SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Abraham Valdez's two-run homer in the ninth inning proved to be the difference for BYU, which defeated Santa Clara baseball, 3-1, on Saturday in the regular-season finale.
Valdez was involved in all the scoring for the Cougars (36-15, 19-8 West Coast Conference). Brian Hsu knocked him in with an RBI single in the second off starter Brandon Buckley, one of three pitchers used by Santa Clara.
With the score knotted at 1-all in the ninth and pinch runner Zack Peterson aboard against Bronco closer Eric Lex, Valdez sent a 1-0 offering over the left center field wall for his first-career home run.
Reid McLaughlin (7-1) picked up the win with two scoreless innings in relief of starter Justin Sterner who went seven and surrendered only five hits. Neither hurler issue a walk to the Broncos (12-40, 5-22).
The pitching took over from there.
BYU faced only batter above the minimum from the third through eighth innings.
Keegan McCarville, who pitched 3 2/3 innings of one-hit relief, retired 11 of 12 BYU batters and 17 of 18 for the series.
Lex (0-1) tossed two innings of relief and surrendered a pair of hits. He entered the game with a microscopic 0.39 ERA.
The Cougars, who won two of three in the series, will head to the four-team WCC tournament, which begins on Thursday in Stockton, California. They are currently alone atop the standings, but second-place Gonzaga has two games remaining and can tie BYU.