Nine unearned runs in the decisive second inning propelled the Utah baseball team to a 13-6 victory Tuesday over BYU at Cougar Field.
To say those runs were unearned takes nothing away from the Utes, however. It merely indicates how they outplayed the Cougars in every phase - hitting, pitching and fielding."It was a terrible game for us," said BYU coach Gary Pullins. "We took a giant step backward today."
It also had to be a big morale booster for the Utes, who have struggled even to stay in games with the Cougars in recent years. But Utah coach Rick Sofield emphasized that it means much more than that. "It's a big win in the WAC," he said. "Our goal is to get to the playoffs, and we think the way to reach that goal is through Provo."
The hero for the Utes was starting pitcher Matt Lipscomb, a righthander who entered the game with an ERA of 9.07. He didn't improve that figure much, after giving up four runs in the eighth, but through the first seven innings he was nearly untouchable. By then Utah's lead was 13-2, so it didn't matter much what he did in the eighth.
Still, the key inning was the second, and here's how it went: Trailing 1-0 after a first-inning homer by Utah's Mike Hughes, BYU starter Lance Clark gave up a leadoff single to Mike Oziminski. He struck out Shane Jones and got Matt Mosiello to hit a double-play ball to second baseman Brent Turley. Turley threw the ball away, however, and Oziminski advanced to third. Clark struck out Robert Castellano for the second out and got Adam Sessions to hit a routine ground ball to shortstop Jeff Howes, who couldn't make the play. The ball was ruled a hit, and Oziminski scored.
Clark walked Mike Aranzullo to load the bases, and Hughes smacked a line drive that glanced off the glove of first baseman Chris Cooper (ruled an error) that scored two. WAC home-run leader Mike Edwards then popped his 14th homer of the season to make it 7-0, and two walks later Jones homered to put the Cougs behind 10-0. The final tally for the inning: Nine runs on four hits and two errors.
Clark left at that point, followed by a succession of relievers, but it was essentially over. The Cougars got back-to-back homers by Cooper and Brent Brown in the fourth and made a little noise in the eighth with four runs, including a two-run homer by Cooper, but they never got closer than seven after the second inning.
The victory vaulted the Utes from sixth place in the WAC into a tie for third (5-6 WAC, 16-24 overall), while the Cougars drop from fourth to sixth (3-5, 18-10).
The teams play again Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Derks Field. Senior righthander Bill Moeller (1-6, 6.25) will be on the mound for the Utes, faced by senior lefty Rob Jensen (5-4, 5.44).