BYU baseball falls to Gonzaga 5-3 in WCC tournament

Hayden Nielsen and the Cougars beat Saint Mary's 14-3 to snag the third seed in the WCC tournament.
Hayden Nielsen making a play to first earlier this season. BYU lost to Gonzaga 5-3 in the first game of the WCC tournament. (Universe Archives)

BYU baseball couldn’t find their rhythm against Gonzaga pitcher Braden Bailey as they fell 5-3 at Banner Island Park in Stockton, California.

The Cougars were scoreless going into the 7th inning until freshman right fielder Keaton Kringlen caught a 0-1 pitch and sent it over the left field fence. Then in the 8th and 9th innings Eric Urry and Bronson Larsen followed with their own solo home runs that cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 5-3. Bailey was able to shut out the next two batter to win the game.

“Brandon Bailey simply overpowered us tonight,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “We didn’t make adjustments at the plate and that resulted in 17 punchouts. The little things cost us in this game. We lost a fly ball, fell behind a couple hitters and Mike (Rucker) had trouble fielding a ground ball back to him and that was the difference in the game. We need to get back to the park early Friday and show our true character.”

A hand full of errors in left field and a shot back to Rucker, who misplayed it, helped the Zags score two in the 3rd and two in the 5th innings.

BYU started Mike Rucker for seven innings and allowed the five runs (four earned) that led to the Bulldog victory. This was the first loss of this season, making him 11-1 this year.

BYU faces an uphill battle through the consolation bracket, starting Friday with a noon PDT game against Pepperdine (28-23), who lost to tri-champion Saint Mary’s 8-7 in 11 innings in Thursday’s tourney opener. A win for the Cougars pits them in a 7:30 p.m. PDT survival game Friday against the loser of Saint Mary’s-Gonzaga.

You can watch the games on the West Coast Conference website, or listen on BYU radio Sirius XM 143.



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