BYU’s West Coast Conference champion baseball team, ranked No. 24 in the country, ran into a hot pitcher on Thursday, and the results weren’t pretty for the Cougars.
Loyola Marymount ace Codie Paiva held the Cougars to five hits in a complete-game pitching performance and struck out 11 as the fourth-seeded Lions upset No. 1 seed BYU 4-1 in a conference tournament opener at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, Calif.
The Cougars will face the loser of the late Saint Mary’s-Gonzaga game in an elimination game Friday.
The Cougars scored their only run in the ninth inning when they put together a couple of hits. Mitch McIntyre’s double plated Jaren Hall. But Paiva (7-5) got Austin Deming to pop out to end the threat.
BYU ace Jordan Wood (5-4) took the loss. He faced 20 batters before being replaced in the fifth inning and finished with three strikeouts.
LMU’s Trevin Esquerra hit a two-run homer off Wood in the fourth inning to break a scoreless tie. He drove in another run in LMU’s two-run seventh inning.
The Cougars stranded five base runners. McIntyre had two of BYU’s five hits, while Noah Hill, Danny Gelalich and Deming had the other three.
Two years ago, BYU dropped its tournament opener before reeling off four straight wins to claim the title and advance to the NCAA Tournament. Coach Mike Littlewood said earlier in the week that BYU would probably have to make it to the WCC championship game — which is Saturday — if it hopes to get an at-large bid to an NCAA regional.