A career-high eight strikeouts by Hayden Rogers was just what No. 26 BYU baseball needed in a 6-1 victory over Sacramento State on Friday. Junior Rogers (9-2) and senior tri-captain Tanner Chauncey lead the Cougars (38-20) to stay alive in the elimination bracket of the NCAA regional. It was the first win for BYU in a regional since it last appeared in 2002 with victories over Maine and Cal State Northridge in Los Angeles.
“Hayden Rogers gave us an incredible outing today,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “I felt totally comfortable giving him the ball. We knew he was throwing well. We just needed to get a couple runners on and see if we could get a hit. Tanner (Chauncey) came up big today.”
The Cougars eliminated the Hornets (32-29) from the tournament in an 18th come-from-behind victory this season.
“I felt like our guys grinded the game out today,” Littlewood said. “The feel in the first two innings didn't feel great. We felt a little bit anxious and I think every hitter felt like they needed to hit a five-run home run every time up. You could feel the pressure mounting.
BYU knotted the game when Colton Shaver scored on a one-out double by Brennon Anderson after being hit by a pitch to lead off the third inning.
Overcoming adversity was an early theme for the Cougars as that inning continued. Hsu, in the batting order for a flu-stricken David Clawson, singled before Anderson’s double and scored the go-ahead run on Daniel Schneemann’s deep sac-fly. Anderson, one of several Cougars shuttled to Sunken Diamond when the bus had a flat tire at the hotel, was driven across home plate by Chauncey’s single for a 3-1 lead.
Rogers nearly single-handedly exterminated the Hornets in order striking out two swinging and fielding a bunt in time to an outstretched Chauncey in the fourth. That time-released momentum surfaced in the sixth to a degree when BYU loaded the bases with no outs. Only one of a potential three runs scored as sac-fly opportunities failed twice, including an inning-ending double play with a 4-1 lead.
A scoring opportunity was foiled for Sac State in the bottom of the sixth with two on, as Schneemann turned an inning-ending double play. With the table set, Chauncey stroked a one-out double to the left field corner to plate Anderson and the fleet Schneemann from first for a 6-1 lead. Anderson had been hit by a pitch and was caught in a predicament when Schneemann’s shallow centerfield fly was caught and dropped, allowing both to reach base safely. Mason Marshall polished off the Western Athletic Conference-champion Hornets in the final 2.2 innings, replacing Rogers.
The Cougars live to play another day, facing the loser of the No. 8 Stanford and No. 17 Cal State Fullerton game on Saturday at 1 p.m. PDT, hoping for a doubleheader.