BYU’s baseball season finished after falling short to San Diego in the team’s second game of the West Coast Conference Tournament. The Cougars had many ups and downs this season but ultimately gave fans a reason to be excited for next spring.
The Cougars began the 2015 season with a rocky start by losing four straight games to No. 16 Santa Barbara. BYU lost six of its next eight games following the sweep by Santa Barbara.
“It’s been a grueling three weeks as we’ve played one of the toughest schedules in the country,” head coach Mike Littlewood said after losing to Oklahoma, “but we are a better, more seasoned team, and that will carry us in the long run.”
Littlewood’s team got a boost when it had its home opener against Hartford. The Cougars turned things around after starting the season 2-10 by sweeping Hartford in its four-game home stand. BYU went on to win five of its next seven games and get its season back on track.
Highlights of the season included winning the series against arch-rival University of Utah for the seventh time in eight years. BYU defeated Utah in the third game of the series to win two games to one.
“It’s always a big game,” Littlewood said. “Ever since I played and way before that. It’s one of those special games you enjoy winning and hate to lose.”
One of the bright spots for the Cougars came from redshirt sophomore pitcher Michael Rucker. Rucker ended the year with a record of 5-1 and led the team in both ERA and saves. His pitching played a major role in the Cougars’ success.
In addition to Rucker’s stellar pitching, the Cougars finished 30th in the nation in team batting average. Dillon Robinson led the way for the Cougars by batting .371 along with a team-leading 43 RBIs. Robinson was named to the All-WCC Tournament Team. Colton Shaver led BYU in home runs with 13 for the season in addition to his 42 RBIs. According to Shaver, his formula for hitting home runs is simple.
“I was just trying to stay relaxed and see a good pitch,” Shaver said after hitting his 13th home run. “I got one and I hit it well.”
Shaver hit the ball well all year long, and the good news for Cougar fans is that the former Utah Gatorade Player of the Year is only a freshman.
One of the most exciting moments of the season came when Jarrett Jarvis propelled BYU into the No. 3 spot in the WCC Tournament with a walk-off home run against St. Mary’s. Jarvis struggled from the plate throughout the season, but he came through when it counted the most in the regular season finale.
“What a fitting ending to our conference season,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said after Jarvis’ walk-off home run. “That at-bat epitomizes what this team is all about.”
The Cougars let a couple games slip through their fingers in the tournament while having leads against Pepperdine and San Diego in the eighth innings. BYU finished the year 28-25 overall but had an impressive home record of 14-3.
The Cougars will rise back up next season and return a veteran team full of exciting players. BYU fans have a lot to look forward to in 2016.