Huge hits, crucial pitches, costly mistakes, dramatic showdowns, shocking rallies — any baseball game that is tied at 13-13 going to extra innings is going to have a little of everything.
That was the case in Tuesday’s Crosstown Clash at UCCU Ballpark in Orem as neither UVU nor BYU could secure victory in regulation.
It came down to the team that made the last big play — and that, believe it or not, was done by a quarterback.
Cougar freshman Jaren Hall — who plays both football and baseball — stepped into the batter’s box for his first at-bat of the game with two outs and a runner on base in the top of the 10th inning.
But he made the most of the opportunity.
After a ball moved runner Brock Hale to second base, Hall hit the ball off the end of the bat and right up the middle for an RBI single. The Cougar defense then held in the Wolverine half of the inning to give BYU the dramatic 14-13 win.
"I don't know what to say about that game," Cougar head coach Mike Littlewood said. "We were up by seven runs early but in these in-state games, no one is ever going to quit. You toss out the records and keep playing. You have to play until you get 27 outs -- or 30 outs. We hung in there and ended up persevering."
Hall came into the game having gone 2-for-19 on the season but his third hit (and first career RBI) came at a timely moment as the Cougars defeated UVU for the eighth straight time. It’s the longest winning streak for either of the Utah Valley-based universities in the series.
"I'm happy for him," Littlewood said. "I know he's been putting in extra work. He was frustrated after Saturday's game where he didn't have a good day at the plate. But he is an athlete who find ways to get it done. I feel confident having him in there."
Because football practice lasted until around the same time the game started, Hall said he rushed straight from football to Orem for the baseball game, arriving in the third inning.
"I didn't even know he was there until the seventh when I started thinking about options and saw him at the end of the dugout," Littlewood said. "Then he went out and had the game-winning hit."
BYU appeared to be in the driver’s seat early in the game, getting big hits from Hale (2-for-5, 4 RBI, one home run) and freshman second baseman Bryan Call (2-for-5, 5 RBI, one home run) as the Cougars went up 9-2 after the top of the third inning.
But the Wolverines clawed back into the game, scoring four runs in the bottom of the third to narrow the gap.
After each team added another run — BYU getting one in the fourth and UVU getting one in the sixth — the Cougars once again extended the lead in the seventh.
A two-run single by Call was part of a three-run frame as BYU went up 13-7.
But the home team again had the answer, taking advantage of some timely hitting to score five runs in the seventh.
A Cougar error in the eighth allowed the Wolverines to get the tying run in position and UVU tied the game when a wild pitch allowed the runner from third to cross the plate.
It was the Wolverines that seized the initiative in the ninth, taking advantage of another BYU miscue to put the go-ahead run on second base with no outs.
As the inning evolved, UVU put two more players on base but also got two outs.
Wolverine designated hitter/first baseman Pacen Hayes stepped up to the plate and worked the count full, setting up a payoff pitch. But his swing failed to connect, sending the game to extra innings.
"We were in the dugout shaking our heads," Littlewood said. "I don't know if we threw a strike in the at-bat but he got him to swing through. This was the type of game you only see once every few years."
That set up Hall’s big hit that gave the Cougars (14-5) the win, while the Wolverines (3-17) continue looking for answers as they try to get on track.
BYU will return to West Coast Conference action on Thursday as they host Portland at Miller Park for a three-game set, while UVU heads to Seattle for a Western Athletic Conference battle starting on Friday.