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Y. BREAKS NCAA DROUGHT BY DOWNING LAFAYETTE

SHARE Y. BREAKS NCAA DROUGHT BY DOWNING LAFAYETTE

BYU's breakthrough in the NCAA baseball tournament finally came Friday afternoon. Tied with Lafayette in an elimination game in the South II Regional, the Cougars exploded for 10 runs in three innings on the way to a 13-3 victory.

The win was the Cougars' first in an NCAA tourney since 1985 - and they'd lost 12 of 13 tournament games, including a 16-5 hammering by host Mississippi State Thursday.BYU will play today at 3 p.m. MDT against Illinois, which lost late Friday night to Mississippi State, 5-3. In Friday's other game, Florida State beat Central Michigan, 4-2.

Lance Clark allowed 12 hits but struck out seven and pitched a complete game for the Cougars and designated hitter Brian Banks drove in four runs with two doubles. "We knew our offense would start rolling if Lance could keep it close for about five innings," said BYU Coach Gary Pullins.

The Cougars collected three runs in the sixth on Corey Francom's two-out bunt, a wild pitch and Banks' double. With Lafayette starter Rob Hatalovsky out of the game, the Cougars racked up five more runs in the seventh with doubles by Blaine Milne and Banks doing the most damage, and closed with three runs in the bottom of the eighth.

Clark, a left-hander from Provo, held the Leopards scoreless over the last three innings, improving to 8-6 for the season. While pitching decently, Clark was charged with both losses to San Diego State - one as a starter and one as a reliever - in last weekend's WAC tournament. This time, he had plenty of support and allowed the other Cougar pitchers to rest for a possible two games today. "I knew we needed a complete game, to save some of our pitching," Clark said.

The Cougars had only 10 hits but received some breaks, unlike Thursday's disaster against Mississippi State. A Lafayette runner scored on a hit but was called out for missing third base; later, Randy Wilstead's popup was lost in the sun and resulted in a run on a throwing error.

"We haven't played this poorly in my eight years at Lafayette," said Coach Joe Hindelang, whose team had lost 7-2 Thursday to top-seeded Florida State.