Tom Smart, Deseret News
PROVO — As it approaches its last two conference series of the regular season, BYU's baseball team has surpassed most expectations in 2013. A tough-minded attitude and steady approach has keyed the team’s success under first-year head coach Mike Littlewood, and the Cougars have received standout performances from players such as Jacob Hannemann, Jaycob Brugman, Adam Law and Desmond Poulson — among others.
Law leads the team in batting with his .346 average, just edging out freshman Hannemann’s .345 mark. Brugman is the team leader in RBIs and home runs with 47 and nine, respectively. Poulson has led from the mound with his 6-1 record and 2.50 ERA, and reliever Matt Milke has chipped in a 2.13 ERA and three saves in his team-high 22 appearances.
The Cougars currently sit in fourth place in the West Coast Conference with a 10-8 conference record and are currently positioned to qualify for the four-team WCC tournament.
“I think we’ve probably exceeded everyone’s expectations but our own,” Littlewood said. “Our goal, starting the season, was to make the West Coast Conference tournament and we kind of control our own destiny in that regard with the next two weekends.”
First up is a critical series this weekend at home versus second-place San Francisco. The Cougars then close out WCC play with a home series against St. Mary’s, which is just one game behind the Cougars in the conference standings at 9-9.
While BYU is currently where it needs to be, the Cougars realize that could change quickly with two teams (Pepperdine and St. Mary’s) just one game out of the fourth-place slot and another (Loyola Marymount) just 1 1/2 games out.
“(The season) has been a positive, but if we don’t make the West Coast Conference tournament, then that feeling we have right now is going to turn negative real quick,” Littlewood said. “We were picked to finish near the bottom by the coaches but I think we have a real chance to win every night we go out and play.”
BYU will start its three-game series against San Francisco Thursday at 6 p.m. MDT at Miller Park and wrap it up Saturday at 1 p.m. MDT.
Before Saturday’s game the team will retire the numbers of legendary BYU coaches Glen Tuckett and Gary Pullins in a special ceremony.
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