Jack Sterner pitches against Santa Clara. (BYU Photo)

Stellar BYU pitching stifles Santa Clara 5-1

BYU Baseball has had its fair share of obstacles and adversities within the team this year. With losses of star players such as second baseman Andrew Pintar and right fielder Cole Gambill, the Cougars haven’t always found themselves on the right side of things. However, BYU found ways to overcome those challenges Thursday night in beating fellow conference foe Santa Clara 5-1 in Provo.

Pitching was a huge factor in the win, propelled by a season-high 17 team strikeouts. Starter Jack Sterner found ways to stave off the dangerous Bronco offense in limiting Santa Clara to five hits while surrendering only one run and striking out seven. While the Broncos put runners on base in each of the first five innings, Sterner — along with help from the rest of the team — found ways to prevent these runners from scoring.

BYU’s bullpen never let up after Sterner left the game. Nate Dahle was the first reliever to enter, striking out two two batters to end a Bronco threat.

“We just come out and try to set the tone from the weekend, and it starts with the pitching,” Dahle said.

Cooper McKeehan came in to close the game out in the ninth, striking out the side to preserve the win.

BYU’s bats produced three runs in the third and two in the fourth, ultimately enough to nab the victory. Ozzie Pratt and Brock Watkins led the charge, with Pratt going 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI infield singles while Watkins went 1-for-3 with an RBI base hit as well.

“It was a great team win,” head coach Mike Littlewood said. “I thought the effort on the mound and the effort at the plate was tremendous.”

BYU (15-12, 4-6 WCC) picks up its sixth series opening win of the season, now looking to avoid the Friday slump when it takes on Santa Clara again Friday night at 6 p.m. MST.

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