With a game-winning RBI from Gordy Bravo in the 12th inning, BYU softball topped San Diego, 1-0, to win the 2016 West Coast Conference title on Friday night.
"That was an incredibly well-played game by both teams in terms of pitching and defense," BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. "Their pitcher did an excellent job against our hitters, but we hung in there and toughed it out. McKenna (Bull) threw her heart out and our defense played great until we found a way to score. I'm really proud of our kids, and we will really cherish another conference championship."
With this win, BYU (34-18, 11-2 WCC) has clinched the WCC title for the third year in a row, winning its eighth-straight conference championship. San Diego (21-28, 7-6 WCC) is now in a race for second with Loyola Marymount.
In the top of the 12th, Caitlyn Larsen walked and advanced to second off a sacrifice bunt from Bond. Madison Merrell’s fly out in right field gave Larsen enough time to sprint to third. Bravo hit an infield single to bring in Larsen for the first run of the game and the lead.
The 12-inning victory also marks the longest game in BYU history since a 6-5 loss to Colorado State in 16 innings in 2002. The last extra-innings game the Cougars won was a 5-4 win in nine innings against Wisconsin in the first tournament earlier this season.
In her 200th career start, Bravo went 3-for-6 with the game-winning RBI in the 12th inning. McKenna Bull pitched all 12 innings from the circle, tied for second-most pitched in a single game in BYU history. She threw 10 strikeouts with three walks in the win, increasing her record to 26-11.
The Cougars were retired in order in the top of the first, but they returned the favor with the Toreros going three up, three down after one.
Emilee Erickson got the first hit of the game off a double down the right-field line in the top of the second, but a strikeout ended the potential run for BYU. San Diego got two runners on in the bottom of the second, but two strikeouts from Bull helped keep the game tied 0-0.
San Diego’s pitcher Megan Sabbatini walked Coco Tauali’i Bond in the top of the fifth, but she and her team took down the next three batters. Bull returned the favor, striking out two of the three outs to end the inning with a scoreless contest after five.
Off the first pitch of the sixth inning, Lauren Bell singled to right field. A sacrifice bunt from Ashley Thompson advanced Bell to second base. After Libby Sugg was intentionally walked, San Diego got the next two batters out, ending the rally. BYU took down the first three batters of the sixth to close out the inning, keeping the game scoreless.
The Toreros retired the Cougars in order in the top of the seventh. San Diego then got a runner on first. But after two strikeouts, Sugg and Bell caught the runner stealing to force the game into extra innings.
After the Cougars went three up, three down in the top of the eighth, the Toreros led off with a single in the bottom. Bull got the final batter in the eighth to foul out with a full count and bases loaded.
The next three innings saw each team reaching base a couple of times, but neither squad made a real threat to score.
Following Bravo's RBI single for the first run of the game, San Diego did not roll over. The Toreros advanced runners to second and third in the bottom of the 12th. But with two outs, Bond threw the batter out at first to clinch the 1-0 win and the WCC title.
The two teams face off again Saturday in a doubleheader beginning at 12 p.m. PDT. Live stats are available on the BYU softball schedule page.