If the Cougars could have combined Thursday night’s batting with tonight’s fielding, they may have had a fighting chance in counting game two against San Diego as a win; but they lost to the Toreros 5-1.
BYU’s starting pitcher Jeff Barker did well to limit the amount of runs by San Diego, and field players including Brock Whitney, Hayden Nielsen and Parker Starr worked the diamond for various double plays and consecutive outs.
“I thought we played better,” said BYU coach Mike Littlewood. “Jeff Barker gave us a great start; it’s amazing when you pitch ahead and work ahead and are able to throw your off speed for strikes, and I just told them last night they (San Diego) looked like the Yankees, and tonight they just looked like a really good college baseball team.”
The first and second innings passed quickly, as both teams fielded aggressively. San Diego’s designated hitter, Austin Bailey, scored the first run of the night in the third when he came in after Andrew Daniel walked. BYU returned the favor in the bottom of the third, when Starr grounded to left field, helping Eric Urry to run home.
BYU kept the Toreros from scoring any runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Toreros Josh Goossen-Brown and Brandon Defazio were both tagged out in a double play in the fourth, and then BYU catcher Jarrett Jarvis caught San Diego’s Louie Lechich stealing second in the fifth.
San Diego scored a run in the sixth inning, and BYU relief pitcher Rhett Nelson struck out three players in a row in the seventh.
“What I liked is that we minimized the end. We didn’t give up (innings) 6 or 7, and we have to learn how to do that,” Littlewood said. “We have a lot of new guys who have’t played at this level, and that is just one of the things they have to learn.”
Because of Rhett Nelson’s pitching mistakes and a few hit-by-pitches on San Diego’s part, the Toreros managed to score three more runs in the eighth. Defazio ran home on a wild pitch, bringing the final score up 5-1.
“Overall, we don’t like the loss obviously, but we’re trying to take positives from it,” Littlewood said. “It was a good baseball game. They made less mistakes, got key hits and came away with a win.”
Kolton Mahoney, BYU’s “top (pitching) prospect,” will start on the mound tomorrow. Mahoney pitched a no-hitter against Nicholls State University last week. Coach Littlewood expects it to be “a competitive ball game tomorrow.” Saturday’s game will begin at 1 p.m. at Larry H. Miller Field.