PROVO, Utah – Colton Shaver hit and pitched effectively in No. 18 BYU baseball's West Coast Conference tournament-clinching 23-19 win against Portland Thursday night at Larry H. Miller Field.
"I've never seen a game like that before," BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said. "It was just perseverance. I told the guys it was going to be a long game, and we just needed to keep playing."
With their 30th win, the Cougars clinched one of the top four spots in the WCC, which makes them eligible for the league tournament in Stockton beginning on May 25.
Conference-leader BYU (30-15 overall, 18-4 WCC) had 22 hits in the win over the Pilots (10-35-1 overall, 5-17 WCC). Shaver had two hits and three RBI at the plate, and dealt 1.2 innings of one-run ball in his pitching debut for the Cougars.
BYU jumped on Pilot pitching for five runs on four hits in the first inning. Shaver and Nate Favero drove in one on a sacrifice fly and a single, respectively. Bronson Larsen’s double to the right field scored Brock Hale and Tanner Chauncey, after Brennon Anderson crossed on a wild pitch.
Portland came back with three homers and seven runs in the second. Bo Burrup was summoned to replace starter Maverik Buffo. Six runs were credited to the latter.
Anderson's second home run in as many games landed just beyond the centerfield fence in the bottom of the frame. It set the tone for three more runs, two of which came home on Favero’s single through the right side.
The Pilots put another seven on the board in the third inning to lead 14-9. They used five hits, including a home run, and four walks for the crooked number.
David Clawson entered the game in the bottom of the third and belted a two-run double off the wall in right-center. His two-bagger highlighted an eight-run frame as BYU regained the lead, 17-14. Daniel Schneemann, Kringlen, Hale and Shaver also had hits in the inning.
Portland once again evened up the score with three runs in the fifth.
In the top of the sixth, Shaver made his Cougar pitching debut. He gave up one hit and struck out a Pilot in the frame.
"I think that was a key for the momentum," Littlewood said. "For us to put a zero on the scoreboard was huge."
Clawson ripped a single in front of the Portland right fielder to give BYU an 18-17 lead heading into the seventh.
Shaver surrendered two hits and a run in the seventh, but exited with a pair of outs. Mason Marshall came in and induced an inning-ending groundout to preserve the 18-18 tie.
Chauncey’s sacrifice fly provided the Cougars’ 19th run after Schneemann doubled and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Larsen provided a cushion with a three-run opposite-field shot to put BYU up 22-18 heading into the eighth. He again stands alone with a team-leading 12 dingers on the season.
Marshall (3-2) earned the win by getting the last seven outs for BYU and allowing just one run.
The game came close to the most total runs in a BYU game, which was set in 1987, when the Cougars beat Air Force 32-13.
Game two will start on Friday at 6 p.m. MDT.