Junior pitcher Michael Rucker remained unblemished as No. 29 BYU baseball defeated Pacific, 19-3, in the West Coast Conference opener on Thursday at Larry Miller Park.
“I love the mentality and athleticism of this team,” BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said. “A 17-1 record and being ranked doesn’t mean anything at this time of the season. It gives us the confidence to move forward and so we’ll just stay with the process and keep things rolling.“
Rucker allowed just four hits in six innings, striking out seven and picking up his fourth win on the year with a 2.67 ERA.
BYU (17-1, 1-0 WCC) scored in all but two innings while recording 18 hits as a team. The Cougars hit well with runners in scoring position, with 17 RBIs, including a pair of bases-clearing doubles by Colton Shaver and Brennon Anderson. BYU hitters had seven extra base hits off four different Pacific (6-11, 0-1) pitchers.
The Cougars jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Leading off for the Cougars, Brennon Lund singled before Hayden Nielsen hit a line drive that bounced to the right field wall for a triple, scoring Lund. Nielsen scored later in the inning on a sacrifice fly by Eric Urry.
Pacific responded in the second by putting two runners on base. The Cougar defense held strong with a 6-4-3 double play and Rucker struck out the final batter of the inning to get BYU out of a jam.
In the bottom half of the second, Anderson led off with a double to center. The next hitter, Brock Hale, reached on an error by the Tigers’ shortstop, scoring Anderson and giving the Cougars a 3-0 lead.
Nate Favero kept the offense going with a long double to right field, scoring Hale from second for the game-winning RBI. Lund hit a bloop single to score Favero, giving the Cougars three runs in the inning. A two out RBI by Tanner Chauncey scored Lund and extended the lead to six.
Shaver was hit by a pitch and advanced to third after a single by Anderson. Favero singled to score Shaver putting runners at the corners with only one out. Larsen singled to bring Anderson home. Favero scored on a single by Nielsen, and Pacific misfielded a grounder by Chauncey scored Larsen to make the score 10-0.
In the top of the fourth, the Cougars allowed their first run of the night off an infield single after putting runners on the corners. Pacific scored its second run after another single plated a runner from second narrowing the margin 10-2.
With the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the fifth, Shaver doubled to the left center gap scoring Chauncey, Lund and Urry. Anderson singled scoring Shaver to give BYU a 14-2 lead.
In the sixth, Lund doubled to right and scored after Chauncey singled to give BYU another run and a 15-2 lead.
Chauncey and Lund kept the offense going in the eighth when Lund reached second on an error and Chauncey doubled to right field to collect his third RBI of the evening.
BYU loaded the bases again after Noah Hill drew a walk, before Anderson cleared the bases with a double to left field for his fourth RBI, scoring BYU’s final runs to make the score 19-2.
Pacific scored one final run in the bottom of the ninth with a two out single, but Easton Walker held on to record his first save to cap off a stellar three inning performance.
BYU continues its three-game homenstand against Pacific on Friday at 6 p.m. MST. Due to BYU men's basketball there will be no TV broadcast of the BYU-Pacific baseball game. Friday's Tiger-Cougar rematch game can be heard on ESPN 960 AM and streamed on its website.