Key pitching and home runs, including a grand slam, lifted undefeated BYU to a 7-1 victory over Samford University on Thursday.
Brennon Anderson belted a 2-1 fastball barely over the left field wall for a grand slam in the fourth to give BYU, 5-0, a 4-1 lead over previously unbeaten Bulldogs, now 4-1.
The undefeated start by BYU baseball ties previous 5-0 seasons by the Cougars in 1998, 1988 and 1984.
Junior right-hander Mike Rucker struck out a Bulldog batter in each of his seven innings, throwing 98 pitches and surrendering four hits to earn his second victory of the season. Rucker and freshman reliever Bo Burrup, a lefty, retired the side in order in the final three innings.
The Mississippi-born Rucker had more friends than his brother-in-law visiting the game as he closed the fourth inning with a 6-4-3 double play.
“Mike threw a gem today,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “He was sharp with all three pitches and as always brought that ‘bulldog’ mentality."
In Thursday’s opener of the four-game series, a leadoff double by Brennon Lund in the first inning extended his current hitting streak to six games.
That was the lone hit for the Cougars until they capitalized on Samford miscues, the first of which came in the fourth frame. In that inning Bronson Larsen got aboard on a two-out error, followed by consecutive walks by Colton Shaver and Eric Urry, all of whom were plated by Anderson’s slam.
“Our offense did a nice job being patient until that error opened the door for us,” Littlewood said. “We capitalized on that by putting together two more good at-bats by Urry and Shaver and the B (Brennon Anderson) put an exclamation point on the inning with the grand slam.”
Sophomore Nate Favero led off the three-run seventh with a solo homer, swatting a 2-2 fastball over the right field fence. That inning produced five hits as BYU left the bases loaded, the last of which was a single by Tanner Chauncey, who scored the third run and extended his hitting streak to 16 games.
“That's the beauty of our lineup—every guy will grind out at-bats until we see an opening,” Littlewood said. “Today our seven and nine hitters had home runs for us so that's nice to see. Nate hit that ball (seventh) right into the teeth of a 25-mph wind.
“Brennon (Lund) continues to spark the offense and did a great job running bases today.”
Lund scored BYU’s second run of the seventh on a wild pitch after he stole second and third bases on consecutive plays.
Samford took the initial lead in the third inning, 1-0.
The two teams play a doubleheader Friday afternoon in games that can be followed through live stat and live audio links on BYU's athletic website.