Provo • For eight innings Tuesday night, the 363rd meeting between Utah and BYU was anything but the typical Utes-Cougars baseball game. No drama, little suspense and not much offense.
You knew that wouldn’t last.
Seemingly left for dead, the Utes erupted for four runs with one out in the top of the ninth to send the game into extra innings. But with one out in the bottom of the 10th, BYU pinch-runner Cam Richins scored from third on a wild pitch to give the Cougars a 7-6 win in front of 1,902 at Miller Park.
“The four-run lead felt like a one-run lead, it really did. … I betcha 90 percent of these games come down to the last at-bat, or the last inning,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “They helped us with a couple passed balls and wild pitches, but we will take it any way we can.”
Richins was running for Keaton Kringlen, who led off the 10th with an infield single but was pulled because he is nursing a hamstring injury. After Nate Favero’s sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch from Utah reliever Trenton Stolz moved Richins to third, Stolz unleashed another wayward pitch that eluded catcher Shea Kramer and Richins scored easily to give the Cougars the win in the first of four meetings with Utah this season.
It was the rivals’ first game since the Utes won a wild 13-inning game by the same score (7-6) last May over then-No. 18 BYU. The Cougars improved to 10-9 and snapped a three-game losing skid, while Utah dropped to 2-17. Utah coach Bill Kinneberg was coaching in just his fifth game this season, having had to sit out the Utes’ first 14 games for recruiting violations.
BYU now leads the series 245-116-2.
“I am proud of these guys for showing up today and winning a tough game. These are big games for us, and we don’t shy away from talking about the rivalry. I think if you say this is just another game you are trying to fool yourself and kid everybody else.”
The Utes had just two runs on three hits heading into the ninth, but got four hits and four runs off BYU closer Jake Suddreth to tie it at 6-6. Suddreth hit two batters in the frame to add to Utah’s offensive explosion.
Davis Delorefice got the rally started with an infield single. After Erick Migueles was hit by a pitch and Kramer singled, Oliver Dunn was hit by a pitch to bring in Delorefice. Matt Richardson and Rykker Tom then delivered RBI singles to tie it.
Suddreth pitched out of a jam in the 10th and got the win.
The Cougars plated four in the second to take an early 4-0 lead, thanks to Kyle Dean’s sacrifice fly, No. 9 hitter Jarrett Perns’ two-run triple off the left-field wall and Brennon Anderson’s groundout RBI.
The Utes answered with two in the third when Dunn scored on a groundout and Tom, a freshman from Cedar City, deposited starter Bo Burrup’s offering over the scoreboard in left field.
BYU right fielder Brock Hale robbed Kramer of an extra-base hit with a running catch in the seventh, and center fielder Perns took a big hit away from Utah’s Dunn a few pitches later.
The Cougars pushed across another run in their seventh to take a 6-2 lead when Kringlen’s second sacrifice fly RBI scored Daniel Schneeman, but Utah had one last rally in it.
And nobody was surprised.
The teams will also meet April 3 and May 8 at Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City and April 24 at Miller Park in Provo.
BYU 7, Utah 6 (10)<br>• BYU pinch runner Cam Richins scores on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 10th to give the Cougars a 7-6 win over rival Utah.<br>• Utah scores four runs in the top of the ninth to overcome a 6-2 deficit and force the extra inning.<br>• Brock Hale goes 3 for 5 for BYU and Keaton Kringlen and Jarrett Perns drive in two runs apiece.