SALT LAKE CITY — Utah saved its best for last in Tuesday’s 5-4 win over BYU at Smith’s Ballpark. The Utes battled back from two runs down in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat the Cougars in dramatic fashion.
Senior third baseman Biss Larsen, who entered the game with a .170 batting average and was 0 for 3 on the night, hit a walk-off single for the Utes.
“That’s got to cap my baseball career. I’ve been a college baseball player four years now and that’s actually the first walk-off of my life,” said Larsen, who was Utah's No. 9 hitter. “I couldn’t pick a better team to do it with and a better opponent to do it against.”
Larsen noted that the Utes were confident they could come out and get things done in the final inning.
“It was kind of appropriate tonight with our seniors,” said Utah coach Bill Kinneberg. “They were the key guys for this ballgame.”
The Utes and Cougars wound up splitting their four-game series this season.
“You can’t expect anything less than a one-run game with BYU. That’s the way it generally is,” Kinneberg said. “What a great ballgame, played very well by both teams. Luckily we had the last at-bat.”
BYU (19-31) jumped out to a 2-0 lead by scoring runs in the second and fifth innings. Jarrett Jarvis put the Cougars on the board with a two-out RBI single, bringing home Kelton Caldwell, who had reached on a double. Eric Urry scored the other run after hitting a double and crossing the plate on a sacrifice fly by Trace Hansen.
Utah (16-30) pulled even with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Konnor Armijo followed a double by T.J. Bennett with a homer to knot things up.
The tie, though, didn’t last long. BYU regained the lead in the seventh when Jarvis scored on a groundout by Brennon Lund with one out. Jarvis was hit by a pitch, advanced to second on a single and moved to third on a walk before making it a 3-2 game.
The Cougars added another score in the ninth when Urry and Hansen led off with back-to-back doubles.
It wasn’t enough, however, to seal the outcome.
Trailing 4-2, the Utes rallied in the bottom of the ninth for the win. They cut the deficit in half when a single by A.J. Young drove in Bennett, who led off with a double. The play left runners on second and first for Cory Hunt, who smacked a run-scoring double to tie it up at 4-4.
That brought up Larsen, whose walk-off single off BYU reliever Brandon Kinser was followed by a postgame celebration by the Utes.
“We didn’t expect to get three outs really easy in the ninth inning. Those guys are going to battle just like we are for nine innings,” said BYU coach Mike Littlewood. “Obviously, we wish we were on top, but it was a well-played game I thought.”
Both teams return to action later this week.
BYU closes out the season with a three-game series at Portland on Thursday.
Utah, meanwhile, heads to Arizona State for a three-game series beginning Friday. The Utes conclude their season May 23-25 at home against Stanford.
GAME NOTES: The attendance was 3,800. ... BYU now leads the all-time series, 238-112-2. The Cougars hold an 8-6 edge since both teams left the Mountain West Conference following the 2010 season. ... Although they lost the baseball portion of the Deseret First Duel competition on a tiebreaker based on runs scored, the Utes won the overall title for the 2013-14 sports award by a margin of 41-9.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @DirkFacer
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company