BYU baseball splits four game series opener against LA Tech
BYU baseball traveled to Ruston, Louisiana to take take on LA Tech in a 4 game series over the weekend to open their 2023 campaign.
Louisiana Tech was coming off a disappointing end to their last season after falling to Air Force, 7-9, in NCAA Regionals. BYU was hoping to start off their season on a positive note, after last season gave them twists and turns, from Head Coach Mike Littlewood sudden resignation to their crushing loss to LMU in the WCC Tournament.
BYU head Coach Trent Pratt commented on Wednesday before the team’s trip to Louisiana about the strengths of the team, “We have a lot of returning guys…and some new guys on the pitching side, so a pretty good mix.”
The first game of the series went as well as BYU could have hoped, decimating LA Tech 10 runs to one. Junior Jack Sterner shined while pitching, allowing just one hit the whole night, before Mason Olson came in to finish out the game.
“I can’t say enough about what Jack did tonight,” praised Coach Pratt. “He is a competitor and is going to compete every time he takes the mound. That’s just who he is, and he was suburb on the mound tonight.”
The first inning went scoreless, but the action got underway in the second. An RBI from Jacob Wilk sent Safea Mauai home, giving the Cougars the first score of them game. They would increase their lead to three in the third inning with run a two-RBI single from Ryan Sepede.
BYU would continue to slowly build their lead, earning runs in the 5th (1), 6th (2), and the 8th inning (4). LA Tech was able to score a run for consolation, if nothing more, in the 8th inning.
All but two Cougars got a hit against the Bulldogs’ pitchers. 2nd baseman Ozzie Pratt didn’t look like he was slowing down after his freshman outing last season, as he led the team with 3 hits. Right fielder Ryan Sepede had himself a great night, scoring a run and hitting 3 RBIs for the team.
Saturday’s opener for the double-header was a much more competitive matchup than the night before. LA Tech was able to even the series with a win a piece, topping BYU 8-6, with a late game comback.
BYU got off to a hot start with a 2-0 lead. Austin Deming hit a single RBI to right field, bringing Ozzie Pratt home for the first score. With 2 outs, Mauai also hit a single into right field, as Deming scored the second run.
The Bulldogs began to claw their way back with runs in the second and third innings. Three runs from BYU in the third inning and one more in the 6th inning with a score from senior Cole Gambill put LA Tech behind with a 2-6 deficit.
After BYU failed to increase their lead in the top of the seventh, LA Tech began their comeback. Dalto Davis hit a 2 run-homer into center field, followed by Phi Matulia, who also hit a home run, making the score 5-6.
After BYU had three groundouts in the top of the eighth inning, LA tech got into position to take the game. With one out, outfielder Cole McConnell hit an RBI single to tie the game at 6. A wild pitch from BYU’s Payton Gubler allowed McConnell to advance to third and Brady Drost scored, giving LA Tech their first lead of the game (7-6). McConnell then advanced to home with Dalto Davis’ RBI single, increasing their lead to 2 scores.
BYU failed to retaliate in the top of the ninth, giving the Bulldogs the win in game 2.
BYU came back with a vengeance in game 2 of Saturday’s double-header. They scored 7 runs in the first two innings while increasing their hitting percentage astronomically.
Ozzie Pratt had another great outing, hitting a .462 average. He opened the scoring for BYU in the first inning. Cutter Clawson pitched 6 innings, allowing only 2 hits and throwing 9 striekouts.
Both BYU and LA Tech would go scoreless until the seventh inning, where each team earned a run. BYU did not add to the score the rest of thee game, but held the Bulldogs to just 1 run in the last two innings. BYU earned their second win of the year, 8-2.
Coach Pratt sung high praises for the team following their dominant win.
“We had a lot of solid at bats and put pressure on their pitching early. It’s a long season and you’re going to have adversity, so I was pleased with the way we bounced back in the second game”, Coach Pratt lauded.
The four game series ended Thursday night with the Cougs falling 2-10 against the Bulldogs.
Despite falling behind 1 score early, BYU answered back with a 2 run RBI from Brock Watkins. Three forced runs off of walks helped LA Tech regain the lead, 4-2. LA Tech would continue to add onto their lead for the remainder of the night, finishing with 10 runs to BYU’s 2.
In what was an up and down series for the Cougars, Coach Pratt seemed optimistic.
““It was a close game early and we had our changes. Mason Olsen came out of the bullpen and kept the game close but we just couldn’t get the big hit when we needed it tonight,” explained Coach Pratt. “You’re going to have nights like that. Hopefully we can learn from it.”
BYU next takes on the Ragin’ Cajuns of the University of Louisana Lafayette tomorrow in Lafayette. With BYU at .500 on the year, they will be looking to get more numbers in the win column in that 4 game series.