SAN FRANCISCO — A pitchers’ duel came all the way down to the 14th inning Saturday, where the Saint Mary’s baseball team’s Andrew Shebloski delivered the eventual game-winning hit to clinch a West Coast Conference series victory for the Gaels with a 2-1 win over San Francisco at Benedetti Diamond.
Shebloski’s go-ahead hit came with two outs in the 14th. He sent an 0-1 pitch from Benji Post (4-2) right back up the middle to score Brett Rasso and give SMC (20-10, 5-3 WCC) the 2-1 lead. Rasso started the go-ahead rally with a walk and scored the go-ahead run after going 4 for 4 and scoring three of their five runs on Friday.
But Rasso wouldn’t have even been standing at second if it wasn’t for a botched double play attempt by the Dons (14-17, 2-9 WCC) two batters before Shebloski’s hit. Edward Haus grounded back to Post on the mound for what looked to be an inning-ending double play. But when he turned to throw to second, both USF middle infielders converged on the bag. That meant neither one of them put out Rasso, and second baseman Michael Perri had to settle for getting Haus at first.
The game was a dead-heat pitchers’ duel all afternoon. SMC’s Ken Waldichuk (2-1) shined brightest in relief after strong outings by both starters. Waldichuk threw five shutout innings – all in extras – and struck out a season-high nine with no walks and just two hits. He struck out the side in the bottom of the 14th to put an accent on the win.
Saint Mary’s starter Johnny York tied a season-high with eight strikeouts and allowed just one run on six scattered hits in 7 2/3 innings. USF’s Thomas Ponticelli was throwing a one-hitter through 7 1/3 but was pulled in the eighth inning. The Gaels would rally to tie the game in that same inning against new reliever Joey Carney.
San Francisco took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth on a two-out RBI single by Ross Puskarich. The entire sequence in the bottom of the sixth that gave San Francisco its only run was full of last chances. Nico Giarratano, who scored on Puskarich’s single, led off the inning with a walk but only after facing a full count. The Dons were down to their last out when Puskarich brought home the run, and Puskarich was down to his last strike in the at-bat, facing a 1-2 count. Small ball put Giarratano in position to score via a wild pitch and a groundout.
The series concludes Sunday with first pitch slated for 1 p.m. Saint Mary’s right-hander Drew Strotman (3-0, 4.23 ERA) is scheduled to throw against San Francisco righty Daniel Slominski (1-3, 3.80 ERA).
SUPPORT THE GAELS
A gift to the Gael Athletic Fund directly benefits Saint Mary's student-athletes, allowing them the opportunity to attain an education guided by our Catholic, Lasallian and Liberal Arts traditions. Click the link for more information.
FOLLOW THE GAELS
@SMCGaels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) SMC_Gaels (Snapchat)