PROVO — The BYU Cougars took a break from conference play Tuesday night as they welcomed UVU to Miller Park in a matchup of cross-valley rivals. BYU did not play the role of a gracious host, however, as center fielder Jacob Hannemann went 3-4 with four RBIs, two coming by way of a deep shot to right, in the Cougars' 8-0 victory.
The Wolverines managed to keep things close with a scoreless tie headed into the fifth inning when the Cougars got the scoring started on a sacrifice fly by Bret Lopez. His RBI was immediately followed by a stand-up RBI double from Trace Hansen. Two batters later Hannemann cleared the bases and put the Cougars up 4-0.
"That's kind of how our team is," said starting pitcher Mark Anderson. "You give them a couple of looks at a pitcher and they can lock in. Going in to the start you already kind of know that's your job, just keep 'em there and they can take care of it."
While all eight runs counted, they weren't all needed. Anderson owned the mound for 8 1/3 innings in a dominating pitching performance, something head coach Mike Littlewood was happy to see.
"Mark Anderson came out and set a nice tone for us," Littlewood said. "I was joking with someone before the game saying all we needed from him was nine innings and we'd take it, obviously not thinking he'd go out and do it. I wanted him to finish the game but he did a great job. Our hitters finally game through and we won a game by more than two runs."
BYU picked up four more runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to finish off the scattered scoring.
"You like to score every inning. You like to put the pressure on every inning but we'll take 'em. We'll take 'em in bunches if we can, sometimes hitting is just contagious. The guy in front of you will get a hit and it just kind of snowballs," Littlewood said. "Our hitters did a good job today being picky, being choosy and not swinging at bad pitches and really just making them pay when they threw the ball in the zone."
The cross-valley games are something that both coaches take seriously for several reasons.
"It's great to be able to play somebody that's so close," Littlewood said. "Especially when you are trying to pack 56 games into a 3 1/2-month season. You have to win these games: it's for bragging rights; it's for recruiting in-state stuff. I mean these are important games to us and so to come out and win this game was big for us. Utah Valley and Utah, those are special games that you have to come out and play well. There were a lot of people here, a lot of recruits and a lot of high school kids that we saw. It's important not just to play well but to win."1 comment on this story
UVU head coach Erik Madsen was still able to place value on the rivalry in defeat.
"It's just great to play BYU for the community," Madsen said. "Win or lose or however that goes, I think it just depends on how you play and how the game is played and just that opportunity to compete with teams in the state. No one wants to lose those games in-state — they mean a lot to everybody; these games are a big deal."
BYU next takes to the road as it will travel to Southern California for a series against Santa Clara this weekend while UVU heads back East for a matchup against NJIT in the opener of Great West Conference action.