Kolton Mahoney struck out nine Pilots to lift BYU baseball to a 6-3 win Friday securing its second victory in the Portland series.
The Cougars, now 21-31 and 11-15 in the West Coast Conference, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning at Portland, now 11-40 and 5-21 in the WCC.
Leadoff batter Chet Thompson singled to left field in the first inning, and then Mahoney registered two of his nine strikeouts before picking Thompson off first base to end the frame.
Mahoney, now 6-6, limited Portland to that single until he gave up his second hit of the game in the seventh but ended that inning with his sixth strikeout.
“My curve was working along with my slider, everything was over the plate,” Mahoney said. “It makes it a lot easier so you can just go out and throw strikes.”
Mahoney’s shutout vanished in the eighth with a two-run double, followed by another double. He gave up three unearned runs even though he struck out three Pilots in that frame, but a catcher throwing error after his first K opened the door.
“It shows how important it is for quality pitching to go deep,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “He (Mahoney) was outstanding today, not quite as good as his no-hitter, but it was close.”
Chris Howard and Brandon Kinser relieved Mahoney in the ninth, with Kinser securing his sixth save of the season.
In addition to Mahoney’s first-inning pickoff, another stellar BYU defensive play came when right fielder Kelton Caldwell made an over-the-shoulder catch on the warning track to end the third inning with one Pilot left on base.
The Cougar offense continued to generate runs. Bret Lopez scored BYU’s third run in the sixth thanks to a sac-bunt, then advanced home on a wild pitch. Hayden Nielsen doubled in Jarrett Jarvis with one out for a 4-0 lead that same inning.
Nielsen led off the eighth with his second double of the day, then advanced to third on the outfielder fielding error. Nielsen then scored on Eric Urry’s groundout as Brennon Lund advanced to second. Lund stole third and scored on the overthrow to extend the Cougar lead to 6-0.
“I love to see the fight and fire still in them, when really we have nothing to play for right now,” Littlewood said. “I like how the guys are responding. It was a very solid performance. Look at the silver lining, guys are starting to understand what it is going to take to compete at BYU.”
BYU concludes its season in the third game of the Portland series at 11 a.m. PDT on Saturday.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.