Despite outhitting Loyola Marymount, 12-8, No. 23 BYU dropped the second of a three-game set to the Lions, 10-5, on Friday afternoon at Miller Park.
"We started off poorly with our pitching performance. We gave up 10 free bases with walks, hit batsmen and errors," BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said. "You just aren't going to win like that. LMU is a good team. They will probably make an appearance in the tournament. We'll need a good outing from Connor (Williams) Saturday."
With the loss, BYU falls to 19-3 overall, 3-2 in the West Coast Conference. The Cougars failed to capitalize on an opportunity to keep pace at the top of the conference. LMU improves to 10-13, 3-2 in WCC play.
Colton Shaver led the BYU hitters in the game going 2-for-3 with a two-run homer and his first career triple in a BYU uniform. It was Shaver's 19th career homer. Tanner Chauncey went 3-for-5 at the plate with a double, and Brennon Anderson put in a 2-for-4 day.
Four different pitchers toed the rubber in the game. Maverik Buffo had a tough outing before getting pulled in the second frame. Jordan Wood, Riley Gates and Keaton Cenatiempo all made relief appearances. Cenatiempo went 3 1/3 innings to close and didn’t allow a run on only two hits.
BYU starter Buffo gave up three-consecutive walks with one out in the second inning to load the bases. He then plunked Seaver Whalen to give the Lions a 1-0 lead. Spencer Erdman drove in another run on a fielder’s choice. Buffo walked LMU’s Austin Miller to load the bases again. That was it for Buffo who went 1 2/3 innings giving up four runs, one hit and four walks. BYU reliever Wood gave up a two-run single to the first batter he faced to extend the LMU lead to 4-0 at the end of the top half of the second inning.
The Cougars quickly got back in the game in the bottom of the second. With nobody out, Shaver was hit by a pitch and Anderson dropped a perfect bunt down the third base line to reach on an infield single. Nate Favero got BYU on the board with a no-out RBI single to left field. Keaton Kringlen followed suit on the very next pitch with another RBI single to left to cut the lead to 4-2 with still nobody out in the inning. Hayden Nielsen drove in another run with a two-out RBI single to bring the Cougars within one run, 4-3.
In the top of the third, Sean Watkins hit an opposite field two-run home run with two outs to put the Lions ahead 6-3.
Chauncey smashed a leadoff double to left center to get things started in the bottom of the fifth inning. Shaver brought him home two batters later on a two-run homer to left-center field to cut the lead to 6-5. It was Shaver’s team-leading sixth long ball of the season.
BYU ran into more trouble in the top of the sixth. Wood hit Watkins with a pitch and Whalen hit a line drive double off the base of the left field wall to put men in scoring position. Gates relieved Wood with two outs in the inning, and he walked the first man he faced to load the bases. With the count even at two, Gates threw a wild pitch to the next hitter. One Lion player crossed home plate to push the score to 7-5. Cenatiempo was the third BYU pitcher in the inning, and he gave up a two-run single to the first batter he faced. The hit brought the score to 9-5 in favor of the Lions. Another LMU run scored when Bronson Larsen threw down to second base in an attempt to catch a base stealer. The 10th Lion run of the game scored during the ensuing rundown.
The Cougars are back in action at Miller Park on Saturday at 1 p.m., for the rubber match of the three-game series with the Lions. Fans can follow the game live on BYU's website and ESPN Radio 960 AM.
Blake Dorton is a BYU student studying broadcast journalism and French. He hopes to pursue a career in sports broadcasting after graduation. You can follow him on Twitter @BlakeDorton.