Cougar bait: Despite comeback, U loses first in three-game series with BYU

By and

The BYU baseball team flexed its muscles early in the first game of the series against the Utes with a nine-run second inning. The Utes didn’t back down and made a furious comeback, but fell just short losing the opening game 10-8.

“Utah showed some character and made a real game of it,” BYU coach Vance Law said. “It was in doubt till the last batter in the ball game.”Ute ace Jason Price got off to a very shaky start, giving up a run in the first inning and nine in the second. In the huge Cougar second inning, Brandon Taylor got the ball rolling with a leadoff double and the Cougars didn’t look back. Following base hit after base hit, the Cougars scored six runs and had the bases loaded for Taylor.

In his second at-bat of the inning,

Taylor

belted a grand slam to score the final four runs of the inning.

“We made mental mistakes [in the inning] and couldn’t make up for it,” U coach Bill Kinneberg said.

Price settled down after the inning but the damage was already done.

While Price was having a tough start to the game, BYU pitcher Dave Horlacher mowed through the Ute hitters. Horlacher had a no-hitter through five innings, which was finally broken by Ryder Olson in the sixth inning.

The Utes weren’t just satisfied with one hit. After a bean ball, which put runners on first and second, shortstop Ryan Khoury hit a ball to the gap, which scored the Utes’ first run of the game.

After Jay Brossman walked, second baseman Doug Beck hit a liner past the third baseman, which scored two more runs. Clayne Garrett hit a shot to deep center, but it fell at the warning track and Horlacher got out of the inning.

With Price pitching strong, the Ute offense kept chipping away at the Cougar lead. Right fielder Joe Mozeleksi led off the seventh inning with a homerun, narrowing the deficit to six runs.

The Cougar defense didn’t help Horlacher in the seventh, when Ute catcher Trevor Eastman hit a pop fly to left field. Left fielder Ben Saylor dropped the ball and Eastman ran to second base.

Following a hit by Olson, which put runners on the corners, Horlacher was pulled for Ryan Bingham. With nobody out and runners on the corners, Bingham took care of business and struck out three consecutive Ute hitters.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Utes hit three consecutive singles off Bingham and the reliever was pulled for James Platt.

With the bases loaded, Platt threw a pitch and the catcher couldn’t handle it. Brossman scored on the passed ball and then Eastman hit a single to score Garrett from third. Two more runs were scored in the inning and the Utes were only down two

runs headed into the

ninth inning.

Ute reliever Josh Cooper got through the top of the inning unscathed and the Utes had a solid chance to pull off the comeback in the bottom of the inning with two runners on base and just one out. Cougar reliever Joshua Barrett struck out Doug Beck and Cougar manager Vance Law decided to bring in Ryan Chambers to face Garrett in order to force a lefty-lefty matchup. Garret hit a sharp liner to second base and Kevin Sloan dropped the ball. Sloan picked up the ball and rifled it to first base to barely get Garrett out to close the game. “It’s disappointing because we worked our butts off to comeback,” Kinneberg said.

Price was the losing pitcher, but really did well after the terrible second inning. He finished with seven innings pitched and 10 earned runs.

“He had two of the worst innings of the season, but really kept us in it after that,” Kinneberg said.

Horlacher earned the win and Chambers got the save. At 6 p.m. tonight the Utes and Cougars will be back at Franklin Covey Field for the second game of the series and Kinneberg said he hopes the Utes can build off the comeback.

“We talked about it after the game and I hope we take [the comeback] to the first inning tomorrow,” Kinneberg said.

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