Rucker seals BYU Baseball victory over Pepperdine
PROVO, Utah – Tanner Chauncey’s bad-hop single past Pepperdine shortstop Manny Jefferson broke a 3-3 tie and the BYU baseball team cruised to a 5-3 victory Friday night at Miller Park.
"I can't say enough about our guys and how they came back tonight and battled and were resilient," BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. "That's been our team this whole year, we have played in games like this that were close and we just couldn't get the big hit and now that we've started doing that, it is resulting in wins for us."
Going in to the seventh inning the game was tied 3-3 when BYU's Derrick Whitney started with a single to left field. Hayden Nielsen bunted and a throwing error from Pepperdine allowed Nielsen to get on base while advancing Whitney to third. Chauncey’s single then scored the winning run.
The Waves (9-10, 1-1) grabbed an early lead in the third inning when Manny Jefferson crushed a homerl to left-center that dropped well beyond the outfield wall.
The Cougars (8-11, 1-1) answered in the fourth when Colton Shaver’s line drive to shallow center scored Nielsen from second. A few batters later Bronson Larsen’s infield grounder scored Dillon Robinson from third.
BYU built a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning off Parker Starr’s bunt that trickled down the left field line with the ball stopping between third base and home plate and scored Robinson from third.
Pepperdine answered in the seventh scoring two runs with Jefferson accounting for another run, but the Wave lead was short lived as Chauncey and the Cougars responded in the bottom of the inning.
BYU added one more one run in the eighth when Eric Urry scored from third off of Witney's fielder's choice with the bases loaded.
Keaton Cenatiempo (2-1) took the win for the Cougars throwing 1.1 innings with two strikeouts. Jeff Barker threw 113 pitches over 6.2 innings giving up six hits, three runs, while striking out four batters. Michael Rucker recorded his second save, retiring the final three batters in the ninth, catching the tail-end of a 3-6-1 double play to seal the victory to the delight most of the 1,357 fans in attendance.
"Jeff (Barker) mixes speeds so well and relies a lot on his off-speed stuff," Littlewood sad. "Sometimes that makes him get behind and he will walk a couple guys, but he seems to always work out of it. I'm proud of the way he pitched tonight and how he really has all year."
The Cougars first victory in the West Coast Conference avenges Thursday's 11-3 loss to the Waves which ended a five-game win streak.
BYU will play Pepperdine again at Larry H. Miller Field Saturday at 1 p.m. MDT. The game will be broadcast on BYUtv and can be heard on KOVO 960 AM and BYU Sports Radio – Sirius XM 143.
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