The thing I like about it is guys don’t feel real tense about it. Top 25 doesn’t matter and that wasn’t even one of our goals. We wanted to get off to a good start and obviously we’ve gotten off to a good start. That gives us the potential to have a high RPI, to be ranked high and to go into our league with a lot of confidence. —BYU coach Mike Littlewood
PROVO — BYU baseball continued its winning ways Tuesday, slugging past Utah 6-0 under wintry conditions. The Cougars used eight pitchers and a big fifth inning to propel themselves to an impressive shutout victory.
The Cougars held a 2-0 lead entering the fifth inning, but a walk and a single to start the top half of the inning provided potential trouble. At that point, BYU coach Mike Littlewood made another call to the bullpen, specifically to junior Keaton Cenatiempo to pitch his team out of the jam.
Cenatiempo responded by logging three straight outs to hold BYU's early momentum and to set up a big bottom half of the fifth.
Tanner Chauncey got things started for the Cougars in the bottom of the fifth with a one-out double before Eric Urry followed it up with an RBI of his own to score Chauncey from second. Sophomore slugger Colton Shaver then topped things off with a bomb over the left-field fence for a two-run homer to give the Cougars a commanding 5-0 lead.
“I think that was the biggest inning of the game,” Littlewood said of the crucial fifth.
As for Shaver, the homer proved his only hit of the game as he struggled a bit with his approach from the plate otherwise, according to Littlewood.
“But that’s his potential — to get that one pitch and hit it a long way,” Littlewood said of Shaver, who now has seven home runs in four games against the Utes over the last two seasons.
The Cougars added a run in the top of the eighth to push their lead to 6-0, which proved to be the final.
As for Littlewood's use of eight pitchers, it was part of the plan.
“The thing we want to do is get our starters rested and to give our pen some work,” Littlewood explained. “You saw that we were successful when we threw strikes. The only inning where we got into a jam is where we didn’t throw strikes. So I’m proud of my guys — all my guys that came in and did a great job.”
BYU's Mason Marshall, who allowed two hits, held the Utes scoreless in the top of the ninth to close things out.
Utah's Ellis Kelly led all batters with three hits.
With the win, BYU improves to 16-1 while Utah drops to 4-11. It's the type of start Littlewood wasn't expecting at the start of the season, but will take nonetheless.
“No, you never see 16-1,” Littlewood said when asked if he was expecting this type of start to the year. “The thing I like about it is guys don’t feel real tense about it. Top 25 doesn’t matter and that wasn’t even one of our goals. We wanted to get off to a good start and obviously we’ve gotten off to a good start. That gives us the potential to have a high RPI, to be ranked high and to go into our league with a lot of confidence.”
BYU begins West Coast Conference play Thursday hosting Pacific at Miller Park. Next up for the Utes is a trip Friday to take on Oregon.
Email: [email protected]