BYU baseball jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back in an 8-5 win over No. 26 ranked Arizona State Tuesday afternoon at Miller Park.
Junior outfielder Cole Gambill ignited a struggling Cougar offense by driving in four runs with a double and a pair of home runs.
“It was a good win for us, a marquee win for our season,” said BYU head coach Mike Littlewood. “I felt like today we came out with a lot of confidence and a lot of calmness. It was really nice to see from this group of guys. They came out ready and put the ball in play with authority.”
BYU (13-23, 6-9) scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning with RBIs from Gambill, Jacob Wilk and Abraham Valdez. Mitch McIntyre led off the frame with a walk and advanced to third on a passed ball and a throwing error from the Sun Devils’ catcher before Andrew Pintar was hit by a pitch. With runners on the corners, Gambill doubled with a line drive deep to right center field to drive in both McIntyre and Pintar.
The next batter, Wilk, then sent Gambill home on the first pitch of his at-bat with a single up the middle. Wilk advanced to second after Hayden Leatham was hit in the helmet by a pitch then scored off a Valdez double down the third-base line to put the Cougars up 4-0.
Gambill launched a solo shot well over the right field wall in the bottom of the second, extending BYU’s advantage to 5-0. Arizona State (22-14, 10-8) got on the board in the top of the third inning with a sac fly to cut into the Cougars’ lead, 5-1.
Gambill hit his second solo shot of the game to right in the bottom of the fifth, giving BYU a 6-1 advantage. In the top of the sixth frame, a three-run Sun Devil homerun to right field brought Arizona State within two, 6-4.
The Cougars extended their lead to 8-4 in the bottom of the sixth, as McIntyre and Peyton Cole each recorded an RBI. Valdez singled to left to lead off the frame before Brock Watkins doubled down the line in right field. McIntyre then singled up the middle to drive Valdez home. The next batter, Cole, hit into a double play but scored Watkins from third.
The Sun Devils added a run in the eighth with an RBI single to cut their deficit to three, 8-5.
Arizona State threatened in the top of the ninth with runners on first and second and with no outs. BYU closer Reid McLaughlin and the Cougar defense held their ground; however, retiring the final three batters to secure the 8-5 win.
McLaughlin recorded the save, striking out one and giving up a single hit in 1.2 innings pitched. BYU starter Bryce Robison got the win after giving up just one earned run in 11 batters faced through three innings on the mound.
The Cougars are back at Miller Park this Thursday through Saturday with a three-game series against WCC foe Saint Mary’s. The Thursday and Friday matchups are slated to start at 6 p.m. while Saturday’s contest will begin at 1 p.m.