PROVO — March Madness found its way on to the diamond Friday night in Provo as the Cougars rallied in the fifth and sixth innings to come back and beat the Waves of Pepperdine, 10-9.
Despite falling behind 6-2 in the top of the fifth, BYU hit back in the bottom of the inning and put itself back on the path to victory, something head coach Mike Littlewood was happy to see.
"We got down four runs and just like our team has done all year, there is no quit," Littlewood said. "We answered immediately, and that was key to answer as soon as we got a chance to hit. We showed Pepperdine you know, these guys are here to play, and they weren't just going to steam-roll us."
Starter Adam Miller gave up six runs early but gave a solid effort and alleviated the stress on the bullpen for BYU.
"I was really proud of Adam Miller," Littlewood said. "He didn't have his best stuff and he labored and labored and labored and pushed as far as he could go, and we got as much out of him as we could. He's had a couple of rough outings, but he didn't give up and walk three or four guys, he took a little off his fastball here and there and gutted it out for four and two-thirds innings."
Freshman center fielder Jacob Hannemann embodied the Cougar effort, going 3-3 with a walk and a triple and scoring four runs. Base-running and taking advantage of opportunities is vital in any tight contest, and the smart play by BYU supplied a chance to sneak out a win.
"We want to be aggressive, but we want to be intelligently aggressive," Littlewood said. "We didn't want to run ourselves into outs, which we do once and awhile. I did it as a coach at Utah on Tuesday, but if we make mistakes we want them to be aggressive mistakes. I thought we did a nice job being aggressive at times, taking the extra base at times when the opportunity was there and just being heady but aggressive as well."
The Cougars knocked out 14 hits on the night and picked up eight RBIs while only committing one error compared to four for the Waves. After giving up six runs through the fifth inning, BYU's bullpen held down the fort just enough to give the Cougars a chance to sweep the series against Pepperdine, something coach Littlewood challenged his players to do.
"You have to win the series at home," Littlewood said. "We have a chance to sweep against one of the top teams in the league or in the West Coast, I mean Pepperdine is a tremendous team and they don't have any easy outs in their lineup. I'm really proud of our guys for beating a quality, quality team, and we have a chance tomorrow. We just can't be satisfied with the two wins up to this point."
First pitch for Saturday's game will be at 1 p.m. MDT at Miller Park.