Jeff Barker pitched a complete game Thursday to lead BYU baseball to an 11-1 victory over the Portland Pilots.
The junior hurler, now with a 6-5 mark, helped BYU improve its record to 20-31 overall and 10-15 in the West Coast Conference, while Portland falls to 11-39 and 5-20 in the league.
“We needed that start from Jeff to go deep,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “We were keeping our fingers crossed. He wasn’t sharp at first, but after the sixth inning he finished strong. He has learned how to battle through the tough times.”
Barker got the needed cushion from the Cougar offense which logged a hit from every batter for its tally of 14 for the game.
Cougar catcher Jarrett Jarvis hit a two-out double down the left field line to score Kelton Caldwell for a 1-0 lead in the second inning.
BYU loaded the bases with no outs and scored runs via Dillon Robinson’s single which lined off the glove of the first baseman and from a two-run single up the middle by Brock Whitney to start the four-run tally and extend the score to 5-0.
Hayden Nielsen led off with a double and crossed home on an Eric Urry groundout, then Brennon Lund scored on Robinson’s single in the sixth, expanding the margin to 7-1.
Then in the three-run seventh, Caldwell was hit by a pitch and scored on Bret Lopez’ no-out double down the left field line. Lund knocked a two-out single to score Lopez and Hansen to force a second Portland pitching change with a 10-1 lead.
Barker got help defensively, too.
BYU turned a 5-4-3 double play in the first inning which saved a run as Pilot Turner Gill then doubled but was stranded in the first inning. Cougar second baseman Trace Hansen could not regain his feet, so he threw from sitting position in the sixth inning to record the third out as the Pilots were retired in order.
“I was trying to find my pitches early and after that it was a lot easier to get guys out,” Barker said. “From then on I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
We came out and had a little fire and energy,” Littlewood said of his team that had lost six of the last seven games. “It showed a lot of class and character the way we came out today.”
The two teams continue play Friday at 3 p.m. PDT, in the second of a three-game at Portland which will be streamed live on TheW.tv.
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.