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Y. opens baseball season Thursday

Cougars will play three-game set at University of Pacific

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Baseball begins for BYU in its season opener this Thursday to start a three-game series at the University of Pacific.

The Cougars, 39-19-1 last season, expect to start junior college transfer Jesse Craig on the mound in Thursday's 6 p.m. debut against the Tigers, who are 2-1 this season after playing at Santa Clara last weekend. The hard-throwing right-hander posted an 8-2 record with a 1.30 earned run average last season for Southern Nevada Community College.

"We are excited for the season to get underway," said BYU Coach Vance Law, who is in his seventh season at the Cougar helm. "We are tired of hitting against our own pitching. Everybody is anxious to start up where we left off last season with continued intensity."

The probable starters for games two and three for BYU are Patrick Wells and Brandon Christiansen. Wells, a senior lefty, was 1-1 last season when he received a medical redshirt, but was BYU's top pitcher in 2004 with a 7-5 record and a 5.76 ERA. Christiansen, a senior right-hander was 4-2 and 5.24 as one of the Cougars' main starters last season.

This is the first of four trips BYU will make to California this season, including a first-ever mid-season Mountain West Conference Tournament in San Diego during March and the River City Classic later this month in Sacramento.

This is the first of two meetings this season between BYU Coach Vance Law and an opposing coach who also played in the Major Leagues.

Pacific Coach Ed Sprague and Law each played for five teams in the Majors, including common organizations with the Pirates and A's.

The BYU-Pacific games will be played at Banner Island Ballpark, home of the minor league Stockton Ports. All of the games will be broadcast live via audiocast by the University of Pacific.