The list of good things that happened to the BYU baseball team against Portland on Thursday goes like this: 1) The Cougars scored five runs in the first inning and 2) righty ace Jordan Wood was on the mound.
A short list, but not much else is needed.
BYU eased to a 10-1 victory at Miller Field with Wood in complete control on the hill. The senior right-hander, who came into the game with a 1.76 ERA, went eight innings and allowed eight hits and one earned run while striking out six to move to 3-0 this season.
“If there’s one guy you want on the mound whatever the score is, it’s Jordan,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “He’s just a bulldog out there. For the most part he had three pitches working. His curve ball wasn’t great, but his slider, change and fastball were good tonight. His fastball hit 93 (mph) eight to 10 times tonight. He had a really good fastball and he was locating his fastball. When got into a jam here and there, he made pitches.”
In terms of offense, the Cougars got all they would need in the bottom of the first inning.
Portland starter Kevin Baker had control issues to start the game, giving up a single to Bryan Call, walking Brock Hale and hitting Jackson Cluff to load the bases with one out. Freshman Austin Demming walked to bring in the first run and Mitch McIntyre followed with a bases-clearing double for a 4-0 lead. The Cougars chased Barker after just six batters. Portland reliever Morgan White walked Keaton Kringlen and Noah Hill followed with a bloop single to score McIntyre for a 5-0 advantage.
“I say this all the time and it sounds simplified, but we took balls and swung at strikes,” Littlewood said. “It was huge for us to be able to put good swings on pitches we could handle and not go out of the zone.”
With Wood completely on his game, BYU continued to add runs with two in the second on RBI singles from Cluff and Kringlen, two in the fifth when Cluff and Brian Hsu came through with RBI hits and one in the seventh on a wild pitch.
Coming off a crazy 14-13 extra-inning win at Utah Valley, Littlewood was pleased to see his team get the big lead and hold on against the Pilots.
“I think we learned a little bit Tuesday night against Utah Valley,” he said. “We got up seven runs and lost that lead then got up another six runs and lost that lead, so the feeling in the dugout (Thursday) was a little bit different.
“With league games when you’re up that much it doesn’t feel like you’re up that much. It feels like it’s a two-run ball game when you’re up 10-1. When you get two outs in the ninth with a nine-run lead you feel a little more comfortable.”
Portland’s pitching staff had control problems all night. Baker, Morgan White, Brett Gillis and Connor White combined to hit five batters and issued nine walks and two wild pitches for the Pilots (1-3 WCC, 15-7 overall.)
Call, Hale and Cluff all had two hits apiece for BYU (2-2, 15-5).
The same teams will meet at 6 p.m. Friday for Game 2 of the series with sophomore Easton Walker pitching for the Cougars.