Going into Tuesday afternoon’s baseball rivalry game between BYU and Utah, the Cougars were mired in a four-game losing streak.

During that slump, they had surrendered 49 runs, including 15 runs in a setback to Creighton Saturday, and committed some costly errors.

But those troubles didn’t show up at all Tuesday at Miller Field — just the opposite.

Against the Utes, BYU pitcher Mason Olson, making his first start of the season, and the rest of the bullpen combined for a one-hitter and shut out the Utes 7-0. 

The game began with Olson plunking Utah leadoff hitter Kai Roberts. But Olson ended up pitching four scoreless innings, getting the Cougars off to a strong start. 

“It’s unbelievable for him to go out and do that. We needed him to start. He’s kind of been consistent out of the ‘pen,’” said BYU coach Trent Pratt. “We wanted to give him 30-40 pitches and see how long he could go. He gave us four innings. You couldn’t ask for a better start. And we scored first and then he got us a shutdown inning. That was huge for us.”

Also, the Cougars’ gloves were impressive — not only did BYU not have an error, but it also made some sparkling defensive gems in the field. 

“I felt like I was locating (pitches) and the defense helped me out a lot,” said Olson, who earned his first win (1-1) of the season. “Thank goodness for them.”

Utah was hitless through five innings. The Utes’ first, and only, hit came in the sixth inning on a single by TJ Clarkson. Utah had only one runner reach second base.

Certainly, Pratt didn’t see a one-hitter coming, but he was happy to see his players play up to their potential. 

“No, but it’s there. We played good defense. We didn’t give them extra chances,” he said. “We didn’t make an error and give them an extra at-bat. That’s a big part of it, too. We didn’t give them anything.”

Olson loved the performance of the pitching staff, which also featured Carter Smith, Cutter Clawson, Ben Hansen, Boston Mabeus and Jake Porter.

“It was nice. We just needed to get our bullpen going,” he said. “It’s had a lot of success for us. We’re looking good going into conference (play).”

BYU struck first in the bottom of the first when Ozzie Pratt doubled and scored after Austin Deming’s sacrifice fly. 

The Cougars scored three runs in the third. It began with a Bryant Ball single, followed by Pratt reaching on an error. Ball scored on Deming’s RBI single. Then Cole Gambrill hammered a pitch off the top of the wall in right field for a double, scoring Pratt. Sepede’s sacrifice fly scored Deming to make it 4-0 for BYU. 

Jacob Wilk drilled a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth to stake the Cougars to a 5-0 advantage. 

BYU extended its lead to 6-0 in the eighth on an RBI single by Safea Mauai, scoring Gambill. Later in the frame, Cooper Vest’s pinch hit RBI double put the Cougars up 7-0. 

BYU improved to 5-10 on the season while Utah dropped to 7-9. 

Tuesday’s game was originally scheduled for 5 p.m., but it was moved up two hours in an effort to avert inclement weather in the forecast. 

As it turned out, the rain stayed away until the ninth inning. 

It marked the first of three games between the rivals this season. The other two games are scheduled for April 18 in Provo and May 9 in Salt Lake City.

“That Utah team is better than they played today,” Pratt said. “They’ll be ready the next time we play them, I’m sure.”

With the win, BYU tied the series (16-16) with Utah in the 32 games played since 2012, when the Cougars joined the West Coast Conference and the Utes joined the Pac-12. 

For Olson, a Spanish Fork native, beating Utah means a lot. 

“I love it. I mean, I hate ‘em,” he said. “It’s perfect.”

Pratt was more diplomatic while discussing why it’s important to play the Utes. 

“I think it’s good. It’s good for the people in the state. It’s good for our kids and their kids. A lot of our kids grew up playing against them. We all get along. We talk before the game. Their coaching staff is great,” he said. “We have a good relationship with them. It’s always good to play. In baseball, we’re going to play because we have to play Tuesday games and there’s no one close, so we’re going to play them three times a year … because it’s hard to fill the midweeks for us. It’s fun playing them.” 

BYU visits Loyola Marymount Thursday in its WCC opener. Utah hosts Arizona State Friday in its home opener.