Utah second baseman Oliver Dunn made a sliding stop and started a game-ending double play, then windmilled his arms as he ran across the infield Tuesday night.
The Utes deserved to enjoy their 8-6 nonconference victory over No. 24 BYU at Smith's Ballpark, after losing their last nine games. Utah third baseman Rykker Tom's two-run triple broke a tie in the eighth inning of a game that BYU never led, even though the Cougars repeatedly rallied after falling behind 4-0 in the first inning of the teams' first of three meetings this season.
Light, steady rain fell during the late innings, but the 3½-hour game was never halted. The Utes have won the last four games between the schools, who will meet again April 9 in Provo and May 14 at Smith’s Ballpark.
“It's always fun to play your rival and come out on top,” Tom said.
“Utah is a scary team,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “Their record is not indicative of how good they are.”
Utah (8-15) almost wasted a go-ahead opportunity in the bottom of the eighth, after the Cougars (21-6) tied the game in the top of the inning via Jackson Cluff's sacrifice fly.
Matt Richardson opened Utah's half of the eighth with a walk, then Dunn beat out a bunt single. BYU reliever Adam Zimmerman retired the next two batters on a strikeout and popup, before Tom came through in a big way.
The right-handed batter ripped the ball into the gap in right-center field to drive in Richardson and Dunn. A sophomore from Cedar City, Tom is batting .365 this season after posting a .298 average last year.
BYU got the potential tying run on base in the top of the ninth, but Zac McCleve earned his first save of the season by getting Abraham Valdez to ground into the double play. Richardson had made an error at shortstop earlier in the inning, but he made a nice turn to complete the double play after taking Dunn's throw. Jacob Rebar got the win, recording the last two outs in the top of the eighth while giving up only Cluff's sacrifice fly.
Utah will resume Pac-12 play with a series at Oregon State, beginning Friday; BYU's West Coast Conference series at San Diego starts Thursday.
The Utes thrived early Tuesday against BYU starter Ryan Brady, who allowed four runs and lasted only one inning. Shea Kramer's two-run single was the biggest of Utah's five hits in the inning.
Utah led 5-1 before BYU scored three runs in the fourth with the help of an error. The Cougars then earned a 5-5 tie in the seventh and a 6-6 tie in the eighth, before Tom put Utah ahead to stay.
Erick Migueles led Utah with three hits. Brock Hale and Valdez each had two hits for BYU.