He was dialed in when he got here and that was key for us. —Utah coach Bill Kinneberg on Chandler Anderson
PROVO — The last time Utah outfielder Chandler Anderson played a game at Miller Field, a little more than a month ago, it wasn’t a pleasant experience.
Anderson injured his shoulder and saw his team lose by one run to BYU in the 10th inning.
But Tuesday night was a much different story.
The junior from Park City went 3 for 5, scored two runs and had one RBI in the Utes’ 8-4 victory over the Cougars.
It happened before a crowd of 2,605 — the largest crowd to watch a game at Miller Field this season and the ninth-largest crowd for a home game in BYU baseball history.
“We were a huge buzz kill for the ninth-largest crowd,” said Cougar coach Mike Littlewood.
For Anderson, it was sweet redemption. He was chasing down a fly ball in last month’s game when he crashed into the left-field wall and hurt his shoulder, forcing him to miss 11 consecutive games.
“That wall won last time we came down here to Provo. But it was fun being back on the field and playing in this in-state (rivalry),” Anderson said. “I expect to have a big game every day. I had my old Park City coaches and family here today. It was fun to have a good game in front of them.”
“He was dialed in when he got here and that was key for us,” Utah coach Bill Kinneberg said of Anderson. “He had a good day, a good outing. He’s been injured and he’s getting back into it. Maybe this was a key game for him.”
The game was tied at 2-2 going into the decisive fifth inning. That’s when the Utes took control, scoring six runs on seven hits, including four doubles.
With one out, Utah recorded back-to-back doubles by Rykker Tom and Erick Migueles. Later in the frame, Matt Richardson’s double plated Braden DeBenedictis and Dominic Foscalina to give Utah a 6-2 advantage.
But the Utes weren’t finished.
A double by DaShawn Keirsey Jr. scored Richardson, and Anderson’s RBI single capped the scoring for Utah. By the time the inning was over, the Utes had a comfortable 8-2 lead.
“That was big for us. Those were big hits for us, naturally,” Kinneberg said. “It’s something we haven’t been doing that a lot of people have been doing against us — having big innings. That was nice for us to see.”
“We got the momentum on our side after a good inning on the mound,” Anderson said. “Hitting’s contagious.”
BYU used eight pitchers Tuesday, including Rhett Parkinson, who surrendered four hits and five earned runs to the Utes.
“They hit a lot of balls hard that were in the gaps and off the walls. That’s what hurt us ultimately in that fifth inning,” Littlewood said. “I tip my hat to those guys because when Rhett Parkinson got the ball up in the zone, they hit him hard. They earned it. I don’t feel like we gave this game away. I feel like they just beat us tonight.”
With the win, Utah improved to 10-28 overall while BYU dropped to 18-17.
The Utes’ victory snapped a six-game losing streak.
“That’s big for us. Tuesday games are hard for anybody. We used a lot of pitchers,” Kinneberg said. “It was a good team win today and that’s something we needed. We hadn’t played well the last two weekends. Hopefully that will get us going.”
Littlewood was appreciative of the big crowd Tuesday, but he was disappointed in the outcome.
“It’s nice to have a big crowd but it’s more important to win games,” he said. “If there’s one person in the crowd or 2,600, it’s disappointing to send (the crowd) away like that.”
Earlier this season, BYU won 7-6 in Provo while Utah won 4-3 in Salt Lake City. The Cougars and Utes will meet for the fourth and final time this season May 8 at Smith’s Ballpark.
BYU returns to West Coast Conference play this weekend when it hosts three games against San Diego. Utah will entertain Arizona this weekend in Pac-12 play.