PROVO, Utah – Freshman Ty Saunders hit an RBI single in the top of the ninth that gave the Portland Pilots a 7-6 victory over the BYU Cougars in a thrilling series finale in Provo. The win clinched the series for Portland, improving their record to 16-14 on the year and 8-4 in WCC play.
Eli Morse earned the win after coming on the mound in the eighth inning. He had two strikeouts with one walk and one hit allowed in 1.1 innings. Morse was one of five pitchers on the day for the Pilots.
Unlike last night, the offense was the star of the show for Portland. Nine of their 10 batters earned a hit today, with the Pilots tallying 14 hits as a team. Chad Stevens and Brett Gillis were the only two Pilots to record multiple hits on the day, going 4-for-5 and 3-for-3 respectively. The RBI single from Saunders came in his only at bat, as he came in as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning.
Both teams scored a combined 10 runs between the second and fourth inning. BYU got on the board first with two runs in the second inning. Hayden Leatham brought those two runs in with a double to left center, giving the Cougars a quick 2-0 lead.
The Pilots responded in the third. With Chad Stevens and Henery Muench on first and second, Ben Patacsil hit a moonshot over the center field wall for a three-run homer. But BYU retook the lead in the bottom of the inning, with Brock Watkins bringing home three Cougars with a double down the left field line to make it 5-3 BYU.
The frantic scoring continued in the fourth for the Pilots. Gillis made his way home off a wild pitch by Robison and Hunter Montgomery scored on the fielder’s choice, with Henry Muench hitting an infield grounder to force the decision. Portland’s two runs tied the game up at 5-5.
After a lull in scoring, the Pilots and Cougars would once again score in back-to-back innings. BYU struck first with an RBI single from McIntyre in the bottom of the seventh to give the Cougars the lead. But Portland tied it right back up in the very next inning, with Jake Holcroft bringing home Ethan Smith on the sacrifice fly. Holcroft’s sacrifice tied things up at six.
The winning run came in the final inning. With runners on first and third, Saunders stepped up to the plate and launched a single up the middle that brought home Sam Brown, giving Portland a 7-6 lead. That proved to be all that was needed, as the Pilots fended off the Cougars in the bottom of the inning and got out with a win.
The Pilots have a busy week ahead of them with a five-game homestand over six days starting on Tuesday, Apr. 13 with a rematch against the Washington Huskies. First pitch for that game is set for 5 p.m. with live stats and video available at PortlandPilots.com.