BYU Baseball played a 4 game series in Birmingham, Alabama against the Samford Bulldogs. The Cougars took 3 of the 4 games with grand slams and clutch pitching. After sweeping St. Louis last weekend, the Y is now 7-1 on the season -- the best start in school history.
The hot start by the BYU baseball team is to be admired. The Samford Bulldogs are expected to win the Southern Conference and field All-Americans in the 3, 4, and 5 hole in their batting order.
Here's a recap of the games from this series.
Game 1: BYU 7 Samford 1
BYU's Michael Rucker improved to 2-0 on the season in his 2nd start. Rucker has definitely established that he is the man to be at the top of the pitching rotation. His 7 inning performance was the perfect tone setter for the Cougars to kick off their series with the Bulldogs. Rucker allowed 4 hits while striking out 7 batters in a commanding performance. The righty has been an unsolvable puzzle to batters in his first 2 outings.
Closing out the game was LHP Bo Burrup. Burrup made short work of his 2 innings retiring all 6 batters he faced.
Fresh off being named WCC Player of the Week CF Brennon Lund hit 3-for-4 while drawing a walk and swiping a pair of bags.
The big moment offensively came in the top of the 4th inning when Brennon Anderson came to the plate with the bases loaded. The sophomore blasted a grand slam shot putting 4 runs on the board.
The Cougars added another 3 runs in the 7th inning, but with how Rucker and Burrup performed, all that was needed was Anderson's 4 RBI swipe.
Game 2: BYU 4 Samford 3 (10 innings)
The Cougars won in extra innings thanks to a Colton Shaver double, that was then followed up by a Brennon Anderson single that scored Shaver's pinch runner Court Iorg from 2nd. The play put the Cougars ahead 4-3.
3 outs away from the win, reliever RHP Mason Marshall would take BYU to their record breaking 6-0 start. Marshall absolutely destroyed the Samford order, striking out all 3 batters in only 10 pitches including the dangerous Bulldog outfielder Heath Quinn, who had already hit a home run.
Also, of note for Marshall was his big out he got to force extra innings. Samford had runners at the corners with 2 out. BYU Head Coach Mike Littlewood elected to bring in Marshall. Marshall was able to get a grounder off the Bulldog bat to 3B Jackson Cluff. Cluff fielded the ball cleanly and made the throw to 1st as the Cougars escaped.
Maverik Buffo made another solid start. He gave the Cougars 6 innings with just 4 hits. Buffo just made 3 mistakes on the outing. 2 of his throws were smoked for homers. The third was a well hit ball that was an RBI scoring double. A very nice effort for the sophomore. Buffo was given a no decision as the win was awarded to Marshall.
Game 3: Samford 10 BYU 5
The Cougars were rolling and the only thing that could stop them in the 2nd game of the doubleheader was Samford's Heath Quinn. Quinn, last week's Southern Conference player of the week, perhaps won this week's player of the week award with his performance in just this game. Quinn went 4-for-5 with 3 home runs and 7 runs batted in.
In the bottom of the 8th, Quinn crushed Triston Busse's mound offering to right field. The crowd rose to their feet to watch as the ball narrowly stayed in Joe Lee Griffin field after hitting under the lip of the outfield wall. Quinn nearly had his 4th bomb of the game. Instead, a ho-hum stand up double scoring two runners.
Quinn's dominate performance quickly erased BYU's Eric Urry 4th inning grand slam. Urry's 2nd home run on the season.
For BYU fans, lets hope that is the best individual performance the Cougars will run into in 2016.
Game 4: BYU 6, Samford 4
Coach Littlewood elected to start Connor Williams. Williams started game 4 against St. Louis. He had not been announced as a probably starter before the Samford series, but was handed the ball Saturday afternoon.
Williams struck out 4 batters, giving up 6 hits and 3 earned runs in 4 innings of work. He would be given a no decision. Williams pitch count was just south of 100. Littlewood looked to lefty Riley Gates in relief.
Gates would pitch 2 innings surrendering 1 run and a hit. He would be awarded the win.
Mason Marshall closed out the game with a 6-out save. Marshall retired all 6 batters he faced striking out 1.
DH Colton Shaver led the way from the plate recording 3 hits in 4 appearances with a RBI. Catcher Bronson Larsen would have a 3-run homer to center field in the 4th. Tanner Chauncey and Brennon Lund both drove in runs in the 5th.
It was a terrific weekend for the Cougars on the diamond. BYU will be on the road once again next week as they play the Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence. The games can be watched online at ESPN 3.