MORAGA, Calif. -- Saint Mary's baseball coach Eric Valenzuela could've picked from several positive adjectives in the moments following the Gaels' 10-3 win over BYU on Thursday at Louis Guisto Field.
He could have cited the 16 hits his team collected, or cited yet another solid showing by left-hander Ryan Brockett.
Instead, the little things drew Valenzuela's heaviest praise.
"I told them I thought this was the best game of the year that we've played," Valenzuela said. "On the mound, Brockett wasn't at his best but found a way. That's what he does, he's a grinder. More than the hits, it was the execution. We had some opportunities we didn't execute but I'm proud of these guys and the way they executed. Bunting, hit and runs, sac flies. (Collin) Ferguson, even though we got thrown out at home when (Connor) Hornsby didn't slide, it was a perfect ball in dirt read. The guy picked it and threw to second and stopped. We did everything right and that run should've scored. We played the game of baseball right today. I'm fired up for these guys."
The execution Valenzuela talked about didn't just happen on the basepaths and in the bunt game. Anthony Gonsolin provided a perfect example of that in the first inning, going down 0-2 to begin the game, then fighting off two good pitches from BYU starter Desmond Poulson to stay alive. Gonsolin eventually worked back into the count and lined a double to left-center to start the game.
Ferguson led the charge, collecting a season-high four hits for the Gaels, who led 2-1 through four innings thanks to a two-run first inning. Ian McLoughlin and Ricky Boas drove in runs in that first inning, putting Saint Mary's (12-12, 4-0 WCC) in front.
Saint Mary's did the bulk of its damage in the later innings. The Gaels scored three in the sixth, two in the seventh and three in the eighth to take command, backing another good performance by Brockett. The left-hander allowed three runs and seven hits in 7 2/3 innings, striking out four in the effort.
"The key to success on offense is executing your plays, hit and runs, bunting guys into scoring position, especially with the bats now," Ferguson said. "I think we're executing well, driving in runs and taking advantage of our opportunities."
Jake Valdez finished off the eighth inning and Corbin Burnes came in to pitch the ninth for the Gaels, striking out two in his most effective performance of the season to date. Dillon Robinson led BYU (9-18, 1-6) with three hits.
Every position player had a hit for Saint Mary's, with Gonsolin pushing his average to .365 with a 3-for-5 day. He also scored three runs. McLoughlin and Villa each had two hits as well. Saint Mary's and BYU return to the diamond Friday for a doubleheader beginning at noon. The second game will be broadcast live by TheW.tv while the first will be available, as always, via the Gaels Live player on SMCGaels.com.