No. 18 BYU beat Portland 23-19 in an exciting first game of the series in front of a lively and interactive crowd at Miller Park.
“I’ve never seen a game like that before,” said coach Mike Littlewood. “It was just perseverance. I told the guys it was going to be a long game, and we just needed to keep playing.”
The Cougars started out strong in the first inning against the Pilots with five RBI, including a two-run double by Bronson Larsen.
The Pilots hit the field with fangs out in the second inning and answered with three home runs and seven total runs.
BYU managed to retake the lead before the end of the second, scoring an addition four runs, including a home run by Brennon Anderson that soared over the 400-foot mark.
Portland responded with a home run in the top of the third and closed their half of the inning with seven more runs.
The Cougars countered with a long string of singles and a double off the right-center wall by David Clawson in an eight-run third inning to retake the lead at 17-14.
In the fifth inning, Portland scored three runs to tie the game at 17-17.
Larsen hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh and once again, BYU regained the lead at 22-18.
“It kind of felt like the Utah game a little bit, where you’re just going back and forth, back and forth,” Larsen said. “It was a pretty emotional game.”
In the bottom of the eighth, Anderson hit his first triple of the season and was hit home by Tanner Chauncey on the next play to score BYU’s 23rd run of the night, tying the record for the season.
After the Pilots hit a pop fly in the ninth inning for an out, pitcher Mason Marshall proceeding to strike out Portland’s last two batters to win the game.
With their 30th win, the Cougars clinched one of the top four spots in the West Coast Conference, which makes them eligible for the league tournament in Stockton, California beginning on May 25.
The game came close to the most total runs in a BYU game, which was set in 1987, when the Cougars beat Air Force 32-13.
Game two of the BYU-Portland series will be Friday at 6 p.m. MDT.