Nine seniors will play their last home stand in a BYU uniform this weekend.
The Cougars — who lead the West Coast Conference with a 15-6 mark — host San Francisco for a three-game set beginning Thursday at Miller Park. BYU is in pretty good shape as the end of the regular season approaches in terms of qualifying for the WCC Tournament. The top four teams after conference play will advance to Stockton to play for the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
At No. 32 in the latest RPI, the Cougars would be a likely at-large team in the field if they don’t win the WCC Tournament.
“I don’t really listen to that chatter a lot because I’ve heard it for the past seven years,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “But our RPI has never been as good as this. We just need to win games. If we can be in the mid or high 30’s and get to the conference championship game, we’ll have a good shot at the NCAA.”
Littlewood estimates that two wins in the final six league games gets his team to the WCC Tournament while four wins in six games would earn the Cougars the conference title.
Senior Jordan Wood will get the start in Game 1 for BYU while classmates Brian Hsu, Noah Hill, Brock Hale, Casey Jacobsen and Keaton Kringlen will get plenty of opportunities at the plate and in the field to make a difference for the Cougars.
Wood is 4-2 this season with a 4.39 earned run average, generally facing the opponent’s ace in Game 1s. Hale leads BYU with a .341 average, adding 11 doubles, eight home runs and 33 RBI to his totals. Hsu is hitting .323 and Hill .322.
“The bar has been set by our older guys,” Littlewood said. “They’ve helped the younger guys understand that there are expectations. It’s not talent based, but it’s effort based and buy-in based. We say “All in” and if you’re not all in, you won’t survive.”
San Francisco (14-10, 27-22) is fighting for one of the four WCC Tournament positions. The Dons took two of three at home against Pepperdine last week but fell to Cal 10-5 on Tuesday. Last week, BYU last to the Bears 3-2 in California.
The Cougars (31-13) are ranked No. 25 in the latest Baseball America poll. BYU is also ranked No. 24 by Perfect Game.