BYU men's baseball fell, 8-6, to Santa Clara on Thursday night at Miller Field to keep the Broncos' West Coast Conference playoff hopes alive.
"I was nervous going into today," BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said. "I knew that our pitching lineup might struggle late in the game. It's a difficult loss after taking a 6-3 lead, but this is athletics and we have to come back tomorrow and try to win against this team. We just have to get better."
With the loss, BYU falls to 18-29 (8-14 WCC) on the year while Santa Clara improves to 23-26 (13-9) for the season. The Cougars had 16 hits to the Broncos' 10.
Brock Whitney and Brennon Lund each went 4-for-5 in the game, with Whitney getting two RBIs. Desmond Poulson pitched for six innings, getting three strikeouts in the process.
The game remained scoreless through the first two innings with just a pair of hits to show for each side. Whitney was stranded on first while Eric Urry remained in scoring position on third before a Kelton Caldwell pop fly was taken by Santa Clara to end the first inning.
In the third inning, the Broncos scored an unearned run after grounding out to the shortstop. Following the RBI, Santa Clara's Stevie Berman singled up the middle to give his team a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the third.
After Urry stole second base, the Cougars had two runners in scoring position. Following a Bronco fielding error, Lund put BYU on the board for the first time. With runners on the corners, Whitney contributed an RBI single to tie things up at 2-2. Caldwell then loaded the bases with a single before a Santa Clara double play ended the inning.
The Broncos took a 3-2 lead in the top of the fourth on a strikeout after a BYU fielding error. Despite having runners on the corners, the Cougars couldn't advance anyone to end the fourth.
Whitney doubled to right center in the bottom of the fifth, which was immediately followed with a double by Caldwell, allowing Whitney to score a tying run. The Cougars left two stranded on base to end the inning all knotted up at 3-3.
Lund, Urry and Dillon Robinson all singled to start things off in bottom of the sixth. Lund scored on the Robinson hit that was followed with an RBI single for Whitney, giving BYU its first lead of the game at 5-3. Following a Santa Clara pitching change Robinson scored on a Bronco throwing error to make the score 6-3 heading into the seventh.
Santa Clara put a run on the board to start the seventh inning. That was followed with a home run by the Broncos' Quinton Perry to cut the Cougar lead to 6-5.
In the top of the eighth, Santa Clara's Jose Vizcaino Jr. homered to left field to score two runs and retake a 7-6 lead. Chunner Nyberg came to pitch for BYU after the Broncos scored another run on a single to go up 8-6.
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With one out in the top of the ninth, Jarrett Jarvis lunged to collect a high Santa Clara foul bunt before throwing to first to make the double play and send the Cougars to the bottom of the inning. The momentum proved to be too late in the game as BYU remained scoreless to end with an 8-6 loss.
The Cougars face the Broncos again for game two of the series Friday at 6 p.m. MDT at Miller Park. The game will be broadcast live on TheW.tv. Links to live stats can be found on the BYU baseball schedule page.
Royce Hinton is the women's volleyball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.