PROVO — One swing of the bat changed everything for Utah in a thrilling 12-10 comeback win over BYU Tuesday evening at Miller Park.
With BYU seemingly cruising with a 9-4 lead in the top-half of the seventh, Ute catcher Konnor Armijo changed things in a hurry with a grand slam to cut the Cougars' lead to one run and snatch back almost all the momentum.
“It’s probably the biggest one so far in my career,” Armijo said of his home run over the left-center fence. “BYU (versus) Utah — you can’t get a bigger stage than that.”
Armijo’s heroics with two outs came after he swung at what easily would have been ball four. His ill-advised swing earned some apparent disapproval from the bench — specifically from Utah coach Bill Kinneberg.
“I gave him the look on that one,” Kinneberg said.
Armijo was determined to take a good swing on the next pitch, as a result, and he gave the Utes a huge shot in the arm.
“We haven’t had many home runs all year ... but Konnor got a good ball to hit, barreled it up and the ball went,” Kinneberg said. “It was a huge hit for us and a huge hit for him.”
In the top of the eighth, Utah continued the momentum that Armijo generated in the previous inning, tying the game a Kody Davis RBI single and then taking the lead on a bases-loaded walk. Armijo then provided his fifth and sixth RBIs with a single to give Utah a 12-9 lead.
BYU's Brock Whitney cut Utah's lead to 12-10 with a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth, but that would be it for the Cougars.
On top of Armijo's stellar play was a great effort from Utah reliever Josh Chapman from the mound. Chapman pitched 5 2/3 innings and allowed just two runs despite getting hit in the ankle on a ball struck right back at him in the seventh inning.
“That was gutty just staying out there,” Kinneberg said. “He was really hurting and wouldn’t come out, so he made one more pitch and it worked. But that was big for us.”
While Kinneberg was effusive with his praise for his team, BYU coach Mike Littlewood was not pleased with his players after they squandered a 9-2 lead.
“We send college players out there and they’re not playing college baseball, so it’s frustrating,” Littlewood bluntly stated.
With the win, Utah improves to 14-28 on the year and will next take on Washington State in a three-game series. BYU falls to 18-28.