ST. GEORGE, Utah — Gorgeous, sunny weather aided BYU to split a baseball doubleheader Friday with Creighton, winning the “home” opener, 9-0, before falling 5-1 in the nightcap.
BYU (6-6) moved its scheduled home opener from Provo to Bruce Hurst Field at Dixie State University in St. George due to unplayable conditions at Larry H. Miller Field in Provo. With temperatures in the 70s, BYU rode the right arm of junior Desmond Poulson to shutout Creighton (4-1) in the opener. Poulson threw 98 pitches in eight innings, striking out six Bluejays.
No strikeouts were bigger than Poulson’s seventh-inning work aided by a 3-0 lead. In that seventh, Poulson gave up a lead-off double to shortstop Alex Staehely, then struck out the next two Bluejays looking and swinging before first baseman Reagan Fowler flew out to center field.
“I threw four different pitches, but my slider was working the best,” said Poulson, whose record improved to 2-0. “Double plays are the best; they get me more pumped than anything else does. My team gave me nine runs to work with. In the seventh inning I decided to throw better pitches and that made it easier on me and gave me more confidence.”
Poulson drew kudos from BYU coach Mike Littlewood in scattering five hits.
“I liked what Desmond brought,” Littlewood said. “It wasn't his best stuff, so he made adjustments and found his groove. Desmond did a great job and we're going to rely on him. To hold a team to zeros is a great accomplishment.“
In that victory, BYU and Creighton traded double plays and sparred until the fifth inning when junior Adam Law sparked the Cougars. Law’s triple down the right-field line scored the second of three BYU runs that inning.
If the triple, double, single 3 for 4 efforts by Law weren’t enough, at least two defensive plays stood out in his play from the hot corner. He started the inning-ending 543 double play in the fourth and recorded the first out in the sixth frame with a bare-handed field of Federico Castagnini sacrifice bunt.
“Adam (Law) is clearly our most consistent hitter. He is a plus-defender at third and is one of the better third basemen defensively that I've ever coached.”
Creighton rebounded from the 9-0 loss in the opener to take a 5-1 victory in the nightcap to stop a four-game winning-streak of BYU, aided by pinch runner Jordan Makovicka in the three-run seventh. With two outs and the score knotted one-all, BYU took starting pitcher Adam Miller off the mound following his sixth walk in as many innings. Castagnini then beat out a close play at first as he singled to shortstop and the speedy Makovicka scored from first to open the floodgates.
“Adam Miller had great stuff, but we need to do a better job supporting him on the offensive side because it puts too much pressure on him if we don't,” Littlewood said.
“In the second game we were within striking distance and played a solid game. I was pleased with our defense in both games with our freshmen up the middle just playing catch. Brock Whitney (first baseman) saves three outs a game with the way he digs balls out of the dirt.
“We're extremely grateful to Dixie State and coach (Chris) Pfatenauer for allowing us to play here. We appreciate their field maintenance; it is a nice gesture on their part."
The rubber match between Creighton and BYU will start Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. at Bruce Hurst Field.
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.