A career-high eight strikeouts by Hayden Rogers was just what No. 26 BYU baseball needed in a 6-1 victory over Sacramento State in Friday’s elimination game.
This was the first win for BYU in a regional since 2002, when the Cougars defeated Maine and Cal State Northridge in the Los Angeles Regional.
“Hayden Rogers gave us an incredible outing today,” said BYU coach Mike Littlewood. “I felt totally comfortable giving him the ball. We knew he was throwing well. We just needed to get a couple runners on and see if we could get a hit. Tanner (Chauncey) came up big today.”
Chauncey, who finished the night with three RBIs, helped give BYU the boost it needed to stay alive in the tournament.
The Cougars (38-20) trailed the Hornets (32-29) for the first two innings 1-0 until Chauncey, Brennon Anderson and Daniel Schneemann each brought in a RBI in the third to pull ahead 3-1.
In the sixth, BYU loaded the bases, but only managed one RBI before an inning-ending double play to push its lead to 4-1.
In the seventh, Chauncey stroked a one-out double to the left field corner to plate Anderson and Schneemann from first for a 6-1 lead.
Mason Marshall, who replaced Rogers, polished off the Western Athletic Conference champions in the final 2.2 innings.
“I felt like our guys grinded the game out today,” Littlewood said. “The feel in the first two innings didn’t feel great. We felt a little bit anxious and I think every hitter felt like they needed to hit a five-run home run every time up. You could feel the pressure mounting.”
The Cougars eliminated the Hornets from the tournament in an 18th come-from-behind victory this season.
The Cougars will face No. 8 Stanford after the Cardinal suffered a shocking defeat to No. 17 Cal State Fullerton.
The game is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m. PDT, with the winner facing Fullerton in the night cap.
If BYU or Stanford beat Fullerton, there will be a final game to determine the regional champion.
That game will be moved to Monday if BYU forces a winner-take-all championship game. If Stanford wins, the game will be on Sunday.