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Tom Smart, Deseret News
BYU celebrates a score as Brigham Young University plays University of Utah in baseball Tuesday, April 23, 2013, in Provo.

Coming off a bittersweet bye week, BYU's baseball team readied for its next nine instate games starting this Tuesday night at Utah Valley University (19-22).

“We came off of a weekend where we played very well and could have ridden that momentum into the following week,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said as the Cougars took time off for final exams and a couple of practices as the sweet part of the deal. “We used last week to get rested, healed up and prepared to make a final push at a conference tournament berth.”

BYU, 16-25 overall and 7-11 in the West Coast Conference, will start senior co-captain Desmond Poulson (4-5, 4.73) in a pre-designated role as it rotates through its pitching corps Tuesday at 6 p.m.

“We have a huge game at Utah Valley and hopefully we can get a little redemption from our previous game. Eric Madsen (UVU coach) does a great job with his team and I know they will come out ready to play.”

After the non-conference game at UVU, the Cougars host league Gonzaga this week, then Santa Clara the following week, before closing league action at Portland. In between the WCC games are two non-league games with Utah.

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“We feel like we need to win seven or eight of our remaining nine league games in order to secure a playoff spot,” Littlewood said. “Right now that is in our grasp and we will come out and fight with everything we have no matter where we are in the standings. Gonzaga is a great team and it should be an exciting series with a lot on the line for both teams.”

Jeff Barker (3-5, 4.48) will start the series against Gonzaga, followed by Poulson returning to the mound on Friday. Thursday and Friday's games are at 6 p.m. On Saturday at 1 p.m., Kolton Mahoney (5-5, 4.30) takes the hill for the Cougars.

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 ralph_zobell@byu.edu.