OREM — Tanner Chauncey moved up one spot in the batting order and that slight change is helping him find his role as the catalyst for BYU’s offense.
Chauncey is ranked as the ninth toughest hitter in the nation and his philosophy of putting the ball in play has helped the Cougars catch fire.
Tuesday night Chauncey went 4-for-4 to lead the Cougars to an 8-3 win over Utah Valley University in what was billed as the UCCU Crosstown Clash.
BYU has now won four straight games and seven of its last eight games.
“I think once Tanner realized that he didn’t have to do it all himself and I know that’s what he was doing, things changed,” said BYU coach Mike Littlewood. “We had a talk before the Utah game and I just told him to relax and go out and have some fun, to start being the hitter that I know he can be. It looks like he’s relaxed right now.”
BYU got it going in the first inning when Brennon Anderson singled. He stole second and scored when Tanner Chauncey singled up the middle. Chauncey moved to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on a pitch that was in the dirt. Chauncey then scored on a sacrifice fly from Daniel Schneemann.
BYU came back for more in the second. David Clawson hit a 3-run bomb to right-center that tagged the video scoreboard. Keaton Kringlen then added an RBI single in the inning that put the Cougars up 6-0.
UVU couldn’t get anything going off BYU starter Jordan Wood until the Wolverines finally made some noise in the bottom of the sixth and it started at the top of the order. Trevor Peterson drew a lead-off walk. Trevor Howell followed with a single and the runners moved into scoring position on a passed ball. Zac Willis got the Wolverines on the board with a sacrifice fly to right. Jackson Overlund then tripled in with a shot to center.
BYU called on Bo Burrup to put out the fire. He got Jake Berry to ground out to second but it allowed Overlund to score that made the score 6-3.
BYU answered in the top of the seventh. Kringlen tripled to right-center and Bronson Larsen then delivered a hot smash that went off UVU third baseman Kade Poulsen.
The Cougars then flashed some leather to tame a UVU rally in the eighth. Trevor Howell picked up his fourth hit of the game to lead off the inning. Willis then crushed a pitch to center that was tracking for extra bases but Kyle Dean made a sensational over-the-should catch in the warning track that killed the rally.
BYU put the game away with a run in the ninth. Kringlen led off the ninth with a single and Larsen walked. The runners advanced on a wild pitch. Dean then hit a ball to right field that was just deep enough for Kringlen to beat the throw home.
“I was struggling at the beginning of the year. Coach put me to second and that gave me an opportunity to have quality at-bats without having to press,” Chauncey said. “It’s helped me get back to that mentality of just trying to do my job and not try and do too much.”
The two teams will meet again on May 2 in Orem and will conclude their three-game series on May 16 in Provo.
The Cougars will now gear up to host Pepperdine for a three-game series beginning on Thursday night at 6 p.m. BYU leads the West Coast Conference with a 7-2 record and is now 18-12 overall.
UVU dropped to 11-20. The Wolverines are 4-2 in the WAC and will now travel to CSU Bakersfield for a three-game series beginning on Thursday.
“I felt like our guys had some chances to knock in some runs but we didn’t do it,” said UVU coach Eric Madsen. “It’s disappointing the way we played but give BYU credit, they hit the ball well.”