Last season, the BYU baseball team started off the season hot. It took 20 games before the Cougars lost 2 games; it was March 19th in the middle of the West Coast Conference play.
On February 20th of this season, nearly a month earlier, the Cougars lost their 2nd game in their 3rd time out on the diamond.
Let’s take a look at how the opening series played out at the Atlanta Challenge.
BYU 3 Georgia Tech 5
The season opener, played at Georgia Tech’s Russ Chandler Stadium, saw the Cougars get out to a slow start. Thanks to the efforts of Yellow Jackets’ ace starter, Xzavion Curry.
Curry absolutely baffled the Cougars batters. He kept the Brigham Bats off the scoreboard through 5 innings while recording 5 strike outs and a walk. The Cougars were able to get 5 hits off Curry — 2 by leadoff batter Daniel Schneemann. Schneemann would go 3-for-5 on the day.
The Yellow Jackets opened up scoring on BYU starter Maverik Buffo’s first pitch of the 2nd inning when GT’s Ryan Peurifoy wrapped the ball over the centerfield wall for a solo shot.
The 3rd inning saw Brennon Anderson hit a 2-out double. Senior DH Tanner Chauncey then hit a single to left field. Anderson tried to wheel around the bags all the way to home where he was thrown out at the plate.
The opponent from the ACC continued to score in the 3rd. Buffo had loaded the bases and then missed his target on a pickoff throw to 2nd. Buffo’s error resulted in 2 runs for Georgia Tech.
The final runs for the Yellow Jackets came when Kel Johnson hit a 2-run home run off Buffo over the left field wall. GT 5 BYU 0 after 5 innings.
The 6th inning saw both squads make a pitching change. Cougar southpaw Rhett Parkinson made quick work in his 1-2-3 frame. While Yellow Jackets righty Jake Lee had a rougher go on the mound as he was introduced to Colton Shaver power bat. Shaver ripped a 2-run bomb over the fence in right center.
The final run scored in the contest came in the 8th inning. Tanner Chauncey had a lead-off walk, which eventually resulted in Chauncey coming across home on a Kyle Dean RBI single.
BYU reliever Mason Marshall did well in 1.2 innings striking out two.
The Cougars had more hits than their opponents, 11 to 7, but were unable to generate early offense. Most hits came with 2 outs. Defensively the Y were prone to errors as they committed 3.
BYU 13 Kennesaw State 4
The Cougars cruised against the Kennesaw State Owls on their home field, Stillwell Stadium.
The Cougars started right-handed pitcher Brady Corless. Corless was great. He recorded 5.2 innings of work with 6 strikeouts while allowing 2 runs.
Corless received help from the offense. The Bat Cats jumped all over Owls starter AJ Moore. In the 2nd inning the Cougars were able to put across 4 runs. Singles by Kyle Dean, Daniel Schneemann and doubles by Nate Favero and Brennon Anderson doubled helped the Y to move players around the bases — so did a pair of wild pitches and a RBI sacrifice fly by freshman catcher DC Clawson on his first college at bat.
Nate Favero ended up hitting another double in the 3rd inning. The Cougars also piled on more runs by sending the ball out of the park 3 times. DC Clawson, who was drafted by the New York Yankees, recorded his first college hit — a 2-run home run. Sophomore All-American Keaton Kringlen added a deep fly in the 6th. Sophomore Brock Hale finished the scoring with a 3-run shot in the top of the 9th inning.
BYU 2 Georgia State 3
It took extra innings and a dash of controversy for the Georgia State Panthers to put away BYU.
In the bottom of the 10th inning with 2 outs, Georgia State had runners on the corners. Georgia State hit a weak ball in the infield that was fielded and thrown to Nate Favero who had taken over at 1st base. The umpire ruled that Favero had pulled his foot off the bag making the Panther batter safe at first. This ruling resulted in the runner at 3rd to score completing the Georgia State walk-off come-from-behind victory.
The Cougars put the pressure on early as they scored 2 runs in the 2nd inning. Kyle Dean had a RBI single scoring Colton Shaver. Nate Favero hit a RBI sac fly to score Brock Hale. Putting the Cougars up 2-0.
That, however, was the end of the Cougars’ threat from the plate. The Y would only record 5 hits on Monday afternoon at Georgia State’s diamond.
In an afternoon where the bats struggled, the Cougar pitchers came up big. Lefty Hayden Rogers made a good 4 inning outing where he surrendered 1 run on 6 hits with 0 walks. Keaton Cenatiempo, Rhett Parkinson, Mason Marshall pitched a comibined 3 innings giving up 4 hits with 1 runs while ringing up 4 K’s.
Riley Gates came in the 8th inning to a tie game. Gates handled the Panthers in the 8th and 9th innings striking out 3 batters. In the 10th inning, Gates got into trouble allowing runners on the corners which resulted in the Panthers win. Despite his good performance, Gates goes into the record book as the losing pitcher.
The Cougars will travel all the way across the country to San Jose, California to play in the San Jose State Tournament. They will play 4 games evenly split against Northern Colorado and the host, San Jose State. The Y will play 5 games in 6 days with an emotional game to kick off the week; it will be interesting to see how the Brigham Bats respond to the challenges of a cross country trip.