Loud bats lead BYU baseball to 11-2 win over No. 19 Gonzaga in series opener

BYU baseball rode its red hot offense to an 11-2 victory over Gonzaga in Provo Thursday night, earning its second conference win of the young season.

The Cougars shelled Gonzaga’s pitching to the tune of seven extra base hits, with six different BYU batters driving in runs on the night. Seven runs in the seventh and eighth innings — highlighted by a three-run blast to center field off the bat of Ryan Sepede — offered BYU the necessary insurance to bury the Bulldogs after holding an initial two-run advantage.

“We get production one through nine (in the lineup), and it’s really important to be able to do that,” head coach Mike Littlewood said. “Not just hitting, but timely hitting, and we got that tonight.”

Sepede was the star of the scoring show, adding two doubles and a walk to his eighth inning homer to account for five of BYU’s runs. In addition to Sepede, Mitch McIntyre, Hayden Leatham, Brock Watkins, Cole Gambill and Sardina all drove in runs for the Cougars while spraying the ball all over the field and hitting .429 with runners in scoring position.

“It was important to come back and show the fans what this team is about,” Sepede said. “I think patience was key.”

Leatham and Sepede each tallied three hits apiece, Sardina and Watkins added doubles and Ozzie Pratt’s smart base running resulted in two trips across home plate, including a mad dash on a Leatham squeeze bunt to beat the throw before flipping back onto his feet.

Following a grueling first inning, BYU starting pitcher Jack Sterner settled down to toss six innings of two-run ball with four strikeouts in a winning effort, setting his season ERA to a solid 2.56 mark.

Cooper McKeehan and Nate Dahle relieved Sterner out of the bullpen for three scoreless frames to close the contest. BYU’s pitching didn’t surrender a single walk, with infielders Pratt and Sardina playing stellar defense to keep the Bulldog bats in check.

Along with a 12-run outburst against UVU this past Tuesday, BYU has scored 23 runs over its past two wins to follow a pair of weekend losses to Portland where the Cougars managed a meager two total runs. Already with an opening upset win over the Bulldogs under their belt, the Cougars look to finish the job this weekend to establish themselves firmly in the WCC standings.

“Our eyes are on a sweep this weekend,” Sepede said.

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