BYU beats Saint Mary’s, earns conference tournament berth

Jacob Hannemann and the Cougars clinched a WCC tournament berth with a victory over Saint Mary's Friday night.
Jacob Hannemann and the Cougars clinched a WCC tournament berth with a victory over Saint Mary’s Friday night.

BYU baseball clinched a spot in the WCC tournament with a 6-3 victory over Saint Mary’s Friday night.

“I’m just really glad that we finished it tonight,” head coach Mike Littlewood said. “I just can’t say enough about the overall attitude of our team. There was no anxiety, there was no tension. They wanted to get it done in two games and they got it done.

The Cougars (29-19, 14-9 WCC) earned at least the fourth seed in the tournament and could nab the third seed with a victory tomorrow afternoon. With the loss, the Gaels (21-33, 11-12 WCC) were eliminated from playoff contention.

“Our next goal is to try and get the three seed,” Littlewood said. “You’re going to play a good team no matter what.”

BYU scored early and often in support of starter Jeff Barker, who earned the win, pitching 5 1/3 innings and giving up two runs on five hits

The scoring started early as both teams picked up a run in the first inning.  The Cougars took the lead in the second inning on a two-out double by Hayden Nielsen that scored Kelton Caldwell. BYU tacked on one run each in the third and fifth innings to take a 4-1 lead.

The Gaels cut the lead to 4-2 in the sixth when Markus Melgosa scored on a double by Anthony Villa, causing Littlewood to bring in Adam Miller in relief. With runners on second and third and one out, Miller struck out Collin Ferguson and got Darian Ramage to ground out to end the inning, leaving the tying run in scoring position and ending one the Gaels’ biggest threats of the night.

The Cougars quickly got the run back on Whitney’s solo home run to left center in the bottom half of the sixth. Adam Law hit a solo home run of his own to lead off the eighth inning, extending BYU’s lead to 6-2.

The Gaels attempted to mount a comeback in the ninth, loading the bases with no outs. Reliever Matt Milke struck out pinch hitter Christopher Akmon for the first out. Saint Mary’s pushed one run across when Cole Norton grounded into a fielder’s choice, but Milke struck out Melgosa to end the inning and preserve the victory.

Tomorrow’s game will start at 1 p.m. MST. It will be televised on BYUtv and broadcast on KOVO Radio 960 AM.

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