PROVO — BYU's 9-3 win over Utah Valley on Tuesday went just as Cougar coach Mike Littlewood planned, sort of.
Littlewood used seven pitchers, with none of those pitchers seeing more than two innings, regardless of performance. That was the plan heading in, with the pitchers used largely providing the type of performance that was expected.
Blake Inouye and Bo Burrup started things off brilliantly, each pitching two innings of no-hit ball, with Kenny Saenz, Drew Zimmerman and Jake Suddreth closing out the the final three and 1/3 innings, allowing just one Wolverine baserunner on a bases-on-balls. The middle innings were a bit rough, however, with some younger relievers — freshmen James Barker and Justin Sterner specifically — allowing three runs, which wasn't entirely unexpected.
"I wanted all my relievers to get work," Littlewood said. "But I was a little concerned about the fifth and sixth innings, because those guys are freshmen. They're unproven, and they're trying to find their way back coming back of (LDS Church) missions."
While the pitching measured up to almost exactly what Littlewood anticipated, the hitting was a different issue altogether. UVU starter Kaden Schmitt allowed just one hit and no runs through four innings pitched, before the Cougar bats came alive in the fifth.
David Clawson's provided an RBI double to lead off the scoring, with Brennon Anderson adding an RBI single to tie things up 2-2 after five innings played.
UVU's Jackson Overlund took back the lead at 3-2 with an RBI single in the top of the sixth, before the Cougars took firm control of the game in the bottom half of the same inning. Once again it was Clawson in the middle of it, this time providing an RBI single, with Jarrett Perns ending the scoring by roping in two runs with a triple.
"I was looking straight fastball, and then wanted to drive it to the right-center gap," Perns said of his big hit. "I got it. I got exactly what I wanted."
Daniel Schneemann led off the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run over the right field fence, with Brian Hsu adding an RBI single to extend the lead to a commanding 8-3 margin.
"We didn't panic. That was the biggest thing," Littlewood said of his team's strides made at the plate late. "We just kind of stuck with it. We got down 2-0, but I felt really good with our at-bats. … I think we just persevered and battled through it."
With the win, BYU improves to 9-6 on the year, and will begin West Coast Conference play on Thursday by hosting Loyola Marymount.
"It's going to be a dogfight. Every weekend," Littlewood said of what he expects in conference play.