Brian Hsu turned a key double play and knocked a solo home run Thursday for a 5-3 victory in BYU baseball’s season opener over CSUN.
The first baseman scored a pair of runs and got help from Cougar batters Nate Favero, Keaton Kringlen, Brock Hale, Brennon Anderson and pitchers Jordan Wood, Jake Suddreth and Riley Gates.
“This was truly a team win,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “We used 16 guys and every one of them was ready to play.
“Jordan gave us a great start today. He had a nice three-pitch mix and worked ahead for the most part. I loved his competitiveness today. It was nice to get production out of the bottom of our lineup.”
Hsu, who batted eighth in the order, doubled in the fifth and singled in the seventh before his dinger in the ninth, but it was his defensive gem in the sixth that may have turned the tide.
With one out and CSUN runners at second and third, it looked like BYU’s 3-1 lead was in jeopardy after a dropped fly ball in left field. Then the Matadors ran themselves out of the inning after Wood fielded a slow grounder. The Cougar starting pitcher made a high toss to first, which was snatched by the leaping Hsu. The junior touched the bag, then fired to second to turn a double play as the CSUN runner was returning to second.
Earlier in the game, consecutive doubles by Kringlen and Hale led off the fourth to tie the game, 1-1. Kyle Dean then hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Hale for a 2-1 lead.
After CSUN doubled to the wall, Wood got out of a jam when he struck out his fourth Matador in as many innings.
Anderson got his second hit of the day with a one-out RBI single to plate Hsu who led off the fifth with a double to the left-field corner for a 3-1 lead.
Wood appeared to be in line for his seventh-consecutive win dating back to his freshman year, when Bo Burrup relieved him in the seventh.
After giving up consecutive singles, Burrup worked the first of five full counts to his advantage with two runners on for a swinging strikeout. Burrup recorded another strikeout, but then surrendered three walks and a pair of runs.
A two-out, two-strike RBI single by Favero to left field in the eighth frame proved to be the game-winning RBI as Hale scored from second for a 4-3 lead. Hale had gotten aboard on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second when CSUN failed to complete a double play and overthrew first base following Daniel Schneemann’s hard slide into second.
Suddreth, a JC transfer who had come in relief in the seventh and ended up the winning pitcher, struck out the leadoff batter in the eighth, then got friendly help from Schneemann who turned an inning-ending double play.
Hsu smacked a 1-1 pitch over the left field fence in the ninth for the 5-3 lead. Then, Gates earned his fourth career save when he struck out a CSUN pair before the game-ending corner groundout from Favero at third to Hsu.
“Brian (Hsu) came up big for us in the ninth,” Littlewood said. “I was really proud of our effort overall. It was a good win against a good team on their home field.”
The two teams play a Saturday doubleheader in the four-game series starting at 10:30 a.m. PST.