College baseball roundup: Brock Duke, Trey Nielsen lead Utes to blowout win
NEW ORLEANS — Brock Duke pitched a gem and got plenty of run support as the Utah baseball team took the rubber match of the series against Tulane with an 8-1 win on Saturday.
"It starts on the mound, and Brock really set the tone today," Utah head coach Bill Kinneberg said. "He didn't have a base runner until the fifth inning. He set the tone and our offense came through and did a nice job today. Trey Nielsen had a good day — he hit the ball hard for us."
Utah got on the board first in the second inning on an RBI single from Trey Nielsen before C.J. Cron hit a two-run home run to deep left field in the third for a 3-0 advantage. The Utes added three more runs in the fourth to go up 6-0. Nielsen hit a two-RBI double after two runners reached on errors..
Duke had a perfect game going through four innings before walking a runner with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. Although a leadoff triple in the seventh would lead to a run to put the Green Wave on the board, Duke again got out of a jam when Blake Crohan grounded back to the pitcher to end the inning with the bases loaded.
Duke's seven innings was his longest outing of the season. He allowed five hits and one run, striking out four and walking two. He raises his record to 5-0 on the year.
Utah continued to put runs on the board in the late innings. Nielsen homered to left in the sixth for his fourth RBI of the game. The Utes added an insurance run in the top of the ninth on an RBI double from James Brooks.
Stephen Streich pitched the final two innings, allowing one hit with three strikeouts.
Nielsen was 3-for-4 on the day. Brooks went 2-for-4, while Cron had two RBI..
Utah returns to action on Tuesday, April 26, at Utah Valley, beginning at 6:00 p.m. MT.
BYU 1, NEW MEXICO 0: At Provo, Matthew Neil pitched a complete-game shutout as BYU won the finale of a three-game series at Larry H. Miller Field.
"One thing coach said to me before the game was pitch smarter not harder, so I was just focusing on working the edges of the plate," said Neil, a senior right-hander who was clocked as fast as 92 mph. "This was my first complete game shut-out. But, this game was an all around effort. Two of my pitches were working until my slider came back. I trust the guys behind me.."
Highlights of the game included Neil's 128-pitch, six-strikeout performance, as well as Ryan Bernal's RBI that won the game for the Cougars.
"Neil did an unbelievable job to give us a chance that we needed," said BYU coach Vance Law. "It doesn't happen very often with metal bats. He's had better days with better stuff, but he has learned how to be tough on the mound. He competes as well as anyone we've got. He got ahead of the majority of hitters."
While both teams were unable score in the first three innings, the bottom of the fourth provided a change of pace. Dillon Robinson recorded the Cougars' first single of the night, before a triple from Bernal allowed Robinson to round the bases for the only run of the game.
New Mexico came close to scoring in the top of the sixth, but with two outs and two on base, Neil got designated hitter John Twichell to fly out to Jaycob Brugman in right field to end the threat.
UNM came close to tying the ballgame again after consecutive singles in the ninth, but Austin Hall threw Twichell out at the plate for out two. Jacob Nelson then grounded to Robinson at third base who tagged pinch runner Logan Lippert to end the game.
"Hall's play was big off the run to throw him out at the plate," said Law.
Unfortunately Hall's play, and a great pitching performance by Neil, was overshadowed by fisticuffs after the game, before the coaches and umpires quickly broke up the exchange.
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