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BYU baseball: Striking out Cougars' Tanner Chauncey is a tough task

Published April 12, 2017 8:04 pm

BYU baseball • Infielder has struck out just five times in 112 at-bats this season.
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Provo • When it comes to the level of baseball at which he is currently playing, BYU infielder Tanner Chauncey is not close to his boyhood friend from Las Vegas, Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper.

But at least the Cougar senior can say he has struck out fewer times this season than Harper, despite having had 84 more at-bats prior to the Nationals' game Wednesday against St. Louis.

Chauncey has struck out five times in 112 at-bats and is No. 7 in the country on the "Toughest to Strike Out" list in NCAA baseball; Harper has struck out six times in 28 at-bats.

Of course, Harper is off to a fantastic start offensively in other areas, with a .393 batting average, two homers and eight RBIs.

"I haven't had a chance to text him about [Harper's hot start]," Chauncey said Tuesday after going 4 for 4 at the plate in BYU's 8-3 win over Utah Valley. "Last time I saw him was at his wedding in December. He's playing well so far. I will probably shoot him a text when the Nationals and Braves play [next Tuesday]. I am a huge Braves fan, so he gives me a hard time for that."

Chauncey is also playing well after a not-so-hot start. His batting average is up to .286 after it hovered below .250 for most of the season. Since a 3-for-5 effort in BYU's 11-6 win over Utah on March 28 that started his current nine-game hitting streak, Chauncey has been on a midseason tear.

"Once he realized he didn't have to do it all himself — I know that's what he was doing — it kind of just got him going," BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. "We had a talk before the Utah game, and I said, 'Clean slate, your season starts today. Just start being the hitter that you know you can be.' … It looks like he is just relaxed right now, and really having fun."

A senior, Chauncey hit third in the lineup most of his BYU career, but was moved to second a month ago when shortstop Daniel Schneeman got hot and Littlewood changed the order.

"I'm just not trying to do too much," Chauncey said. "I am a guy who is not going to hit a lot of home runs, but what I do well is just try to find the holes and work good at-bats. … I just go up there and battle and try to do what I can with two strikes and put the ball in play and find some holes."

Chauncey felt a tight hamstring while running out an infield single Tuesday against the Wolverines, but said he should be OK to play against Pepperdine on Thursday when the West Coast Conference-leading Cougars (18-12, 7-2) start a three-game series with the Waves (16-15, 5-4) at Miller Park.

He said he doesn't really follow the fewest strikeouts stat, but does take pride in being a tough out for pitchers.

"Guys are going to have to make a good pitch to strike me out," he said. "I am just going to battle, choke up on the bat, widen my stance, take shorter swings and try to put the ball in play. Good things happen when you do that."

Last month's game at Utah wasn't the first time Chauncey, the grandson of BYU basketball Hall of Famer Terry Tebbs, found success in Salt Lake City. A blind date with University of Utah law school student Lauren Martinez, a California native, resulted in their marriage last August.

"Yup, I'm married to a Ute," he said with a laugh. —

About Tanner Chauncey

• Selected in the 35th round of the 2014 MLB draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers while on a church mission in Brazil.

• Went 4 for 4 in Tuesday's 8-3 win over Utah Valley to extend his hitting streak to nine games.






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