BYU baseball: Cougars takes series at Gonzaga

Ari Davis
Tanner Chauncey gets a hit in the game against Hartford. (Ari Davis)

BYU baseball beat Gonzaga 13-4 on Saturday, taking two of the three games against the Zags on the road.

The Cougars won the first game of the series 6-5 with key offensive and defensive plays. The Cougars started their offense quickly and scored in the second and third innings. Tanner Chauncey worked a walk to load the bases for the Cougars in the third. Parker Starr brought in Chauncey for a third run with a sac-fly after Gonzaga made a pitching change.

“Offensively we came out aggressive and set a nice tone early,” BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said. “Despite striking out 10 times, we got timely hitting that enabled us to get the win.”

Pitching for the Cougars helped get them out of a few sticky situations to keep their lead. Kolton Mahoney stopped Gonzaga from scoring on bases-loaded situations in both the third and fifth innings. Michael Rucker, a transfer from Gonzaga, stuck out three batters in the ninth to end the game and give the Cougars the win.

“I can’t say enough about the way Kolton Mahoney took the mound tonight,” Littlewood said on March 19. “He was aggressive, worked out of jams and gave us the start we needed to get this series going. I’m really proud of Mike (Rucker) as well. It’s a tough thing to come back to your former team and close out a game — he needed to get that one under his belt.”

BYU took an early lead in the second game, but Gonzaga rallied in the bottom of the eighth and came back from being down four runs to win it.

The Cougars found their rhythm in the last game of the series, coming out on top 13-4.  Brennon Lund started off the game for the Cougars with a single and then scored on a wild pitch later in the inning. It was Lund’s 14th-straight game of at least recording one hit.

“Offensively, Brennon set the tone for us on the first pitch of the game. It was also great to get some production from the bottom third of the lineup — Cole (Wilstead) and Derrick (Whitney) came up big for us today.”

Wilstead hit a two-run homer in the sixth to give the Cougars a 7-1 lead. He went 2-for-5 at the plate and brought in four runs in the game. Brandon Kinser pitched seven solid innings as the starter and threw more than 100 pitches. Kinser struck out four and retired the Bulldogs in order in the first and fifth innings.

“The way we came out ready to play today shows just how much character this team has,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said in reference to recovering from Friday’s 7-6 loss. “Brandon was great today. He competed for seven innings, and that’s just the type of start we needed from him.”

The Cougars have now won nine of their last 11 games and are in second place in the WCC standings.

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