BYU baseball has eyes set on WCC title

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Hayden Rogers delivers a pitch during Friday night's game. The Cougars took two out of three games from Gonzaga over the weekend. (Natalie Stoker)
Hayden Rogers delivers a pitch earlier this season. (Natalie Stoker)

The BYU baseball team has won three of its last four games and is building momentum for the end of its regular season.

“This was a total team win,” said BYU head coach Mike Littlewood after the Cougars final game with San Francisco. “I couldn’t be more proud of our effort this weekend.”

BYU destroyed UVU on May 10 with a 17-6 win that included four homers and 19 hits before scoring 26 runs in three games against San Francisco.

“I thought our approach was really good,” Littlewood said. “We got back to that very simple thing of swinging at strikes and watching balls. It was nice to see that our guys can still hit.”

BYU clinched a spot in the WCC Championship bracket with the two victories.

The Cougars are currently tied for second with St. Mary’s in the West Coast Conference with a 15-9 record, trailing Gonzaga by one game. If BYU can finish the season tied with the Zags, the team will win the conference outright because the Cougars own the tiebreaker.

But a regular-season championship isn’t the only thing Littlewood and the Cougars are aiming at. They’ve got their eyes on the WCC Championships — a double elimination style tournament comprised of the top four conference teams. A win here would mean the Cougars receive an automatic bid to the field of 64 of the College World Series in June.

“Mentally, we should be at peak performance, holding the conference bid in the palm of our hand,” Littlewood said. “We have given ourselves a chance to control our own destiny, we don’t have to scoreboard watch. We have to keep plugging away, it’s imperative we get one. The goal is to win the series. If we sweep the series, I think that gets us to the tournament.”

BYU has four games remaining on its schedule, including a three-game homestand to end the season with Loyola Marymount. LMU currently is ninth in the conference. But, Gonzaga has five games remaining, including three with sixth-place San Diego. The Cougars may have a chance to regain first place in the WCC if Gonzaga stumbles down the stretch.

Ari Davis
Head coach Mike Littlewood watches on during the game against Pacific. Littlewood is optimistic of the Cougars’ chances in the WCC tournament. (Ari Davis)

But even if the team falls short in the regular season, the team isn’t worried.

“Our chances of winning the WCC championship is pretty high,” rightfielder Keaton Kringlen said. “If our pitchers pitch well and if we swing the bat how we have been, we have a really good chance of winning it. Our guys are great and we know we can do it.”

The winner of the conference tournament gets an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. After that, the top 64 teams in the nation get invited to the tournament, which could be Plan B for the Cougars if they don’t get the automatic bid. Right now BYU is ranked No. 44 in the nation, but that ranking can only increase if the team continues to win.

“We have a pretty good RPI,” centerfielder Brennon Lund said. “If we win the rest of our games we’ll have a pretty good shot at making it to the NCAA tournament.”

The Cougars have four games left to their regular-season schedule before the WCC Championships are held May 26-28. BYU will travel to Salt Lake to take on the rival Utes on May 17, then will return to Provo for a three-game series with lowly Santa Clara on May 19-21.

 

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