SAN DIEGO — Another ninth-inning nail-bitter escaped BYU baseball’s grasp Friday as the University of San Diego won, 5-3.
For the second night in a row, the Cougars (9-9) saw their lead evaporate to the Toreros (13-6) who lead the West Coast Conference with a 2-0 record.
BYU’s Kelton Caldwell hit a two-run homer, scoring Brock Whitney in the second inning for a 2-0 Cougar lead. Caldwell added a third RBI in the third with a single that increased the margin to 3-0.
USD chipped away at the lead, scoring one in the third, tying the game at three-all in the fourth and taking a 5-3 lead in the fifth.
Reliever Wes Homick stymied the Cougar bats in order in the sixth and seventh innings, eventually striking out eight in the game.
In the bottom of the seventh, Jaycob Brugman turned a double play when Kris Bryant flew out to left field. The Cougar junior completed the double play when he threw out the Torero runner diving back into first base. That was Brugman’s fifth double play of his Cougar career and his 23rd assist from the outfield. The Cougars turned three double plays, to remain one of the NCAA leaders.
That momentum carried to the eighth frame. With two out and Cougars on first and second, Homick gave up back-to-back singles to Jarrett Jarvis and Bret Lopez. Jarvis tried to advance to third on a wild pitch but was thrown out to end the inning and a BYU threat.
In the bottom of the eighth, USD advanced a runner to third. Then, catcher Jarvis caught the Torero in a squeeze run-down with Adam Law tagging him before he reached home.
Law battled for a ninth-inning single as USD went through a pair of relievers replacing the lefty Homick, who improved his record to 3-0.
“It’s kind of telling if someone has an effective left-hander it’s going to shut us down with our lack of depth,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “He (Homick) had a good mix and was throwing three pitches for strikes. It was tough to solve him.
“We came out with a great mind-set, but we need to get more production out of our middle infield even though they are playing so well defensively. We pick and chose our innings the way our lineup shapes up. We don’t quit, and I guarantee you, we will come out with the same attitude. We have a hunger to win. We have played well enough to win the series.”
The Cougars complete the three-game series at USD on Saturday afternoon.
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.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company