BYU baseball coach Vance Law was incredulous.
"I've never witnessed anything like this before in my life," Law said after BYU's 13-10, come-from-behind victory over rival Utah on Saturday afternoon in Salt Lake City.
"It was an incredible game," said Law, whose team bounced back from a 10-0 deficit with a 12-run eighth inning. And the reward a Cougar victory, the baseball trophy from the Deseret First Duel and bragging rights, at least until the two teams lock horns again Tuesday night in the opening round of the Mountain West Conference Tournament in Fort Worth, Texas.
Kasey Ko finally got BYU on the scoreboard with an RBI single in the
eighth inning to bring Dan Vargas across the plate. Then Steve Parker singled to right field, scoring Kent Walton, and Utah brought in ace reliever Robert Chimpky.
Jonathan Cluff then singled in Ko; Brandon Relf singled in Parker; Bryce Ayoso brought in Cluff; Andrew Law singled in Relf all with no outs and Utah's lead was trimmed to 10-6.
With Walton at the plate as the game-tying run and bases loaded,
Chimky walked him. Ko came up again in the eighth and stroked a two-run single to bring BYU within one, 10-9. Cluff singled in the tying run in the form of Walton. Relf's game-winning RBI single to right scored pinch-runner Michael Bowen and chased Chimpky from the mound with the Cougars ahead 11-10.
Utah lefty Tyler Andersen went to the mound, but added insult to the injury as his balk scored Cluff to put BYU up 12-10. All told, BYU scored 12 runs off 11 hits and one Utah error.
"Our players continued to believe something good was going to happen," Law said. "Who would have ever though (that) being down 10-0 in the seventh?"
"I looked out at the scoreboard and thought, 'Can this really happen?'"
When the stunned Utes came to bat in the eighth, down 12-10, they got a brief glimmer of hope with their first two runners aboard. Then Cougar reliever Jared Miller slammed the door to earn his fourth save of the season.
"It's great playing rivalry games," said Miller, a lefty who transferred from Cal State Northridge. "Those 10 runs came quick and it was awesome to watch. I wanted to go out and get the inning over quickly."
The fourth-seeded Cougars are now 22-34 overall and 10-14 in the MWC, while fifth-seeded Utah falls to 23-26 and 10-14.
HAWAII 9, UTAH VALLEY 6: At Honolulu, the Wolverines dropped a contest at Hawaii on Friday, evening up a three-game series.
The Warriors (27-28) led 3-2 in the sixth with two outs and nobody on, but were able to plate four runs to take a five-run lead that the Wolverines (16-36-1) couldn't overcome.
Ryan Jones had two hits and three runs batted in while Jace Brinkerhoff had two hits including a ninth inning home run and two RBI for UV.
SOUTHERN UTAH: At Rochester, Mich., the Thunderbirds secured a spot in The Summit League Baseball Tournament by way of a doubleheader split against Oakland University on Friday afternoon. The Golden Grizzlies took game one 17-6 after an 11-run eighth inning, but the Thunderbirds came back in game two to take an 8-3 victory.
On Saturday, the T-Birds scored two runs in the top of the ninth to force extra innings and then scored the winning run in the top of the 10th to come away with an 11-10 victory over Oakland University. The win solidified SUU's place as the No. 2 seed going into The Summit League tournament next weekend with an overall record of 29-26 and 16-11 conference mark.