We’re ready to keep fighting. —BYU’s Colton Shaver
BYU is playing in its first NCAA Tournament in 15 years but the Cougars find themselves in the same unfortunate position that they experienced just a week ago.
After falling to Cal State Fullerton, 13-2, Thursday afternoon in the Stanford Regional at Klein Field at Sunken Diamond, BYU faces an elimination game Friday (2 p.m. MDT, ESPN3).
The No. 3 seeded Cougars (37-20) will meet No. 4 Sacramento State (32-28), which lost to top-seed Stanford, 10-0, Thursday night.
BYU lost its first game in the West Coast Conference Tournament last week to Loyola Marymount, then won four consecutive elimination games to win the tournament and clinch a berth to the NCAA Tournament.
Once again, the Cougars must win to keep their season alive.
“We’re good at it. We know what it means to get in a hole and dig your way out of it,” BYU’s Colton Shaver told KOVO radio about playing in elimination games. “We’ve done that a few times this year. We’re ready to keep fighting.”
Cal State Fullerton (35-21), the No. 2 seed, jumped on the Cougars early and never let up. The Titans grabbed a 3-0 lead after one inning. They scored their first run after the throwing error by starting pitcher Brady Corless, who was trying to pick off a runner at third.
In the third inning, Cal State Fullerton went up 6-0 after a two-out, two-run home run by Hunter Cullen.
Cullen’s blast came off Jordan Wood, who had just replaced Corless.
Meanwhile, Titan pitcher Connor Seabold (11-4) retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced as BYU went down in order in the first two innings. He pitched seven innings and struck out eight.
“We got outhit, outpitched and outcoached this afternoon,” said BYU coach Mike Littlewood. “When you get to this point in a season you can't afford to not play your best and today we played less than our best. Seabold was outstanding today and just didn't give us many pitches to hit. He was everything the scouting reports said he was and we just couldn't crack him. We will come back (Friday) and give it everything we've got.”
Nate Favero’s RBI double in the fifth got the Cougars on the board, but they left two runners stranded. Shaver drilled a solo homer in the seventh, his 12th of the season.
Cal State Fullerton pounded out 22 hits against BYU’s pitching and the Cougars committed two errors.