BYU (15-14 overall and 3-4 in the West Coast Conference) rode the arm of Poulson, the bat of Hannemann and the fielding of both in the first of the three-game series with the Broncos (8-19, 0-7 WCC).
Poulson, a senior, pitched his third complete game of the season, striking out eight on 116 pitches as his record remains unblemished at 4-0. Hannemann, a freshman, belted a two-run home run over right field to bring in Hayden Nielsen in the seventh to extend BYU’s lead to 3-0.
“It was a curve ball that he turned on, it’s fun to watch his progress,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said of Hannemann. “He’s a phenomenal athlete, one of those kind of guys that come along every seven to nine years. Offensively we rode his back tonight, but we can't forget about Trace Hansen's huge two-out RBI single to get us on the board first."
Poulson got out of a jam with Broncos on the corners when freshman shortstop Nielsen turned a 6U3 double play to end the fourth inning. That momentum carried through to the fifth when Hannemann knocked a two-out triple to right-center field. Hansen singled up the middle to score Hannemann and give BYU a 1-0 lead.
It was the third time in the game the Cougars had reached third base, but the only time they cashed in. Hannemann worked his way to the hot corner in the first inning after a leadoff double. And in the sixth inning, Kelton Caldwell hit a two-out triple down the right field line. Hannemann made a leaping catch at the left-center wall to end the sixth. Hannemann couldn’t get to Greg Harisis’ double in the seventh as the Broncos closed the gap, 3-1.
However, Poulson gathered himself to strikeout cleanup batter Quinton Perry on three straight pitches for the first out. Poulson then fielded a comebacker and pivoted to throw out Harisis diving back into second base. Then Poulson fanned his second batter looking to end the seventh.
“He has done it every single outing,” Littlewood said of Poulson. “I’m amazed at what he’s done. His velocity got better as the night went on. His outing was pretty special tonight. He was constantly working ahead of hitters and in the rare occasion he did fall behind he came right back at them and didn't give in."
Poulson said his success came from listening to Littlewood and putting his pitches right where they needed to be.
“Coach told me I just have to spot up and they didn’t have any lefties, so I made sure my slider was where I needed it to be,” Poulson said. “They didn’t capitalize on my mistakes tonight except one. I saw some weird swinging on balls that were high, so I knew something was up.”
The two teams square up in game two on Friday at 6 p.m. PDT, with KOVO Radio 960 AM carrying the live broadcast.
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.