A beautiful play by BYU’s pitcher fielding a first-inning bunt Friday robbed visiting San Diego of a run.
The Cougars, however, rarely were reprieved with such short hits or satisfying outs.
The Toreros, a new West Coast Conference foe ranked No. 19 by one of four major polling services, won handily for the second straight night at Miller Field. This time it was 13-2 after a very quick start.
“The way (USD) is swinging the bats right now — it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a team top to bottom swinging the bats like this as consistently as they are,” BYU coach Vance Law said. “They’re squaring everything up — everything’s hit hard.”
It’s been a rough haul for BYU since taking a lead into the seventh inning against USD on Thursday, including a Friday defeat that, despite the aforementioned nice play, was mostly a forgettable night for the home team.
USD scored five runs in the first inning, even hitting for the cycle as a team. That included a leadoff home run, a two-run triple and a line-drive single off the third baseman’s leather.
BYU, though out-hit 18-7, wasn’t devoid of highlight plays.
Starting pitcher Marc Oslund trailed 1-0, but kept it at that by patiently making a nice throw to home plate for a tag out after slipping during a squeeze play as he fielded a bunt.
Centerfielder Stephen Wells robbed USD of a run in the third inning with a diving catch.
The Cougars still showed some hop by turning a double play to end the eighth, then stringing together a couple of hits (including an RBI double by James Lengal) in their half of hitting.
Law was optimistic of the Cougars’ move to the WCC, also feeling his team could compete favorably right away. He thought USD might be the favorite.
BYU picked a bad time to hit a rough patch. The Cougars (18-20, 7-7 WCC) have lost four in a row and 8-of-9.
They are 1-4 against WCC teams (counting a trip to San Francisco a week ago) in this drought, which also includes defeats to Utah Valley, Utah and a tough 10-9 loss at nationally ranked Stanford on April 24. The Cougars have fallen more behind USD (35-11, 12-5) after appearing to have a chance when the weekend started to chase the program’s first league title since 2001.
USD added a home run in the second and a sacrifice fly in the fourth to extend its lead to 7-0, amassing nine hits while the Cougars had one.
A nice crowd of nearly 1,300 watched the Cougars get three consecutive hits (Nos. 2-4) to start the sixth. That included cutting USD’s lead to 10-1.
But the trend these days is good things do not last long for BYU. It led, 7-6, entering the seventh inning on Thursday before melting down. It had three straight outs following that three-hit sequence.
And it’s been a 21-2 scoring binge by USD since that rally.
The teams meet again at noon Saturday to finish the series.
“Try to preach perseverance,” Law said of getting the Cougars back on track. “We’ve got to try and keep these guys’ spirits up, but I think we’ll come out and play hard (Saturday).”