OREM — The UVU baseball team entered its matchup against cross-town rival BYU with a 23-game winning streak and searching for some recognition.
Following a 14-11 win in front of a record 5,456 fans at Brent Brown ballpark on Tuesday night, it served notice loud and clear that it's a team worthy of NCAA consideration for postseason play.
The Wolverines used an offensive explosion in the middle innings and some stellar relief pitching to secure the win.
"This club finds a way to win when it needs to," said UVU coach Eric Madsen. "I'm proud of them — they played hard and they overcame some big mistakes … our guys didn't play well defensively tonight, but our guys zoned in and came back and did what they needed to do to win the ball game."
UVU jumped out early on BYU with right fielder Billy Burgess belting an RBI triple which was followed by a sacrifice fly off the bat of designated hitter Austin Heaps to go up 2-0 after the first inning.
BYU came storming back, scoring the next six runs courtesy of some costly errors and timely hitting. Left fielder Kelton Caldwell capped off the scoring in the top of the third – hitting a two-run home run to put the Cougars up 6-2 midway through the third inning.
After putting up a single run in the bottom of the third, the bats came alive for UVU — scoring five runs in the fourth, four runs in the fifth and another two runs in the sixth inning to go up 14-10 after six. Burgess led the way with a game-high four hits — earning himself player of the game honors.
"I was able to see the ball really well for the majority of my at-bats," said Burgess.
Despite his offensive production, it was a defensive play made by Burgess in the top of the fourth that gave UVU its momentum entering the middle innings. With two-outs and a runner on first, Burgess robbed BYU designated hitter Wes Guenther of a home run with a spectacular catch on the warning track.
"The catch (Burgess) made changed the game," said Madsen. "That was unbelievable and that was the difference in the ball game, I think."
Following the early struggles of starting pitcher Adam Gunn, relievers Taylor Mangum and Jeff Barto quieted the Cougar bats — combining to give up just a single run over the final four innings. Barto entered the game in the eighth inning with runners on second and third and two outs — striking out BYU catcher Alex Wolfe.
"Jeff Barto came into a tough situation and pitched beautifully," said Madsen. "To fall behind and then come back like we did – our relievers did a great job in controlling the tempo of the game."
UVU was led by Burgess and his four hits in five at bats while first baseman Goose Kallunki added a team-high 4 RBI on two hits in four at-bats.
Left fielder Sean Moysh added a 2-for-3 effort with three runs and three RBIs.
With the win UVU pushes its winning streak to 24 games and will next travel to Houston to play four straight games against Houston Baptist.
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