Playing baseball at BYU has never been a bright prospect for Colorado State. But this year's trip was even worse than normal. Thursday afternoon, as the Rams boarded buses to come to Provo For a four-game series, they learned their program is being discontinued at the end of the season. Early Friday afternoon they were no-hit by BYU pitcher John DeSilva, 3-0, in the first game of a doubleheader. Then in the nightcap CSU went ahead 11-9 in the late innings, only to lose 12-11 when the Cougars scored a run in the bottom of the seventh.
The Rams are having a week like Exxon.
The loss left CSU at 10-19 on the year and 1-5 in the WAC while BYU improved to 20-10 and 4-3.
While CSU suffered, BYU continued to worry about problems of its own. The first game was flawless and harmonic; the second sloppy and confusing. "All I can say," said Pullins, "is come back for the next exciting episode."
That next episode is today when the clubs meet in a 1 p.m. doubleheader at Cougar Field.
As the Rams worked through the shock of finding they won't have jobs next year, DeSilva wasted no time in turning their day from bad to awful. The Cougar right-hander breezed through the first four innings without being troubled by more than a couple of walks.
First-baseman Randy Wilstead took care of all the scoring the Cougars would need by singling in a run in the first off CSU pitcher Jay Hardy.
As the game wore on the Cougar dugout got quiet and players _ ever aware of old baseball superstitions _ conspicuously avoided mentioning that DeSilva was working on a no-hitter. But in the fifth, with BYU ahead 1-0, the pressure began to build. Center-fielder Devin Kunz saved DeSilva's game by making a sprinting catch before crashing into the outfield wall.
Apparently forgetting protocol, Kunz asked in the dugout if DeSilva was throwing a no-hitter. "Nobody said anything until then," said DeSilva. "I just looked at him and said, `I didn't hear that."'
"People were shushing me and knocking on the bench," said Kunz. "I knew you weren't supposed to say anything; I just forgot."
DeSilva wasn't out of the woods even then. Former player Mike Willes leaned into the dugout and asked assistant coach Bob Noel, "Is he pitching what I think he's pitching? What's he working on?"
Willes did, however, meticulously avoid using the "N-word."
In the sixth the Rams flew out twice to the outfield and grounded out. In the final inning DeSilva grounded out Robert Ferneau, got Jim Campbell to pop up weakly and then got Earl Thomas on an infield grounder. "I was a little nervous at the end," said DeSilva.
DeSilva finished with three strikeouts and no walks in pitching the first BYU no-hitter since Peter Kendrick did so in 1981. It was the sixth no-hitter in BYU history.
The Cougars got solo homers from Brad Eagar and Kunz in the fifth and six innings, respectively. Eagar walloped three homers over two games and drove in five runs.
The nightcap was the flip side of the first game. BYU fell behind 2-0, vaulted ahead 9-2, then sweated out the finish. Aided by four BYU errors, the Rams charged back with five runs in the fourth and four more in the fifth to move up 11-9. Most of the damage was done by outfielder Ferneau, who drove in five runs, including two on a first-inning homer.
But the Cougars were set on making it an all-around awful day for CSU. They rallied to tie the score on Brent Brown's two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth, setting the stage for the controversial seventh inning. Paul Cluff hit a two-out, two-on infield grounder and slid head-first into first base. The safe call drew protests from the CSU side. They intensified one batter later when Brown singled to center scoring the winning run.
"I don't know if I was safe," said Cluff. "I wanted to see if I could get some dust flying. You make the call."