Rematch With Utes Starts Tourney
For the 301st time BYU plays Utah in Tuesday's opening round of the 2008 Phillips 66 Mountain West Conference Baseball Tournament.
The fourth-seeded Cougars, now 22-34 overall, have played Utah, the foe it has contested the most, in recent years at Hawai`i, California, New Mexico, Nevada and now in Fort Worth, Texas. Both teams ended the season with identical 10-14 league records and split the four games played thus far this season.
Last weekend BYU took the final two of a three-game series in Salt Lake City, but the Utes, who are 23-26, won the non-conference game last March at Provo, 9-7. The Cougars rallied with three-big run innings for comeback victories in the last two games, with the 12-run eighth inning being the most dramatic after being behind 10-0 in the finale.
Fifth-seeded Utah did not pitch its projected Tuesday starter Brian Budrow (5-5, 3.68) last week in anticipation of the tournament. But when the three-game series started last week, it wasn't clear whether the two teams would lock horns this quickly in the tournament. BYU will counter with a repeat of Jake Wortham (4-5, 6.67), whom the Utes touched up for eight hits in their 5-3 victory last Thursday.
"We're hoping those wins will breed the confidence we need for the tournament," said BYU Coach Vance Law. "We are familiar with each other and it's tooth and nail all the time. "
Tuesday's game has no bearing on the Deseret First Duels all-sport supremacy trophy which BYU won last week, but bragging rights are always on the line.
KSRR Radio (1400 AM) will carry the live broadcast of Brent Norton with the play-by-play with game time at 7 p.m. CDT. The Mountain Network will televise all of the tournament games live and the championship game will be broadcast on both The Mtn. and the CBS College Sports Network.
The winner of the MWC Championship will earn an automatic bid to the 2008 NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Baseball Tournament Selection Show is scheduled for Monday, May 26 at 12:30 p.m., ET.
The Cougars have a 20-14 record in the MWC Tournament, including a 3-2 record against the Utes in that tourney. BYU has a 208-91-1 overall record against Utah in baseball. Law has a 39-14 record against the Utes in his eight years at the BYU helm. The rivalry first started on May 18, 1895 when the two team played the first ever intercollegiate game in Utah, ending in a 0-0 tie and a bench-clearing brawl.
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