No. 19 San Diego remained atop the West Coast Conference on Thursday night as it fought off second-place BYU baseball for a 6-3 victory.
The Toreros (27-9 overall and 13-3 WCC) maintained their jinx over BYU (20-14 and 9-4), which is winless against USD in nine tries at San Diego dating back to 1979.
In the ninth inning, Cougar Colton Shaver hit a 370-foot-plus three-run home run to left-center for his eighth dinger of the season to offset five scoreless singles. Keaton Kringlen led off the ninth with BYU’s sixth single, which ended up being BYU’s first run of the night via Shaver’s smash.
"(Nick) Sprengel threw well tonight. He was 92-95 and located all three pitches, that was ultimately the difference in the game," BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. "Kendall (Motes) did a good job out of the pen and showed us if we change speeds in the strike zone we can be successful against these hitters."
The Cougars got back-to-back two-out singles in the third inning from David Clawson and Brennon Anderson to left and right fields, respectively. The pair was stranded when Tanner Chauncey flew out. Chauncey’s 12-game hitting streak came to an end against USD.
San Diego got a 1-0 lead in the first inning, then added four more runs in the third for a 5-0 margin.
When Clawson threw out a Torero attempting to steal second in the fourth, followed by reliever Kendall Motes ending the inning a pitch later with a called strikeout, it was a chance to mount some momentum, but the Cougars were put down in order for the fourth time in five innings.
In the fifth, Motes fanned the side in order for three of his six strikeouts in 3.2 innings of relief.
The Cougars drew their first base on balls of the game in the seventh inning by Bronson Larsen, who advanced to second on Shaver’s single, but the duo was stranded when San Diegan Kyle Dean flew out to center field.
A two-hit rally came in the eighth frame when pinch-hitter Noah Hill singled prior to the return of Brock Hale for the first time in eight games. Hale’s pinch-hit return failed, but Anderson advanced Hill to second on his second single of the game. For the third time of the night Cougars were left on base without a run.
"I was actually pleased with our approach at the plate. We hit a lot of balls right at them and hopefully tomorrow they'll find some grass," Littlewood said.
The two teams play the second of three games on Friday at 6 p.m. PDT.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.