Tom Smart, Deseret News
PROVO — The baseball rivalry between BYU and Utah started with a pioneer-era, benches-clearing brawl in 1895.
The latest installment of the rivalry Tuesday at Miller Park, however, was a lot more one-sided. Notching its 20th victory of the season, BYU posted a 9-3 victory over the Utes.
Jacob Hannemann took a leadoff, first-pitch fastball in the first inning and parked it deep over the right-field fence.
BYU never looked back.
“I just saw it and reacted and swung,” Hannemann said. “I always wanna go in and start things off and try and get a couple runs. I love the first-pitch fastball and that’s what they gave me and I took it.”
Head coach Mike Littlewood saw the pitch coming before the game and the two prepped for the exact opportunity that presented itself.
“I talked to Jacob before the game and I told him that they just might try to sneak a first-pitch fastball by him,” Littlewood said. “I told him to look inner half and stay in his zone, and when I saw that thing going out, I was just patting him on the back. He’s one of those guys that whatever you tell him he just absorbs it and he’ll try to put it right into play. It’s fun to watch him play.”
Hannemann picked up another RBI on a double in the second, followed by a bases-clearing double by Jaycob Brugman to put the Cougars up 6-0, giving BYU the advantage of playing from ahead with confidence.
“I think we can do a lot more things when we have the lead,” Littlewood said. “Obviously you’re going to be a little more aggressive with hit-and-runs, steal a base or take an extra base. When you look at our stats, we don’t have a lot of stolen-base attempts and that’s just been the type of year we’ve had. You’d think usually pitchers would be a little more comfortable. That’s not quite how the eighth inning turned out with a couple walks and a hit batsman.
"But with the lead you want to work ahead and be more aggressive and for the most part that’s what we did tonight.”
Utah picked up two runs in the eighth on miscues by the Cougars, but it was too little, too late. With the victory, BYU added to its 233-109-2 all-time lead in the series in one of the nation's oldest rivalries.
The Cougars travel to Spokane, Wash., this weekend to take on Gonzaga in a key matchup in the West Coast Conference before coming back to Utah to take on Utah Valley University in Orem on April 30.
Meanwhile, the Utes welcome Arizona State to Spring Mobile Ballpark for a three game set beginning Friday at 6 p.m.
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