Playing in only its second game in Utah over the past three weeks, the Wolverines found their visit to Provo’s Miller Park unsatisfying.
The Wolverines failed to score a run and managed only six hits in an 8-0 defeat versus the Cougars. BYU scored four runs in both the fifth and seventh innings, collecting twelve hits, five of which went for extra bases. Starting pitcher Mark Anderson threw 123 pitches for the Cougars over 8.2 innings, striking out four en route to the victory.
UVU countered with starting pitcher Devin Nelson, who was cruising through four innings having allowed just two hits, but was relieved in the bottom of the fifth after giving up a leadoff double. Jeff Barto entered for Nelson and struggled immediately. Barto hit the first batter he faced in the back. After a sacrifice bunt moved the BYU runners to second and third, the scoreless tie was broken as UVU right fielder Riley White corralled a deep fly ball in foul territory that plated the runner from third. BYU’s next batter doubled to the gap, the ball sailing just out of the reach of a diving Jordy Hart in center field to make it 2-0. BYU center fielder Marcus Hanneman then connected on a two-run bomb to extend the Cougar’s advantage to four.
The Wolverines appeared motivated to prove that they can compete amongst Utah’s best collegiate baseball teams but were unable to demonstrate any supporting evidence in this season’s visit to the home of the Cougars.
In this year’s battle to be Utah’s best, UVU has been defeated by its northern rivals, the Utah Utes, and now its southern neighbors in Provo. Head Coach Eric Madsen has described in-state contests as “emotional baseball games,” which accurately defines how the game was played in Provo.
“It’s just great to play BYU for the community,” Madsen said. “Win or lose or however that goes, I think it just depends on how you play and how the game is played and just that opportunity to compete with teams in the state. No one wants to lose those games in-state, they mean a lot to everybody; these games are a big deal.”
BYU and UVU have now split the last four meetings, with the Cougars still holding an 8-5 advantage overall since the Wolverines began competing in Division I in 2007.
UVU will look to rebound in round two of the in-state battle, when it plays host to Utah on April 16. For now the Wolverines set their sights on NJIT and winning the Great West Conference one final time.
After the four-game series against NJIT, the Wolverines begin their second series of the year playing at Brent Brown Ballpark on Thursday Apr. 11 at 6:00 p.m.
By Kyle Spencer