Ralph R. Zobell | Posted: 23 Apr 2000 | Updated: 28 Apr 2011

Noon-Game Rivalries Start Thursday in SLC

Need anything more be said than its BYU-Utah again, starting their final three-game baseball series this Thursday at noon in Salt Lake City.

The Cougars, 24-21 overall and 12-9 in the Mountain West Conference, are now in third place and one game out of second. Utah, 19-25 and in fourth place at 9-12, hosts the games at Franklin Covey Field on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

BYU's probable pitching rotation will be Jeff Stone (8-4, 5.94) on Thursday, Micah Mangrum (6-6, 4.15) on Friday and Jordan Opdahl (3-0, 3.92) on Saturday.

"Utah has been playing well and I'm sure they will want to avenge the sweep we had earlier in Provo, so we need to be ready for all three games," said BYU Coach Vance Law. "We hope to finish our final nine games of the regular season in good fashion. We've got some good athletes who have worked hard to improve. I am proud of our team the way they battled back hard in rough conditions last weekend at Air Force. Aaron Whitley is day-to-day with a strained back."

The Cougars snapped a five-game losing streak by winning the first two games at Air Force, then lost a heart-breaker, 15-14, in the finale after being ahead 14-12 with two outs in the ninth.

BYU has a 172-76-1 lead over Utah in the series. The Utes hold a 13-10 lead in recent meetings at the AAA field in Salt Lake City. Last month BYU swept Utah, 3-0, for the first time since 1995 when it also happened in Provo.

Utah won one of five games last year, an 11-9 victory to start the three game series in Provo during the final week of last season (the two tilts in Salt Lake City were non-conference games). In 1997, a crowd of 4,435 saw an 11-9 BYU victory (the 12th-largest Cougar crowd). As a BYU player, Law had an 18-4 record against Utah.

If the MWC standings remained as they are this week, then BYU and Utah could square off again as the third and fourth seeds in the conference tournament next month at Las Vegas.

Among the Cougar leaders are All-America candidate Nick Day, who has hit over .400 in 20 games this season and leads the team in runs scored. Day, the Stanford transfer, has gone hitless in only seven of 37 games this season, including the opener against Utah.

Orem's Shane Belliston currently leads BYU with a 10-game hitting streak. Fellow outfielder Matt Carson remains the team leader with a .390 batting average and tied a school record last weekend when he was hit by a pitch for the 12th time this season. Carson is leading the MWC in slugging percentage for league games at .750 and in batting at .461. BYU leads the MWC with a .333 overall batting average and has the best team earned run average at 4.93 in league play.

All of the games this week will be broadcast live over KSRR Radio (1400 AM) locally, with Brent Norton calling the play-by-play in his 10th season.

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