For the first time this season, BYU baseball reached the .500 mark after a 4-2 victory over Loyola Marymount University on Friday night.

BYU (17-17, 8-6 West Coast Conference) got great pitching from starter Brandon Kinser and reliever Michael Rucker to defeat the Lions (20-15, 8-6).

Kinser nearly threw a complete game with 8.1 innings to get his second win of the week and improve to 4-2. Rucker also got his second save in the LMU series, his fifth of the season.

“Brandon was awesome tonight,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “He commanded all four pitches and was a bulldog out there.

“It's nice to know we have a guy like Mike Rucker on our side who can come in and close the door in any situation.”

Kinser agreed with Littlewood about Rucker and said BYU is getting hot when it needs to.

“Getting that first pitch strike was big for me today,” Kinser said. “I felt comfortable with my location, the mound felt like it was 20 feet away from home plate and I could put it where I wanted.

“He’s (Rucker) dynamite. We are getting hot at the right time.”

Offensively, the difference in the game turned out to be a bases loaded walk by Derrick Whitney in the sixth inning, which scored Colton Shaver with two out for a 3-1 BYU lead.

The Cougars led the entire game, taking a 1-0 lead in the third when Whitney scored on Hayden Nielsen’s sacrifice fly. The margin increased to 2-0 in the fourth when Colton Shaver led off with a double and came home on Cole Wilstead’s double.

Tanner Chauncey scored an insurance run in the seventh, sliding safe at home when Shaver belted his second double of the game.

“Our hitters did a nice job picking up the slack knowing Dillon (Robinson) was out of the lineup,” Littlewood said. “We put together solid at-bats one through nine and put continuous pressure on them.”

LMU hosts the Cougars in the finale of the three-game series on Saturday at 2 p.m. PDT.

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].