WAC regular-season baseball champion BYU overcame a strong upset bid to earn a 6-5 victory over Wyoming on opening day of the conference tournament, Thursday.
The win put the the Cougars into Friday's winners' bracket against Hawaii at 7:30 p.m. Hawaii beat San Diego State 6-5 in Thursday's late game.If they beat Hawaii, the Cougars will vault into Saturday's championship round. A loss will mean an 11 p.m. Friday game against the winner of the San Diego State-Wyoming battle.
All BYU tournament games are aired on KSRR (AM-1400) in Provo.
"We were a little tight," said BYU Coach Gary Pullins. "We seem to need to feel comfortable before we can get things going."
He continued, "Lasting thorugh the first game is tremendous. We were lucky."
Although the Cougars, 46-10, came away with the win, it wasn't without trouble. BYU had to overcome three deficits before claiming the victory. None of BYU's wins over Wyoming have come easily this year. The Cougars won 7-6 and 12-11 over the Cowboys in Laramie, and lost 8-7 and 8-4.
Mike Switzer came on in relief of Darin Kracl in the seventh, throwing two hitless innings to gain the win.
Thursday's game was close throughout. Wyoming first made the scoreboard by tallying a run in the second inning. First baseman Sky Smeltzer doubled, moved to third on a ground-out and scored on Joe Gaffney's single.
The Cougars tied the score in the bottom of the inning by loading the bases and seeing Rick Afenir walk with the bases loaded.
In the same inning the Cougars took a 2-1 lead on Burt Call's sacrifice fly.
Smeltzer keyed another Wyoming uprising in the fourth with a leadoff triple. He scored on a double by Mike Thomas when the fly was lost in the sun by BYU outfielder Bruce Ellis. Thomas scored on a Gaffney groundout later in the inning for a 3-2 Cowboy lead.
BYU tied the score again in the fifth when Call tripled to left and scored on Paul Cluff's sacrifice.
The Cowboys tallied twice in the seventh, thanks to a Kracl wild pitch and an RBI by Clemente Corona for a 5-3 lead. BYU answered in the bottom of the inning with two runs of its own. Jeff Howes singled in one run and Randy Wilstead's fielder's choice grounder provided the tying run.
Call, who had two hits and two RBI for the Cougars, doubled in the game-winner in the eighth.
The BYU victory put an end to Wyoming's 10-game winning streak. The Cowboys fell to 36-20 on the year.
"No doubt this was discouraging for us," said Wyoming coach Bill Kinnenberg. "We need to go back and get ourselves up for tomorrow and put some pressure on some people."