Sophomore Bronson Larsen’s three hits and three RBIs led BYU baseball to a 9-3 win over Portland on Saturday at Miller Park in Provo.
“To see Bronson do that was great,” BYU head coach Mike LIttlewood said. “Getting that kind of production from the catcher position was nice for us. I thought that as a team, we had professional at-bats today. I thought we executed very well offensively.”
Larsen put the Cougars (14-17, 6-6) on the board when he hammered a fastball over the left-field scoreboard for a two-run homer to give BYU the 2-1 lead. Eric Urry also scored on the home run after doubling earlier in the inning.
Larsen added another RBI in the fourth when the Cougars increased their lead to 4-1. Dillon Robinson opened the inning with a walk and advanced to second when Parker Starr was hit by a pitch. Larsen doubled to left in the next at-bat to score Robinson from second. A couple of batters later, Brennon Lund increased his hitting streak to 11 games with a single to right that scored Starr, but Larsen was thrown out at home to end the inning.
The Pilots (7-26, 2-10) added their second run in the fifth on a double from DH Cooper Hummel, but BYU responded with a run of its own in the bottom half of the inning. Hayden Nielsen singled to lead off and moved from first to third on a wild pitch. Tanner Chauncey lined out to right in the next at-bat but scored Nielsen as he tagged up and slid around the tag at home.
BYU added three insurance runs in the seventh and one in the eighth to round out its scoring. In the seventh, Starr singled to score Robinson from second, then came home himself when Lund drew a walk. Nielsen hit a sharp grounder to third that plated Larsen to finish the scoring in the inning. Starr added the last run for the Cougars in the ninth when his sac fly to center scored pinch runner Paxton Larson.
BYU’s starting pitcher, Brandon Kinser, battled sickness that limited him to two innings, but he gave up only one run and two hits while striking out two. Relievers Keaton Cenatiempo and Michael Rucker combined to give up only two runs through seven innings to close the game. Cenatiempo gave up one run and struck out three through three innings, and Rucker gave up a run while striking out two through four innings.
“I found out about [Kinser’s] illness 15 minutes before game time,” Littlewood said. “He did a great job battling and grinding out some outs for us.”
Larsen finished the game 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs, while Starr and Lund each contributed two RBIs. Robinson recorded two hits and two runs for the Cougars. As a team, BYU recorded 14 hits offensively and played a clean game defensively with no errors and only allowing two walks.
“Winning the series keeps us in the driver’s seat,” Littlewood said. “If we can keep winning series, we will be in a good spot.”
BYU is back in action Tuesday when it hosts Utah Valley University at 6 p.m. MDT. The game will be broadcast on BYUtv and can be heard on BYU Radio — Sirius XM 143.