No. 16 UC Santa Barbara hung onto its ranking and a fourth victory, 5-4, on Monday afternoon over BYU baseball.
The Gauchos (4-0) retained their No. 16 ranking for the second week by Collegiate Baseball magazine but got a scare in the final game against BYU (0-4).
The Cougars were trailing 5-2 before hanging a pair of runs against four Gaucho pitchers in the seventh inning and stranding the bases loaded.
“Overall, we played a very solid nine innings today and I was very encouraged by our intensity and energy,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “Santa Barbara is a quality team and we are a better team after playing them.”
Trailing 2-0, freshman Colton Shaver scored BYU’s first run when sophomore Brennon Lund chopped a two-out single over the mound in the fifth. A pair of errors enabled Cougar junior Hayden Nielsen to score a second run in the sixth frame, countering the three runs UCSB posted in its previous at-bat.
BYU scored Bronson Larsen and Shaver again in the seventh, thanks to an opposite field single by Nielsen, but UCSB got a check-swing strikeout with the bases loaded to end the threat.
Other Cougar highlights were a 4-6-3 double play that got Cougar reliever Brandon Kinser out of a jam in the bottom of seventh. BYU reliever Michael Rucker struck out the final batter in the eight to retire the Gauchos in order for the first time in the game.
“We continue to give up free bases here and there throughout games and every time it comes back to hurt us,” Littlewood said.
The Cougars have a short week as they fly out again, this time to Arizona where they host Nebraska in a four-game series that starts Thursday in Peoria.
Ralph R. Zobell has worked for BYU Athletic Media Relations in various capacities for over 30 years. You can view his bio at byucougars.com/staff/athletics/ralph-zobell or contact him at [email protected].