BYU baseball dominates Utah in home opener with 20 (yes, twenty) runs

2014-03-04T22:15:00Z 2014-03-04T22:29:56Z BYU baseball dominates Utah in home opener with 20 (yes, twenty) runsJason Franchuk - Daily Herald Daily Herald
March 04, 2014 10:15 pm  • 

Kelton Caldwell hit a triple that tied BYU's record for most in a game: two.

Not particularly special, because it's a list. Except he rarely hits three-baggers, and when it came was wild: the second inning.

On what turned out to be an excellent Tuesday night for baseball — breaking clouds bringing a steady walk-up crowd — there wasn't much reason to stay past the end of the second inning.

It took about 100 minutes (true, an hour and 40 minutes) to reach that point at Miller Field. By then BYU led, 18-0, on the way to a 20-3 outcome that was never even a question after the Cougars had their first five batters reach base.

The Utes didn't score until their last plate appearance, wrapping up a 3 1/2-hour outing.

"I've never seen anything like that," BYU coach Mike Littlewood said.

It wasn't just the number of runs, or length of the night that was unique.

By the end of the second, many BYU fans were giving a standing ovation — to Utah, after it finally ended the second with a fielder's choice to second base.

It was a crazy way to start the home season for a team which hadn't exactly been so dominant.

BYU was 4-8 returning to Provo. The team's winning streak is at four games, however, counting a series sweep against Seattle in St. George last week.

"It was just good to get a few of them to drop tonight," Caldwell said after going 3-for-6, one of five Cougars with that many hits.

BYU led 6-0 after the first inning, Caldwell having his first triple that scored two runs.

It was a frustrating, error-plagued, focus-absent performance from the Utes, who fell to 5-6. Like BYU, they hadn't exactly played a murderer's row so far. But they did defeat nationally ranked Indiana, which went to the College World Series last summer. Utah won that game, 5-4 in 15 innings Feb. 22 in Arizona and hadn't had a game yet where it allowed more than eight runs.

Littlewood thought Utah came out "a little bit flat," perhaps thinking there wouldn't be a game. BYU's coach conceded he wasn't sure a half hour before first-pitch how the forecast would go, but he convinced his team to stay prepared.

"We had the mindset we were going to play, no matter what," Littlewood said.

Utah gave up 12 runs in the second inning in Provo. BYU had 18 batters and 10 hits.

Caldwell's second triple came in his second at-bat of the inning, following up a single as the inning's second batter.

Bret Lopez had one at-bat that summed it up, if that's at all possible in such a unique debacle.

It looked like he was hit by a pitch. It turned out the ball struck his bat handle, and caromed like a bunt.

Lopez hustled to first base, the Utes stood around and the bases were loaded.

That was when there was still nobody out in the second.

Utah didn't get much help for its hurlers — five errors and six hits (three in the ninth inning), going through four pitchers in the first three innings alone.

At least (for both teams' sake) the third inning was scoreless for both teams, reaching the fourth by the two-hour mark.

The seventh-inning stretch was reached after three hours.

About 1,900 fans were there around first-pitch, but less than half remained past the sixth inning, when it was a 19-0 score.

Desmond Poulson did his part to speed things up a little, pitching five innings and allowing just three hits. The senior righthander struck out seven and retired the Utes in order twice. He needed just 68 pitches. Littlewood quipped that Poulson threw that many just trying to stay loose during the second.

The coach called his team's plate appearances "great at-bats against really good pitching."

Utah couldn't say the same.

A runner never advanced past second base on him, coming in the first.

It would take awhile before it happened again. But Utah put runners on first and second base after an error in the ninth, and an RBI single followed.

A fielder's choice brought in another run.

Not nearly enough to eclipse the in-state bragging rights of BYU, which went 32-21 last year, lost four major league draft picks and is aiming for more.

"All of us have a bunch of friends on this Utah team," Caldwell said. "I don't know. I can't put it into words."

Utah will get a chance for redemption March 25 in Salt Lake City.

-- Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd is also the beat writer for the BYU football team, the columnist for the Cougar men’s basketball team and covers a variety of Utah Valley high school athletics. He can be followed on Twitter at @JaredrLloyd.
Read more from  Jared Lloyd here.

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