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Momentum boost: BYU baseball shuts out Utah, 7-0

By Darnell Dickson - | Mar 14, 2023
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BYU's Ozzie Pratt slides headfirst into home plate to score a run against Utah in a college baseball game at Miller Field in Provo on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.
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BYU's Mason Olson throws a pitch against Utah in a college baseball game at Miller Field in Provo on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.
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BYU first baseman Jacob Wilk (35) makes a play to get Utah's Cameron Gurney out during a college baseball game at Miller Field in Provo on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.

BYU’s 7-0 shutout of Utah on Tuesday is kind of hard to explain.

Maybe the Cougars were fed up after losing nine of their past 11 games. Maybe it was following the lead of lefty starter Mason Olson (Spanish Fork alum) and they were simply glad to be closer to home after playing the bulk of the preseason schedule on the road.

Whatever the reason, the baseball game BYU snuck in before an evening rainstorm was as complete and focused as it had played this season.

“I think we all complicate the game,” Cougar coach Trent Pratt said, “but it’s really simple, though. It’s throw strikes, play catch, get a big hit and run the bases well. If you build on those things you have really good chance but it’s easier said than done. Baseball is a hard game.”

It wasn’t hard for BYU on Tuesday.

Olson, whose been working well out of the bullpen for the Cougars, pitched four innings of hitless ball to get his team off to a great start.

” I felt like I was just locating better,” Olson said. “The defense helped me out a lot, so thank goodness for them. We’ve got a lot of inexperienced guys right now (on the pitching staff) so the more playing time we get and the more innings we get, we’ll pitch like we did today.”

Olson was the first of six BYU pitchers — along with Carter Smith, Cutter Clawson, Ben Hansen, Boston Mabeus and Jake Porter — who throttled Utah hitters all afternoon. The Utes managed just one hit, a single by TJ Clarkson in the sixth inning. Utah actually had four more base runners (from a walk and three hit batsmen) but didn’t get a runner past second base. The Cougars also played errorless ball for only the second time in the past nine games.

“Mason was unbelievable,” Pratt said. “We’ve been waiting for him to go out and do that. That’s why we need him to start. He’s been really consistent out of the pen. We wanted to give him 30 or 40 pitches to see how long he could go and he gave us four inning. So you couldn’t ask for a better start. We played good defense and we didn’t give them extra chances.”

BYU took an early 1-0 lead when Ozzie Pratt double and Austin Deming’s fly ball brought him home in the bottom of the first. The Cougars added three runs in the third. Deming drove in another run with a single and Cole Gambill doubled off the right-field wall to drive in Pratt. Ryan Sepede’s sacrifice fly brought in Deming and the Cougars took a 4-0 lead after three.

Jacob Wilk hammered a solo home run to right in the sixth to push the BYU advantage to 5-0. In the eighth, Safea Mauai stroked a single through second base to score Gambill from third for a 6-0 lead.

Cooper Vest came through with a pinch-hit double off the wall in left to score pinch runner Dawsen Hall for the final margin.

The game was moved up two hours to get ahead of a predicted rainstorm. With Porter on the hill, Ozzie Pratt made a dazzling diving stop and got the final out in the top of the ninth.

Beating the Utes still feels pretty good for the Cougars as well.

“I love it,” Olson said. “I mean, I hate them, so it’s perfect.”

The two teams have split 32 games against each other since 2012.

BYU (5-10 overall) picked a good time to put together a strong performance. The Cougars open West Coast Conference play on Thursday at Loyola Marymount.

“We’ve been kind of up and down,” Coach Pratt said. “I think we’ve had good moments and bad moments. We’ve had some games where we’ve played seven good innings and lost the lead late. We’ve had some inexperienced guys on the mound and Brock Watkins (starting shortstop) is hurt, but some of the guys have stepped up. I’m proud that we’re playing hard and finding a way to get it done.”

Deming drove in two runs to lead BYU’s offensive attack, which also included two hits each from Gambill and Wilk. The Cougars logged their first shutout win since a 5-0 victory against Pacific on May 14 of last year, 20 games ago.


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