PROVO — A six-run first inning paved the way for BYU's 8-4 victory over San Diego State in the Cougars' baseball home-opener at Larry H. Miller Field on Thursday night.
With the win, BYU improves to 11-10 overall and 2-2 in the Mountain West Conference. The Aztecs drop to 6-16 on the year and 2-2 in league play.
Sophomore Taylor Cole picked up his third win of the season on the mound for the Cougars, going six innings and giving up two earned runs on five hits while striking out three and walking two. Leading the way at the plate was senior Ryan Bernal, who went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored. Freshman Jaycob Brugman also contributed with two hits and two RBIs.
"Well, it is nice to jump out to a lead, and it sure gives us a nice cushion for a starter," head coach Vance Law said. "We've had that twice in the last two ballgames and had nice two-out rallies. That's really big when you have a team that doesn't give up on their at-bats."
Bernal brought home junior Alex Wolfe on a double in the right-center gap to give the Cougars an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. After a walk to freshman Dillon Robinson, junior Wes Guenther singled home Bernal to add on to BYU's run total. Later in the inning, Robinson was brought home on a bases-loaded walk to junior Austin Hall.
After an early pitching change for the Aztecs in the first inning, Brugman hit the first pitch he saw to right field to bring home two more runs. Junior Stephen Wells came up for the second time in the inning and singled to right for another run to give the Cougars a 6-0 lead.
BYU's starting pitcher Cole hit two batters in the top of the fourth inning to help San Diego State pick up one run to make the score 6-2 in favor of the Cougars. An error by shortstop Andrew Law on a groundball hit by Aztec left fielder Tim Zier up the middle cost the Cougars another two runs to make it 6-4.
BYU would get the runs back quickly on back-to-back RBI singles from Wolfe and Bernal to extend BYU's lead to 8-4 in the bottom of the fourth inning.
"That tells you how resilient our hitters are," Cole said. "San Diego State is a good hitting team, and it shows how resilient our hitters are. Our guys really hit the ball well throughout the game, and I am really proud of them."
Junior Matthew Neil gave BYU two scoreless innings in relief to preserve the lead, and senior Justin Shutt struck out the side despite giving up a double in the ninth to secure the Cougars' victory.
BYU and SDSU play the second game of the three-game series today at 6 p.m. MT.