Favored San Diego increased its stranglehold on first place with a 5-1 victory over BYU baseball Friday at Larry H. Miller field.
“I felt we played better and (pitcher) Jeff Barker gave us a great start,” BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said. “I told them (the team) last night they (San Diego) looked like the Yankees and tonight they just looked like a really good college baseball team. But what I liked is that we minimized the pain and didn’t give up six or seven. Overall we don’t like the loss obviously, but we’re trying to take positives from it.”
Hayden Nielsen led the Cougars with two of BYU’s seven hits. In two games the Cougars formed a pattern securing most of their hits with either one or two outs, leaving eight runners stranded on base Friday night.
Though ineffective offensively, BYU was solid defensively through seven innings. San Diego, picked to win in the West Coast Conference in the preseason poll, took advantage of BYU’s eighth-inning miscues to secure the win.
Shutting USD down early in the second, BYU turned a double play retiring the Toreros in order. Snagging the ball at shortstop, Nielsen flipped it to Parker Starr relaying to Brock Whitney on the high grab at first to beat the runner.
The Toreros scored first, but with an unearned run. Barker came out strong on the mound forcing San Diego to swing early in the game. But after a double to put a man on second, Barker walked three in a row, handing San Diego the lead.
Eric Urry singled in the third inning to record the Cougar’s first hit. Hustling to the bag he beat the throw to first before advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt from Nielsen. Starr enabled the only run, bringing in Urry on a throwing error from the third baseman and tying the game at 1-1.
The Cougars remained strong defensively, holding the Toreros to one run and limiting the amount of batters Barker faced. In the fifth inning, catcher Jarrett Jarvis showed his arm, throwing a runner out at second to set USD down in order.
With bases loaded in the sixth, Barker walked in yet another Torero to give them their second run of the game. Rhett Nelson relieved him in the top of the seventh and came out throwing hard strikes and retiring two hitters in three at-bats.
Nelson looked different in the top of the eighth, beaning back-to-back batters and walking one to load the bases. Two singles and a wild pitch brought in three additional runs to give the Toreros the 5-1 advantage.
Jarvis couldn’t make contact with the ball throughout the night and ended his hitting streak at 15 games. Urry now leads the team with a seven-game hitting streak.
With royal blue jerseys and ace Kolton Mahoney on its side, BYU makes one final attempt to earn a victory on live BYUtv against San Diego on Saturday at 1 p.m.