With one of the best home-opening crowds in history, BYU baseball (11-1) downed in-state rival Utah Valley University, 6-1, on Tuesday night at Larry H. Miller Field.

“There was a great crowd tonight,” BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said. “I would love to see 2,002 fans here when we play against Niagara. When you win, people want to see you.”

Fans came out by the bunches to support the Cougars, who are off to their best start in team history at 11-1, while UVU evened its record at 7-7. The support of those 2,002 fans was key in leading the Cougars to a big win.

Starting pitcher Maverik Buffo (3-0) got the win for the Cougars, who used seven different hurlers throughout the night. Lefty Riley Gates, who threw the ninth inning, led the pitchers with three strikeouts.

“Buffo got us off to a great start,” BYU head coach Littlewood said. “I liked what our bullpen did. (Danny) Beddes is the best pitcher we’ve seen this year.”

Hayden Nielsen led the Cougar offense, going 2-for-5 with two RBIs. Nielsen and Brennon Anderson both currently hold four-game hitting streaks to lead the team.

To start the game, Brennon Lund got on base with a walk. Lund stole second and then advanced to third on a wild pitch. After a walk, Lund scored on an RBI sac-fly to right from Eric Urry. Anderson stole second to advance, and then Colton Shaver advanced to second off an error from the right fielder to score Anderson and put the Cougars up 2-0.

After an up-down top of the fourth, Shaver singled to right center to start the bottom of the inning. Kyle Dean was hit by a pitch that put him on base and advanced Shaver to second. Then, UVU walked Larsen and loaded the Cougar bases, and Shaver scored when Lund was hit by a wild pitch, putting BYU up 3-0. Nielsen knocked a two-run RBI single to right field, scoring Bronson Larsen and Dean and bringing the score to 5-0. Anderson then hit an RBI single to right field to score Lund and round out the inning 6-0.

In the top of the seventh, with runners on the corners the Wolverines scored their only run of the night on a throwing error.

Gates, who came in to close out the game in the ninth, struck out the side on 10 pitches and gave the Cougars the win with the final score set at 6-1.

BYU takes on Utah Valley next in Orem on April 26, and then again at Miller Park in Provo on May 3. The Cougars will host a four-game home stand against Niagara starting this Thursday, March 10. Thursday’s game starts at 6 p.m. MST, and fans can follow the game live through links on BYU's athletic website, TheW.tv, BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143 and ESPN Radio 960 AM.​

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].