Cougars, Utes take rivalry to the diamond

Published: Monday, March 26 2012 10:00 p.m. MDT

BYU's Jaycob Brugman and the Cougars meet the Utes today.

Mike Terry, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

SALT LAKE CITY — BYU and Utah will face each other for the first time as members of different conferences on the baseball diamond.

The Cougars, who are now part of the West Coast Conference, and the Utes, who are in their first year in the Pac-12, renew their storied rivalry Tuesday night at 6 p.m. at Spring Mobile Ballpark.

Both teams are already in the middle of their respective conference schedules, but they're eager to face a familiar foe.

"A lot of our guys and a lot of their guys know each other from high school and playing against each other for a lot of years," said BYU coach Vance Law. "I think there's still going to be that rivalry between BYU and Utah. I don't think that it's ceased on our part. I couldn't speak to how they feel about it, but that's the way I think. Our guys are looking forward to playing against those guys. I'm looking forward to it as well."

"Even though it's not in conference play, the game will probably still have the same intensity," said Utah coach Bill Kinneberg.

The Cougars and Utes are both coming off dramatic conference road victories over the weekend.

BYU (9-9 overall, 4-2 in the WCC) has won three of its last four games, including a 10-inning, 7-4 victory at Portland last Saturday.

Utah (7-15, 3-3 Pac-12) is fresh off a 4-3 win at Oregon on Sunday after Parker Morin's two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning.

"Winning with a comeback was the most important thing for us," Kinneberg said. "It shows character and pride, which I really liked to see. Also important was that it got us to 3-3 in the conference, all of which were on the road."

This game opens a nine-game homestand for the Utes.

"We talked about this last night coming home, that we finally get to stay home for a couple of weekends," Kinneberg said. "We have to learn to play on our field and learn to win at home, so it will be a big couple of weeks for us."

This game marks the first of three between BYU and Utah this season, as the two teams will also meet on April 3 at Spring Mobile Ballpark, which will be followed by a game in Provo on April 17.

Law said that both he and Kinneberg understand the importance of continuing the series between the two programs.

"Bill and I have talked and we're trying to work it out so that we can increase the number of games in the future from three to having a weekend series with some midweek games," Law said. "We'll see how the schedules play out. It would be good for both of us."

Law said he doesn't know much about Utah's team this year, but added that he expects a typical, hard-fought battle.

"We'll have our work cut out trying to score some runs against them," the Cougars' coach said. "Every time you play them, it's always a challenge. It's not very often that there are blowouts between BYU and Utah. It's usually a pretty competitive ball game. I anticipate the three this year to be competitive as well."

WEEKLY AWARD: BYU freshman pitcher Mason Marshall has been named the Rawlings West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Week.

Marshall got his first collegiate win in BYU's 12-inning victory over Portland and also picked up a save in a 10-inning win at Portland.

Marshall set down the side in order over three innings in the Cougars' 12-inning triumph at Portland in the series opener, and he helped BYU clinch the series win over the Pilots by closing the door in the 10th inning of Saturday's finale. Marshall has yet to allow an earned run in 141/3 innings of work this season, striking out 14 batters.

"He is as dependable as we've ever had," said Law. "He throws strikes all the time and has done a tremendous job for us."

Marshall, who stands 5-foot-8, just received a mission call to the Philippines.

email: jeffc@desnews.com

Cougars, Utes on the air

BYU (9-9, 4-2 WCC) at Utah (7-15, 3-3 Pac-12)

Today, 6 p.m.

Spring Mobile Ballpark

TV: None

Radio: 960 AM, BYU Radio Sirius XM 143

Cougars, Utes on the air

BYU (9-9, 4-2 WCC) at Utah (7-15, 3-3 Pac-12)

Today, 6 p.m.

Spring Mobile Ballpark

TV: None

Radio: 960 AM, BYU Radio Sirius XM 143

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