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Utah Utes win rainy rivalry battle against BYU Cougars, 8-6

SALT LAKE CITY — Rain fell and so, too, did a pair of lengthy streaks in Tuesday night’s rivalry game at Smith’s Ballpark.

Utah third baseman Rykker Tom drove in a pair of runs with a two-out triple in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Utes upset the Cougars 8-6.

“It’s always fun to play your rival and come out on top,” said Tom, who hit the game-winner off a fast ball from Drew Zimmerman. “I just happened to connect.”

The outcome snapped a nine-game skid for Utah (8-15) and ended an run of eight straight wins for BYU (21-6). The Utes have won the last four meetings with the Cougars, dating back to last season.

Utah coach Bill Kinneberg noted that the games always seem to come down to the wire.

“It’s always like that. It goes down to the last at-bat usually,” he said. “They’re a good club and we played well tonight to win a ball game. So it’ll be an interesting next two games when we play them as well, but a big win for us to get off the schneid and some guys came through for us.”

Five pitchers — Dustyn Schramm, David Watson, Austin Moore, Jacob Reser and Zac McCleve — combined to scatter nine hits for the Utes. Erick Migueles had three hits.

Utah came out swinging. The Utes scored four runs on five hits in the first inning. The outburst featured an RBI double by Zack Moeller, a two-run single from Shea Kramer and a run-scoring hit off the bat of Chandler Anderson.

BYU cut the deficit to 4-1 in the second on a single by Brian Hsu. Utah matched it in the bottom of the inning on swing by Migueles.

Trailing 5-1, the Cougars climbed back into contention in the fourth. An RBI single by Hobbs Nyberg got the comeback started. Later, with two outs, they added two more runs on a Utah error.

BYU evened the score at 5-5 in the seventh when Abraham Valdez knocked in a run with a two-out single.

Nothing changed until a back-and-fourth exchange over the seventh and eighth innings.

Utah pulled in front when Isaac Deveaux brought home a run on a fielder’s choice. It was the lone score the Utes managed despite having the bases loaded with no outs. BYU tied the game on a fly out by Jackson Cluff — setting the stage for a dramatic conclusion. “Almost every single one of these games — from when I played 25 years ago to now — it just comes down to the last at-bat,” said BYU coach Mike Littlewood. “But Utah did a great job making us pay for balls we left over the plate. I mean that was kind of the name of the game tonight. They didn’t miss many pitches that we threw over the plate and they made plays when they had to. So just a typical game.”

This was the first of three scheduled meeting between the Cougars and Utah. They meet again April 9 in Provo and May 14 in Salt Lake City.

Both teams have conference games later this week. BYU is at San Diego Thursday, Friday and Saturday, while Utah is at Oregon State Friday, Saturday and Sunday.