PORTLAND — Clutch pitching and defense late helped BYU baseball secure a 10th-inning 7-4 victory Saturday afternoon over the University of Portland.
BYU (9-9) improves to 4-2 in the West Coast Conference with the victory, and several Cougars helped get them there as they won the three-game series over the Pilots (14-5 overall, 1-2 WCC).
While three unearned runs in the 10th inning provided the BYU victory, the impetus started in the third inning when relief pitcher Desmond Poulson took the mound and promptly retired the Pilots in order. Poulson repeated that feat in the sixth and eighth innings. Among the seven Pilots fanned by Poulson were key strikeouts in the fifth, sixth and eighth frames.
While reliever Chris Howard got the win by virtue of throwing four pitches in two-thirds of the ninth inning and 5-foot-8 freshman Mason Marshall picked up his third save, Poulson’s pitching helped keep the score knotted at 4-4 for the final five innings of regulation.
“Our pitchers kept us close and right in the ball game,” said BYU coach Vance Law. “Our team has ground it out and they never give up, they weren’t going to give in as long as our pitcher was keeping us in the game.”
Three BYU defensive plays in the seventh and ninth innings extinguished Portland rallies.
The first came when right fielder Jaycob Brugman helped throw out Portland's Turner Gill at second as he tried to extend a single. Not to be outdone, teammate Stephen Wells made an over-the-shoulder catch two batters later to end the seventh with a runner on third base.
“Wells made an unbelievable play in center field,” said Law. “Then Tanner Chauncey made a heads-up play, knowing we couldn’t make the double play at first base.”
Freshman shortstop Chauncey touched second base for out No. 2 off a slow roller, then faked to first before firing home to catch the Pilot runner in a ninth inning-ending pickle to complete one of three Cougar double plays.
That set up Austin Hall, who moved from short to center field, leading off the 10th by beating out a bunt single down the third base line, followed by a Wes Guenther walk. BYU then took a 6-4 lead off a wild throw by pitcher Owen Jones attempting to field Brock Whitney’s bunt. Whitney advanced around the horn and was later ruled safe at the plate off Brugman’s sacrifice fly.
BYU will next face arch-rival Utah, beginning Tuesday at Spring Mobile Ballpark at 6 p.m. It will be the first of three non-conference games with the Utes.
Ralph R. Zobell has worked for BYU Athletic Media Relations in various capacities for over 30 years. You can view his bio at http://byucougars.com/staff/athletics/ralph-zobell or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.