BYU baseball keeps rolling, moves to 15-1

Michael Rucker throws for BYU in the game against Niagara University on Thursday. Rucker had a career-high 10 strikeouts in the game. (Ari Davis)

The BYU baseball team continued their dominance with a four-game series sweep against Niagara University. The Cougars improved their record-setting start to 15-1.

The series started Thursday, March 10 with a 14-1 win for the Cougars. Starting pitcher Michael Rucker moved to 3-0 on the season throwing 102 pitches over eight innings, giving up only three hits and striking out a career-high 10 batters.

“I was just mesmerized by Mike (Rucker),” said head coach Mike Littlewood. “I think it was the best performance I’ve seen from a BYU pitcher. He was just dominant.”

BYU had no problem creating offense as they scored 14 runs on 15 hits. Second baseman Brennon Anderson, first baseman Colton Shaver and third baseman Nate Favero all hit home runs in the game.

“I was really happy the way we hit and played defense,” Littlewood said. “It was a perfect night.”

The series continued with a doubleheader on Friday. BYU found themselves down 8-0 by the fourth inning of the first game.

In an incredible comeback to take the lead, 14 at-bats from the Cougars led to nine runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.

“Everybody has a plan when they go up to the plate and they understand what’s expected from them in the lineup,” Littlewood said. “I’m really happy for the guys.”

The Cougars added four more runs in the sixth and one in the seventh on their way to a 14-10 victory. Right-handed pitcher Zach Brinkerhoff recorded his first win of the season for BYU and lefty Bo Burrup earned the save.

The team beat the Purple Eagles in the second game of the double header with a score of 14-2. Left-handed pitcher Hayden Rogers moved to 2-0 on the year for the Cougars.

Pinch hitter Keaton Kringlen had a two-run homer in the seventh. Shortstop Hayden Nielsen went 2-3 with four RBIs and designated hitter Brock Hale went 2-4 with three RBIs.

BYU completed the sweep on Saturday with a 15-3 win behind right-handed pitcher Connor William’s five innings of work. Williams gave up only one earned run and was rewarded with his first win of the season.

“I just went out with a good approach to throw strikes and to challenge the hitters,” Williams said. “Everything was just working well for me.”

Left fielder Eric Urry led the Cougar offense with a grand slam in the first inning. Urry went 2-3 and had six RBIs and two runs in the game. Shaver had a solo home run in the seventh inning and recorded three RBIs in the game.

The Cougars added four more wins to their stellar record, now sitting at 15-1.

“We talk about the three things in baseball that we do- play catch, pitch and hit and we’re doing all three of them right now,” Littlewood said. “It just feels good that we walk on the field everyday and feel that we’re gonna win. We just need to keep this rolling.”

The Cougars will look for their tenth win in a row in a home game against the University of Utah on Tuesday, March 15.


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