Junior catcher Bronson Larsen’s two-run home run led a BYU comeback that eventually came up short as No. 29 BYU fell 10-8 to Pacific on Saturday afternoon at Larry H. Miller Field.
“We battled back and battled back, even in the ninth inning,” BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said. “It feels like one slipped away. We feel like we should have gotten the sweep, but Pacific is going to beat some teams. They can swing the bat, especially if you make mistakes."
BYU took the series against Pacific, 2-1. The team’s current win streak ends at 12 wins in a row, with the Cougars moving to 18-2, 2-1 in the West Coast Conference. Pacific improves to 7-12, 1-2 in the WCC.
"I thought Keaton Kringlen did a great job," Littlewood said. "He's not afraid to compete and he just finds a way to square the ball up. His barrel finds the ball all the time and it doesn't matter who's throwing. He's aggressive and, for the most part, he swings at balls he can handle. He's going to be really good for BYU for the next three or four years.”
Kringlen led the BYU offense, hitting 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Colton Shaver also added one RBI, going 2-for-4 in the game. Larsen hit his fourth homer of the season, adding two RBIs as well. Shaver continues to lead the team with his 10-game hitting streak.
The Cougars used four pitchers, including starter Hayden Rogers, Jordan Wood, Riley Gates and Mason Marshall. Gates led the hurlers with three strikeouts and only allowed one hit. Wood, who pitched four complete innings, recorded two strikeouts and only allowed four hits.
In the top of the second, with runners on the corners, Pacific took its first lead of the series, going up 1-0 off a single. Then, with the bases loaded, a hit scored another runner to put the Cougars down 2-0. A Tiger batter was hit by a pitch, plating another runner to increase the lead to 3-0. The Cougars gave up two more runs to go down 5-0, but a hopper to first was snagged by Tanner Chauncey to get the Cougars out of trouble and end the side.
Kringlen doubled to left center to start the fifth inning with BYU's first hit of the game. An error on a throw from third to first gave Larsen a chance to touch first, putting Kringlen on third. Brennon Lund hit an RBI single to left field, plating Kringlen and putting the first run of the day on the board for the Cougars. Hayden Nielsen hit an RBI single to left field, scoring Larsen and closing the gap to 5-2.
Pacific batter J.J. Wagner hit a solo home run in the sixth inning to push the Pacific lead to 6-2. Then, with runners on first and second, Gates came on and pitched two-straight outs to get the Cougars out of a jam. In the bottom of the inning, Eric Urry laid down a great bunt to lead off and made it to first. Shaver doubled to center and Urry was waived home by Littlewood to narrow the deficit to 6-3. After a fly out put Shaver on third, Kringlen hit an RBI single that the third basemen couldn't control, plating Shaver to close the gap to 6-4.
With two on and two out in the eighth, the Tigers hit a double, scoring both runners to go up 8-4. Marshall came on and pitched the Cougars out of the inning. With Urry on, Shaver doubled to the right fence. Brennon Anderson hit an infield RBI to short and beat the throw to first to score Urry and bring the score to 8-5. Then, with Shaver on third, Kringlen hit a short infield hopper, touching first and plating Shaver to close the lead to 8-6. Larsen blasted a two-run homer, his fourth of the year, over the left field fence to tie the score 8-8.
In the top of the ninth, Pacific batter Danny Mayer hit a two-run homer, giving the Tigers the winning run and setting the final score at 10-8.
The Cougars return to Miller Park on Thursday, March 24, at 6 p.m. MDT, to start a three-game series with Loyola Marymount University. Fans can follow the game live through links on BYU's website, BYUtv, BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143 and ESPN Radio 960 AM.