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BYU baseball: St. George is site of BYU's 'home' opener

By Ralph R. Zobell

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 25 2014 3:05 p.m. MST

Mike Littlewood (right) talks to the umpire and opposing coach before the game. He coached 17 seasons in St. George where BYU's baseball team opens its 'home' season this Thursday against Seattle University.

Mark A. Philbrick, BYU Photo

Enlarge photo»

After nine games out of state, BYU’s baseball team hosts Seattle University in a three-game series starting Thursday in St. George.

Seattle (5-3) has not played a home game this season and neither have the Cougars (1-8).

“It will be nice to be back in Utah at our second home,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said of St. George. “Hopefully we can play better wearing the white uniforms.”

Sophomore outfielder Eric Urry was the only Cougar named to the all-tournament team at last week’s Kleberg Bank Classic in Texas. Urry batted .667, going 6-for-9 with three RBIs in four games at the Classic.

“He (Urry) is playing well and could be in the lineup more when he learns how to handle left-handers,” Littlewood said. “We’ll see three left-handers against Seattle and more from San Diego next week, so we need to solve that problem in a hurry.”

Seattle will be starting lefties Connor Moore (1-0, 0.75 earned run average), Andrew Olson (0-2, 10.24) and Mac Acker (2-0, 3.86) in that order.

The Cougars will be starting three right-handers against the Redhawks, leading off with senior co-captain Desmond Poulson (1-0, 2.77) on Thursday at 1 p.m. MST. Junior Jeff Barker (0-2, 6.14) and sophomore Kolton Mahoney (0-2, 3.75) will be BYU’s other starters. Littlewood said the order hasn’t been determined who would be on the hill on Friday at 1 p.m. and Saturday at noon.

Starting pitching hasn’t been the challenge for BYU, rather relief pitching and timely hitting have been concerns.

“I’m not sure we’ve gotten more than a couple two-out hits all season,” Littlewood said. “To get on base early in innings is important; otherwise our hands are pretty much tied.”

General admission is $5 for each game at Bruce Hurst Field on the Dixie State College campus, where Littlewood and his staff had several successful seasons before moving to BYU last season.

BYU has a 10-4 record against Seattle. The first meeting between the two schools was in 1979, a 9-4 Cougar victory at the Riverside Baseball Invitational when SU’s nickname was the Chieftains. BYU has a 5-3 record against Seattle in Washington and a 4-1 record against the Redhawks in Utah.

Seattle isn’t the first team from Washington to play in St. George. BYU lost twice to the University of Washington in St. George in 1999. In 1999 and 1998, BYU played in the Southern Utah Chiropractic and Ed Stangue tournaments against Southern Utah, Washington, Mesa State, Lewis-Clark State and San Francisco.

Last March, BYU baseball moved its home opening games vs. Creighton to St. George because of weather and won two of the three games in bookend fashion. BYU’s record in St. George is 5-6.

Following the Seattle series, BYU opens its home season at Larry H. Miller Field in Provo on Tuesday in the first of four Deseret First Duel games with the University of Utah starting at 6 p.m. MST.

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 ralph_zobell@byu.edu.

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