SALT LAKE CITY — The BYU baseball team is in the middle of a .500 season so far and the Cougars are finding it’s the little things that are making the difference.

Making key plays at important times, for instance.

That was the case Tuesday night. In front of a crowd of nearly 2,400 fans at Smith’s Ballpark, freshman Kuhio Aloy drilled a two-out single with the bases loaded in the eighth inning, and that made the difference in the Cougars’ 7-3 win over rival Utah.

“We’re making pitches when we need to and we got a couple of big hits tonight, and that’s how the game goes,” said BYU coach Trent Pratt.

Playing the Utes for the first time this season — due to a rainout last month — the Cougars (15-15) led for most of the game on the strength of a homer by Cooper Vest and an RBI single by Collin Reuter.

BYU’s pitching staff combined to limit the Utes’ offense, too, until the game got interesting in the seventh inning.

With one out and Utah trailing 3-1, Hunter Antillon singled and then Core Jackson belted a home run over the left-field fence to tie the game and give the Utah dugout some much-needed lift.

That momentum, however, only lasted a short time as Luke Anderson singled off Utah pitcher Jackson Elder. Keoni Painter followed with a bunt, and both players moved up when Painter’s throw got past first baseman Drake Digiorno.

Utah brought in Bransen Kuehl and, after an intentional walk to load the bases, the fireballer enticed Reuter to hit into a double play — home to first.

Kuehl was asked to load the bases again and had an 0-2 count on Aloy, a .279 hitter whose best memory previously had been a grand slam at Texas Tech three weeks ago.

After Kuehl missed with a breaking ball, Aloy slammed the next pitch up the middle to break the tie, and the home team was deflated and eventually defeated.

“I wasn’t trying to do too much,” said Aloy, a Hawaii native. “Just put the ball in play. I hit the ball up the middle and we’re up two. Didn’t give up. We were down, but we’re always trying to find a way. I was just looking something in the (strike) zone. If it was there, I was going to try to hit it.”

Crew Robinson plated another run with a single, and Aloy scored shortly afterward on a Utah fielding error.

“The kid threw him a fastball,” said Pratt. “He got ready on time and got the barrel (of the bat) out. He got the best of it.”

Utah fell to 21-10 with the loss. Tyler Quinn had two of the Utes’ six hits. After BYU took the lead for good, Cutter Clawson ended any rally cries by retiring the last six hitters.

The Utes return to Pac-12 play next weekend with a three-game series at Arizona State. BYU begins a three-game homestand Thursday against Baylor, followed by a home match against Utah Valley and another important Big 12 contest at Miller Park against Oklahoma.