Clutch pitching and timely hitting provided a 6-5 victory for BYU baseball at Gonzaga on Thursday evening.
The Cougars improved to 10-11 overall and 3-1 in the West Coast Conference, while Gonzaga fell to 10-11 and 1-3. BYU has won eight of its past nine games, including the last three in a row after a 2-10 start.
Pitchers Kolton Mahoney (now 2-2), Keaton Cenatiempo and Michael Rucker worked out of several jams. Mahoney got out of bases-loaded situations in the third and fifth innings. Mahoney retired the side in order in the first, fourth and sixth innings.
Cenatiempo walked two in the eighth after replacing Mahoney and recorded a swinging strikeout between groundouts. Rucker, a Gonzaga transfer, struck out three in the ninth, but not before the Zags loaded the bases and rallied from a 6-1 deficit.
“I can't say enough about the way Kolton Mahoney took the mound tonight,” BYU Coach Mike Littlewood said. “He was aggressive, worked out of jams and gave us the start we needed to get this series going. I'm really proud of Mike (Rucker) as well. It's a tough thing to come back to your former team and close out a game — he needed to get that one under his belt.”
The Cougars collected eight of their nine hits from the first six batters in the lineup.
Colton Shaver led off with double to left center field in the second inning and scored on Eric Urry's one-out double to right field. Urry scored BYU’s second run of the inning after advancing to third on the throw home in an attempt to get Shaver, then scored when Brennon Lund got aboard on a first-baseman error.
Lund plated BYU’s fourth run in the sixth inning off a wild pitch.
The Cougars went hitless after Dillon Robinson’s double to left-center in the third frame until Lund extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single in the ninth. Chauncey doubled in Lund from second, then scored on Robinson’s single in the ninth for a 6-1 lead.
“Offensively we came out aggressive and set a nice tone early,” Littlewood said. “Despite striking out 10 times we got timely hitting that enabled us to get the win. This is a tough place to come in and win and I'm really happy for our guys. We need to carry this momentum into Friday.”
Hayden Nielsen extended his hitting streak to eight games with a first-inning single.
The Cougars continue WCC action with a Friday tilt against Gonzaga at 6 p.m. PDT, that will be broadcast live on BYU Radio 960 AM and live audio stream, as well as live video by theW.tv.
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].