Shepherd,” Littlewood said. “It’s just tremendous to see these guys get a chance.”
Braithwaite stepped in for catcher Jarrett Jarvis after he collided with a Portland runner trying to cross home base in the bottom of the seventh inning. Braithwaite dropped a pitch soon after he took the field and cost the Cougars a Pilot run, but redeemed himself on offense with a base hit to center field.
“Especially after I cost the team a run with that ball going through, I just wanted to get on base and do whatever I could do,” Braithwaite said. “I was just trying to put the ball in place.”
The Cougars will not play again until after finals, when they face the University of Utah on Tuesday, April 23 at 6 p.m. MDT at Larry H. Miller Field.