A new field lived up to its billing, but BYU baseball's 2018 season fell short of projections in a year that had some highlights.
The Cougars finished the season with a 22-28 overall record, 11-16 record in the West Coast Conference and a 12-9 record at home. Weather, a concern in previous years, did not interrupt this season because of the new artificial field that saved four days of practice.
"This was just a really strange year to say the least,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “When we pitched well we didn’t hit, and when we scored a lot of runs we didn’t pitch so great. This season was obviously a disappointment to many Cougar fans, but no more disappointing than to those players and coaches in our program.”
Among the highlights from the 2018 season was BYU winning the series against WCC tournament teams Gonzaga at home and at San Francisco on the final road trip. The Cougars swept Santa Clara, which led the league early in the season.
Attendance was the third-best in the history of Miller Park at 34,226 for an average of 1,711 fans. Thirteen of BYU’s last 20 games were played away, resulting in a 5-15 record, with nine of those losses coming on the road, including one at No. 3 Stanford.
Juniors Brock Hale and Jordan Wood were named to the All-WCC First Team. Wood was also named to the All-Academic First Team, while Hale was an honorable mention for that honor.
Hale and senior Nate Favero received Rawlings WCC Player of the Week honors. After a slow start, Hale was the steady hitter in BYU’s lineup, raising his batting average from .194 to .343 after batting .408 for the month of March. Hale led the WCC in batting average, slugging, on-base percentage and hits for much of the season, and he led BYU as well in home runs, doubles, RBIs and on-base percentage.
Wood was BYU’s game one pitcher throughout the season and finished with the best record (5-4) and earned run average (2.66) among the starters. Wood also led the Cougars with 94.2 innings pitched and 63 strikeouts in 14 starts.
BYU had a 6-10 record in one-run games. Wood was the victim in four of those one-run losses, including a 4-3 decision at No. 18 Auburn against Casey Mize, the No. 1 selection in the 2018 Major League Draft.
Freshman reliever Drew Zimmerman was named to the Freshmen All-America team by Collegiate Baseball magazine. He posted five saves and a 2.40 earned run average with 40 strikeouts and 18 walks in 45 innings.
Junior Daniel Schneemann and sophomore David Clawson were selected in the Major League Draft. Schneemann was taken in the 33rd round by the Cleveland Indians and continued to be impressive at shortstop with the No. 4 play on ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 against Santa Clara, and he led the team with seven game-winning RBIs.
Clawson, a catcher who threw out 15-of-24 runners attempting to steal, was selected in the 37th round by the Los Angeles Angels.
Joining Favero as departing seniors, each of whom completed their academic degrees, are fellow infielder Brennon Anderson and pitchers Kendall Motes, Rhett Parkinson and Hayden Rogers.
Anderson started 187 games in his four-year career as the first recruit of Littlewood and was a 2018 Preseason All-America Third Team selection by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Parkinson made 42 appearances in two years for the Cougars with an earned run average less than 2.00 for the first several weeks of the 2018 season. Rogers posted a career 21-15 record in 78 appearances, including 43 starts and one save.1 comment on this story
Injuries hampered the Cougars, particularly with pitchers Riley Gates and Ryan Brady not able to return to action after the first couple of weeks of the season.
“It’s tough to see the seniors go because after four years, or six years at BYU in some cases, those guys feel like your own kids and part of your own family,” Littlewood said.
“Having a tough year like this makes you realize how special the 2017 season was, and everyone in our program is gearing up for September 4th when we are able to get back on the field and get going again.”