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College roundup: Late rally lifts Oregon Ducks baseball over Utah Utes

Published: Saturday, March 24 2012 10:33 p.m. MDT

The Utes got off to a fast start as Palauni hit a double to left field with one out in the first inning then was knocked in for the first run of the game when Elliott roped a two-out double in the top of the first frame. Palauni is third on the squad with three doubles, while Elliott now has three doubles this year and six extra-base hits to go along with 11 runs batted in.

This was the 10th time the Utes had scored in the first inning of a ballgame game this season and the Utes are 8-2 in those contests.

Utah concludes its three-game series at third-ranked Washington Sunday at 1 p.m. MT.

BYU SOFTBALL: At Provo, a Delaney Willard home run in the bottom of the seventh gave the Cougars (19-8, 3-0) their third win over New Mexico State (18-16, 0-3) this weekend to complete the sweep in their first Western Athletic Conference games of the year at Gail Miller Field.

The Cougars easily defeated the Aggies, 9-1, in Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader. Game 2 was not won as easily but with the score tied three-all, Willard's homer gave BYU the 6-3 victory.

"These wins were huge," said BYU head coach Gordon Eakin following the win. "You always want to protect your home field and it's hard to beat any good team twice so I'm really pleased with the effort of our team in every area. Pitching was great this weekend, defense was superb with the exception of the fifth inning yesterday and we had timely hitting. We played a complete weekend against a real quality opponent so I'm really proud."

JC Clayton led the Cougars with three RBI in Game 1 while Stacie Toney led the team in runs with three. In Game 2, Willard came up huge for BYU with two home runs and five RBIs. Hannah Howell and Tori Almond were the winning pitchers.

Game 1

After an inning and a half with no score, a sacrifice foul by Carly Duckworth brought Willard in for the score to give BYU their first run of the game. The next hitter up for the Cougars, Jenna Goar, hit a sacrifice fly ball that was caught in right field but brought Stacie Toney home with a sliding run.

BYU found its groove in the fourth inning as the Cougars recorded six runs in the inning. In the bottom of the fourth with bases loaded and one out, pinch hitter Katie Manuma stepped up to the plate and hit a line drive to left field that gave both Toney and Willard runs. Later in the fourth, Jessica Dugas singled to the shortstop and recorded an RBI as Duckworth scored. Still, it was Clayton whose triple brought Cougar faithful to their feet as three BYU players scored on the play and the Cougars took an 8-0 lead.

In the top of the fifth, the Aggies were able to round the bases for the first time to extend the game with the score 8-1. However, BYU was able to secure the victory off an error that gave the Cougars the 9-1 victory.

Game 2

Staci Rodriguez belted a two-run homer over the fence to give NMSU its first lead of the weekend, 2-0. BYU made several impressive plays in the field to stop the Aggie run. The homers didn't stop there for NMSU as Brittany Clifton hit a ball out of the park in the fourth to give the Aggies a 3-0 lead.

Willard answered with a two-run slam of her own in the bottom of the fourth to bring the Cougars within one. A Clayton single caused Messerschmidt to score and tied the game at 3-all in the bottom of the fifth.

Sophomore Ashlee Brawley made several key plays in the middle innings at the third base position, including a running throw to first on a short hit for an out. Brawley also connected for her first career hit at Miller Field earlier in the game.

Unfortunately for NMSU, Willard, who currently holds the nation's second-best batting average, stepped up to bat with two on and one out in the bottom of the seventh. Her deep shot to center field brought in three runs and ensure the three-game sweep.

"I was just trying to get a good pitch and hit it hard into the outfield," Willard said of her big hit. "Because we really only needed one run but it went over, which was nice."

Dugas and Clayton each went 3 for 4 in the game with Clayton adding two runs scored.

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