The Utah baseball team’s bats stayed hot on a cold Tuesday evening in Provo against BYU, exploding for a 29-14 victory in the rivalry matchup.  

“Obviously we’re glad to win,” Utah coach Gary Henderson said. “(I’m) really proud of how our guys responded after giving up some runs.”

“In some respects, the two clubs set the game back a few years. From … the aesthetic perspective, it was not a great game.” — Utah baseball coach Gary Henderson

The skill that the two squads played with on offense was lacking on defense, combining for 11 unearned runs, five errors and 19 walks. 

“In some respects, the two clubs set the game back a few years,” Henderson said. “From … the aesthetic perspective, it was not a great game.”

Utah used five pitchers, while BYU plowed through six. 

“If you make an error you’ve got to come back and make a pitch and not let it (get worse),” BYU coach Trent Pratt said. “Baseball is a cruel game sometimes.”

“(We have to) forget about it. We’ve got to get better in some spots and we’ll keep working, trying to get better. But tonight’s over.”

Thankfully for the Cougars that’s the case. The lopsided defeat came as a surprise after the school had been trending upward coming into its matchup with the Utes, winning four of its last five games. Utah had been less fortunate, winning only two of its last eight contests. 

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Tuesday was the pair of schools’ second meeting on the year, both matchups taking place in Provo. BYU earned a shutout victory over Utah in the initial meeting back in March while holding the Utes to just one hit. 

The Utes more than made up for their one-hit loss, reaching their highest run total since 2005 and scoring more than any team ever has at Miller Park since BYU started playing at the complex in 2001. Together, the two teams combined for a park-record 43 runs. 

When all is said and done, the pair of rivals will meet three times this season, the third and final contest taking place next month in Salt Lake City. 

The two schools’ initial contest provided extra motivation for the Utes.

“We were here last month, and we left with getting shut out,” Henderson said. “We’re really glad to get some hits.”

Utah had no problem hitting the ball Tuesday night, earning 20 hits, despite a somewhat rocky start in that regard. The Utes scored six runs in the first two innings on no hits, putting the Cougars in a 6-1 hole. BYU battled back, using five hits and one Utah error to score six runs in the bottom of the fourth to take the lead.

The Cougars lead, however, was short-lived. The Utes’ bats got put to good use as the visitors used an eight-run fifth, headlined by junior catcher Davis Cop’s three-run bomb over the center field wall to go back ahead. 

Utah added four runs in the sixth, five in the seventh, and three in the eighth, growing its lead inning by inning. The Utes hit four home runs over that span, with senior catcher Jayden Kiernan blasting a grand slam over the right-field fence in the seventh. 

Tuesday’s triumph over BYU keeps the Cougars from earning what would have been their first consecutive victories over the Utes since 2016. Since those defeats, Utah has gone 12-6 against its rival. 

Henderson attributed some of his team’s success on offense to the windy conditions. Windy or not, the Utes looked unstoppable in Provo Tuesday evening. 

Both schools will resume play later this week, with BYU returning to the field for a three-game nonconference home series against UNC Greensboro starting Thursday evening. Utah will travel to Tucson to face Arizona beginning Friday in a three-game series as well, with hopes of keeping its newfound momentum alive and moving out of last place in the Pac-12 standings.

BYU and Utah will next meet on the diamond when the Utes host the Cougars May 9 at Smith’s Ballpark. That contest is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. 

Utah infielder Bruer Webster gets BYU’s Austin Deming out at second at Miller Park in Provo on Tuesday, April 18, 2023. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News