Hurler Kolton Mahoney helped BYU baseball snap an eight-game losing streak Friday for a 7-5 win over the University of San Francisco.
Mahoney garnered his fifth save of his Cougar career as he preserved the victory and gave BYU its first win this season in West Coast Conference action.
BYU (8-16, 1-4) built a 7-0 lead through six-plus innings before USF knocked a pair of homers in the seventh and eighth innings, followed by three doubles to close the gap to 7-5.
Cougar junior Jeff Barker got his second win of the season as he threw 7.1 innings and struck out seven Dons with effective pitches. Then, Barker struggled as did two Cougar relievers before Mahoney came in for the save.
Mahoney threw Bradley Zimmer two strikes before being fouled off and then struck him out swinging as the only batter he faced in the disastrous eighth inning.
“When he (Zimmer) got out I was thinking he’s done for the game,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “He is a lineup changer. Kolton is probably the only guy on our staff that could get him out. He is not only a first rounder, he’s a top 15 pick.”
Littlewood was complementary of Barker and his team.
"Barker had an incredible game,” Littlewood said. “I looked at it as a must win. Not for one second did I think it was going to be easy. I am proud of our guys. You almost expect bad things to happen when you see a team put together a run like they (USF) did, but we showed a little resiliency and that is what I want us to show. I tip my hat to our guys for doing that. I wanted to score first and put the pressure on.”
Cougar Brennon Lund led off with a single, stole second, advanced to third on Parker Starr's sac-bunt and scored on Brock Whitney's sac-fly for a 1-0 first inning lead.
BYU cranked three runs in the third as Bryan Heward drew a leadoff walk, Hayden Nielsen doubled and both scored from singles by Lund and Starr.
Nielsen and Lund combined again for two of the three runs in the fourth. Nielsen stole second after being robbed of a single for a fielder’s choice. Lund singled and took second on a throw home when Nielsen scored. Lund then stole third when Starr faked a bunt and scored BYU’s sixth run off a wild pitch.
Nielsen initiated a key double play for the first two outs of the ninth inning on a 6-4-3 effort.
“We executed well with most things we did,” Littlewood said. “Those are the things that make a season turn around (key double play). We’ll wake up and see how Kolton feels, but that double play gives him the opportunity to start tomorrow.”
The last of the three-game series in the ninth annual Dante Benedetti Classic against San Francisco (10-10, 1-4) will be Saturday at noon at AT&T Park, home of the Major League Giants.
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.