BYU baseball turns tables 30 years later as underdog in Tempe

BY KEN DRIGGS, DESERET NEWS COUGAR BLOG GUEST BLOGGER

Newly hired BYU Baseball head coach Mike Littlewood instructs at a sports camp. BYU upset nationally-ranked ASU in Arizona Wednesday in preparation for the College World Series.

Newly hired BYU Baseball head coach Mike Littlewood instructs at a sports camp. BYU upset nationally-ranked ASU in Arizona Wednesday in preparation for the College World Series.

It was a hot early summer night in Tempe. The vaunted 1983 BYU baseball team was paired with a legendary college baseball program, Arizona State University, in the first round of the NCAA playoffs. Even though BYU came into the game as the No. 1 seed in the country, the first-round games were played at ASU’s home stadium.

BYU baseball had reached a pinnacle in its history. Gary Pullins had pulled together a great lineup, including four future major league players. First baseman Wally Joyner, shortstop Cory Snyder and pitchers Scott Neilsen and Rick Aguilera, who all had major league careers dotted with outstanding performances.

We went to the game with great anticipation. It is not very often that you can say “we’re number one” and have it actually be true. After the top of the second inning, we thought all of our aspirations would be fulfilled. BYU led 8-0 and was seemingly in command, but the wheels fell off and the Cougars lost to ASU 19-11. It was not only disappointing, but the chance for redemption was swept away the next day with a loss to Fresno State in a brutally hot daytime game.

Fast forward to 2013. BYU is in a rebuilding year, with a new coaching staff and having to win a series with St. Mary’s to make the WCC playoffs. ASU is nationally ranked and just lost a disappointing series to rival Arizona. This time as the distinct underdogs, the Cougars pulled off a solid upset over a talented ASU team, which should give BYU some momentum as the team heads for Stockton and a game with UC San Diego. This season has had some memorable moments, and here’s hoping for a few more.


Ken Driggs of Mesa, Ariz., is a BYU graduate and served as Cosmo in the ’60s. Contact him at kkdriggs@gmail.com

3 comments

  1. Daniel

    Mr Driggs-

    The cougars next opponent is the Toreros of the University of San Diego, a private Catholic school, not UC San Diego. Definitely should get the team right when they are the defending 4 time champions of the commissioners cup, the championship of the West Coast Conference that you are apart of…

  2. Bleed Blue

    I was at the ASU game, too, in 1983. It was a long, hot night in Arizona; never seen anything like it. Glad to hear an ounce of redemption came 30 years later.

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