PROVO — With the game all knotted up at 1-1 with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, BYU's Jackson Cluff cleared the bases with a triple to right en route to leading the Cougars to a 5-1 victory over Utah Valley University on Tuesday night at Miller Park.
UVU drops to 2-9 on the season with the setback, while BYU improves to 8-3 with the victory.
"We gave away too many opportunities. We haven't struck out a lot as of late but seemed to struggle with that when we needed a hit tonight," head UVU coach Eric Madsen said. "Overall I thought that we did some good things, but we've got to figure out a way to stop giving up free bases as well as driving people in when we have the opportunity to.
"The guys are battling, but it's time to find a way to get to that next step and find a way to win."
In his first start on the mound in a UVU uniform, Matt Dalke did a nice job of pitching out of a first-inning jam to keep the game scoreless. After BYU quickly loaded the bases following a trio of consecutive singles, Dalke then drew a pop-up followed by an inning-ending double play off the bat of Keaton Kringlen to hold the Cougars off the scoreboard.
Still scoreless in the third, Utah Valley then got things going following back-to-back hits from Kade Poulsen and Jake Berry to take a 1-0 lead. After Poulsen led off the inning with a single to center and then advanced to second on a passed ball, he was then driven home thanks to an RBI single through the left side from Berry to give the Wolverines the early lead.
Utah Valley then loaded the bases and looked for more with two outs in the fourth inning after a two-out hit from Alexander Marco followed by a walk from and Pacen Hayes taking one for the team. Following a pitching change, BYU's Blake Inouye then managed to escape the jam by striking out Poulsen to leave the bases loaded.
The Cougars then responded by loading the bases with one away in the bottom of the fourth, but Utah Valley reliever Romeo Carrillo came on and struck out Danny Gelalich for the second out followed by drawing a groundball off the bat of Brian Hsu to escape the jam with the Wolverines still holding to a 1-0 advantage.
After UVU stranded a runner on third base in the top of the fifth, BYU countered by driving home a runner from third to tie the game at 1-1. Following a one-out triple from Cluff, Kringlen then drove him home with an RBI single to left to deadlock the score.
The game remained tied at 1-1 until the last of the eighth when BYU loaded the bases with two outs in the frame. BYU's Cluff then delivered the big blow with a bases clearing triple into the right field corner to give the Cougars a 4-1 lead. Cluff then scored when Kringlen reached on an error to make it 5-1.
In the ninth, the Wolverines got a two-out hit from Mick Madsen but it wasn't enough as BYU held on for the victory.
The Utah Valley pitching staff did a nice job on the night by allowing just one run into the eighth inning. Six pitchers combined to scatter 10 hits and give up just four earned runs (five total) while striking out five.
Hall led UVU at the plate in the ballgame by going 2-for-3 with a double walk, while Berry went 1-for-3 with a run batted in and Michael Beltran finished with a 1-for-4 with his third triple of the season. Cluff led the Cougars by going 2-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored.
UVU reliever Spenser Triplett (0-1) was tagged with the loss in the contest while BYU's Reid McLaughlin (3-0) was credited with the win.Comment on this story
The contest marked the first of two season meetings between the Wolverines and Cougars. The two will conclude the season series with a Tuesday, March 19 contest at UCCU Ballpark in Orem.
The Wolverines will now come home to open a 10-game homestand this weekend with a four-game series against Saint Mary's. As of now, the series is scheduled to start with a Friday doubleheader at 2 and 5 p.m., followed by a single game Saturday at 1 p.m. and the finale Sunday at noon. Game times can change, however, due to the weather this weekend so visit GoUVU.com for any updates.