If nothing else, BYU and San Diego State established one thing for certain this weekend: bad blood.
Saturday's doubleheader ended the way any self-respecting grudge match ends: with taunts, accusations, grievances and promises. The teams stayed clear of fighting, but it wasn't for lack of enthusiasm. San Diego State left the field in a huff, failing to shake hands afterward. Both left the field claiming the other plays dirty baseball. And both left the weekend series with two wins.Now they'll have to wait two weeks to resume things in the WAC tournament.
Cougar pitcher John DeSilva turned in another in a string of fine performances, tossing a four-hitter as the Cougars beat SDSU 2-1 in the opener. In the nightcap, BYU first-baseman Randy Wilstead planted a Dave Riddle fastball over the center field fence with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to give the Cougars a 5-4 victory.
The wins moved BYU's WAC record to 20-7 - good enough for first place - while the Aztecs remained in third place at 14-8. BYU is 42-14 overall; SDSU is 33-22. Hawaii, a two-time loser to Utah in Salt Lake, fell to second place at 17-7.
The fact that neither team could establish dominance in the four-game series - SDSU won twice on Friday - didn't do much for school relations. During the two-day affair, both clubs complained about the tactics of the opposition.
Saturday's final game was held up briefly during a dispute at third base. Later, the complaints moved over to first base, where BYU's Wilstead claimed he had been elbowed several times by Aztec baserunners.
But Wilstead got the last say. After hitting the game-winning homer, a three-run blast, he breached baseball etiquette by leaning on the bat and admiring his work for several seconds before breaking into a slow trot.
Asked if he thought the pitcher would remember the move, Wilstead said, "I hope so. They were throwing elbows all day long after grounding out. I knew if I hit one out, I'd let him (the pitcher) know I hit it."
BYU trailed 4-2 going into the bottom of the seventh inning, and with two out and a man on, the Cougars didn't appear a serious threat to Aztec pitcher Riddle. The WAC's ERA leader (0.93) had been sharp all day, with the exception of a curious lapse in which he surrendered back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning. Other than that, Riddle had allowed nothing more dangerous than a bunt single.
But he walked BYU pinch-hitter Jeff Rush in the seventh, bringing up Wilstead with two men on and two outs.
Wilstead hit the ball into the scenery.
"I was onto that pitcher. I like that pitcher," said Wilstead. "I wanted to hit him all day, but he walked me twice."
While Rush was batting, Wilstead fussed in the on-deck circle mumbling, "Come on. Get on base. Please, get on base."
"I was praying for a chance to get up to bat right then," Wilstead said.
Riddle said he didn't see Wilstead standing at home plate, but did note the Cougars throwing elbows to the ribs of Aztec players.
"This is my fourth year. Every year they're trying that stuff," said Riddle.
In the opener, DeSilva, whose record is now 13-2, produced three hitless innings before being touched for three hits in the fourth. He was tagged for one unearned run that inning, when a man scored on a double play.
The Cougars, in the mood for late comebacks all day, tallied twice in the bottom of the sixth off Aztec hurler Jim Gibbs. One run crossed the plate on a wild pitch and the other on a fielder's choice grounder by Paul Cluff.
Gibbs, 3-2, also allowed only four hits.
The Cougars have only one WAC game left, a Wednesday contest at Utah. SDSU returns home to meet Hawaii in a four-game stand.
"We came back, and that's not easy to do," said BYU Coach Gary Pullins, who, nevertheless, expressed disappointment over his team's tepid offensive output. "But we won today. A lot of clubs around would have folded up the tent."
Utah 7, Hawaii 4
Utah 4, Hawaii 3
After dropping both ends of a doubleheader to Hawaii on Friday, Utah gained some revenge by sweeping two games from the Rainbows on Saturday.
Utah second baseman Chad Bianco hit a bases-loaded one-out grounder, knocking in Travis Hansen from third to give Utah a 4-3 victory in the second game.
Ute pitcher Paul Barton got the win going the distance. Jeff Vierra suffered the loss.
With the score tied 3-3 going into the bottom of the seventh, Hansen led off with a single and moved to second on Mike Aranzullo's sacrifice bunt. Tim Blackham got another single and Lance Madsen was intentionally walked to load the bases setting up Bianco for the game-winning RBI.
In the first game, Ute pitcher Craig Sudbury notched his seventh win of the year going the distance with a six hitter. Rightfielder Steve Sigloch had three RBIs on two doubles to pace Utah. For the weekend, Sigloch had nine RBIs.
With the wins, Utah improves to 17-30 overall and 10-17 in Western Athletic Conference play. Hawaii drops to 35-21 and 17-7.