Jeff Barker quieted the bats of Loyola Marymount University until BYU caught fire and pulled out a 6-2 victory Friday night at Larry H. Miller Field.
“Jeff Barker came out and gave us a tremendous start,” BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said. “He’s been good in most of his starts this year and we really needed that leadership and that outing from him. Our whole goal is to put nine innings together, one inning at a time and look what happened on the scoreboard.”
Barker, the reigning West Coast Conference pitcher of the week for his 1-0 upset over No. 24 Pepperdine, made the difference for the Cougars (15-25, 6-11 WCC). He threw eight innings for eight hits and only one earned run to improve his record to 3-5.
“Early on I could tell that everything was working so I went out there with a lot of confidence and our team came out and swung it,” Barker said. “It makes it easy to get into a comfort zone when you have a good run support.”
The Lions (24-15, 12-5 WCC), who lost their seven-game winning streak, got on base early, reaching first on an error by the first baseman. Their first run crossed the plate after a two-out RBI single to right-center field.
The Cougars loaded the bases with back-to-back walks and a hit by pitch, bringing Kelton Caldwell to the plate. He hit a sacrifice fly to center to tie the score at 1-1.
In the bottom of the third, the Cougars scored one run on no hits. They pieced together errors and sacrifice plays to bring Brennon Lund in and lift BYU over LMU, 2-1.
Catcher Jarrett Jarvis recorded the first hit of the game in the bottom of the fourth with a hard-hit single to left field. Snyder and Hayden Nielsen followed with a single apiece, but the Cougars couldn’t plate another run.
With a new pitcher on the mound in the fifth, the Cougars earned one run on a single from Parker Starr who scored on a wild pitch.
Lopez led the sixth with a double to left field. Snyder had a one-out single for an RBI to extend BYU’s lead to 4-1.
Eric Urry singled up the middle to start the seventh and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. LMU intentionally walked Caldwell hoping to push the next batter, Lopez, into a force out. To their disappointment, Lopez came up clutch with the solo triple of the game.
Center fielder Lund made a running and diving catch for the final out in the top of the eighth. But the Cougars were shut down in the bottom of the inning, with three consecutive strikeouts.
With Brandon Kinser closing, the Cougars turned a double play hoping to quickly get out of the inning. The Lions fought back with four hits and one run in the top of the ninth, but they were stopped in their tracks with a ground out to third.
Game three on Saturday concludes the series against LMU and begins at 1 p.m.
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