He gave me what I wanted and I took advantage of it. —Utah's Chandler Anderson on his grand slam
SALT LAKE CITY — One pitch. That’s pretty much all it took to decide Tuesday’s game between Utah and BYU at Smith’s Ballpark. Chandler Anderson belted a grand slam on the first throw he saw from reliever Alex Perron in the third inning to power the Utes to a 6-3 victory over the Cougars.
“One pitch was all,” Anderson said of the fastball. “He gave me what I wanted and I took advantage of it.”
“A tremendously big hit for us and we held on,” Utah coach Bill Kinneberg said. “I think our pitchers did a pretty good job today.”
Riley Pierce, Spencer Kevin Johnson, Kyle Robeniol, Jacob Rebar and Trenton Stoltz combined to keep BYU in check. Johnson was especially effective with a career-high eight strikeouts.
“The difference in that game was them getting a big hit and us not,” said BYU coach Mike Littlewood, who added the Cougars had opportunities. They left 12 runners on base.
Anderson’s blast followed a bases-loaded walk that teammate Oliver Dunn drew. It scored Shea Kramer, who reached with a double and advanced to third on a wild pitch.
BYU took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third when Brock Hale scored on a Utah fielding error. Hale had a two-out single before stealing second and making it the rest of the way on miscues by the Utes.
The Cougars scored their second run in the top of the fourth on an RBI triple with two outs.
Leading 5-2, the Utes added a score in the bottom of the sixth. Dominic Foscalina led off with a double and later made it home on a sacrifice fly by Kramer.
BYU wound up capping all scoring in the contest. A run-scoring single by Nate Favero with two outs in the ninth finished things off.
Utah won three of the four games against BYU this season. However, three were decided on the last at-bat.
“That game was kind of a microcosm of our season, right there — just an inability to get the big hit and (giving) too many gifts, you know, on the bases and (seeing) another team get a big hit,” Littlewood said.
Although the game was played at the same time as the NBA playoff game between the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets, a crowd of 3,466 enjoyed the summer-like conditions at the ballpark.
“It’s the in-state rivalry. It really gets the blood flowing,” said Anderson, who acknowledged he wanted to put on a show. “I felt like I was playing in front of half of Utah today with the large crowd here.”
Both teams have conference games later in the week. BYU (19-24) opens a three-game WCC series at San Francisco on Thursday, while Utah (13-32) heads to Oregon for three Pac-12 outings beginning Friday.