Junior Derrick Whitney led the way with two hits and an outfield assist in a losing effort Thursday night as BYU baseball dropped its West Coast Conference opener against Pepperdine, 11-3.
“It has to be an outlier," BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said. “This is the worst we have played this year and it is a tough time to do it. We will be back and we will battle Friday.”
The Cougars (7-11, 0-1) got the scoring started in the bottom half of the first inning. Brennon Lund set the tone for BYU with a 10-pitch walk after fouling off several balls. Hayden Nielsen followed that with the Cougars’ first hit with a single. After Tanner Chauncey bunted the runners over, a Colton Shaver chopper to third scored Lund.
The Waves (9-9, 1-0), who are picked to finish second in the WCC, bounced back in the top of the second with four runs of their own. After a bunt single, two walks from BYU starter Kolton Mahoney loaded the bases for Manny Jefferson who plated two on a double to center. The next batter was hit by a pitch, and Mahoney’s fourth and fifth walks gave Pepperdine the 4-1 lead and ended Mahoney’s night. The Waves scored seven more in the fifth through eight innings.
Defensive struggles were the story of the night for the Cougars who walked 11 batters, hit a batter and recorded two errors in the game.
“You cannot win ball games like that,” Littlewood said. “Fourteen times you are giving them first base. You cannot do that.”
On the other side, Waves starter Jackson McClelland (3-1) threw 112 pitches during seven innings and gave up two earned runs. Whitney chipped into the lead in the bottom half of the second with a double down the first-base line. Lund brought him around to score a couple of batters later when he singled to left-center.
“Derrick had a really good approach tonight and is just getting better and better,” Littlewood said. “At some point you have to start moving him up the lineup.”
Whitney finished 2-for-3 with a double, a run scored and had a run-saving, outfield assist at the plate. Lund also had a productive day for the Cougars going 1-for-3 with an RBI, a run and a walk. Mahoney left the game after 1.1 innings having given up four runs on three hits and five walks while striking out two. James Lengal was the only BYU pitcher to retire the Waves in order in the ninth giving up no hits and one walk, aided by a 4-6-3 double play.
The Cougars are back in action at Larry H. Miller Field on Friday at 6 p.m. MDT, against Pepperdine when Jeff Barker will be on the hill for BYU. The game will be broadcast on BYUtv and can be heard on KOVO 960 AM and BYU Sports Radio – Sirius XM 143.