IRVINE, Calif.— Late-inning BYU baseball rallies came too late in a 9-2 loss UC Irvine Saturday afternoon.
BYU (5-6) found its stride returning from the previous night’s 6-1 victory over the Anteaters (8-6).
Five of BYU’s seven hits Saturday did not come until after pitcher Crosby Slaught left the game in the seventh inning. Slaught pitched a no-hitter through the first three innings until BYU’s Jaycob Brugman singled in the fourth.
“We hit a lot of balls hard, but our production wasn’t very good,” said BYU coach Vance Law.
A fifth-inning solo home run by UCI freshman Taylor Sparks was the first dinger surrendered this season by BYU and the first of the season by an Anteater, which extended UCI's lead 8-0.
Then in the seventh inning, Alex Wolfe led off with a hard double, which chased Slaught off the mound and enabled the senior co-captain to score BYU’s first run. That made the score 8-1.
Prior to that breakthrough, Brugman added a ray of light when he recorded his first outfield assist of the year. The BYU rightfielder threw out Christian Ramirez at second base. In the sixth inning, Brugman narrowly missed pulling off an inning-ending double play when an Anteater lined out to him and the sophomore nearly threw out Connor Spencer trotting back to first base.
The Cougar hustle continued in the sixth when first baseman Brock Whitney stretched to field the bullet fired by shortstop Tanner Chauncey to strand Spencer at third and end the inning.
The Cougars’ second run of the game came in the ninth when with bases loaded, Whitney scored after extending his hitting streak to a team-leading four games.
“It all boils down to pitching,” said Law. “You can’t defend walks or hit batters. Contrast that with their pitcher (Slaught) was throwing strikes and only walked one batter.”
Sophomore lefty Daniel Welch was one of four BYU relievers on the day, giving up no runs in two innings to remain one of five Cougars with 0.00 earned run averages.
BYU flies to Nebraska where it plays Nebraska-Omaha on Monday afternoon, followed by a Tuesday afternoon game at Creighton.
Ralph R. Zobell has worked for BYU Athletic Media Relations in various capacities for over 30 years. You can view his bio at http://byucougars.com/staff/athletics/ralph-zobell or contact him at [email protected].