By: Alex Crook, SMCGaels.com Correspondent
MORAGA, Calif. — Jake Valdez struck out six Toreros batters in seven innings of work to silence USD's potent offense Saturday and the Gaels' lineup did its job to even the three-game series with an 8-1 win over San Diego at Louis Guisto Field.
“Jake pitched like a veteran,” Gaels head coach Eric Valenzuela said. “He knew where we were and was able to do so against a very offensive club, so I'm very proud of his performance today.”
The Saint Mary's bats jumped on USD early in game two as Kevin Milam, down to the Gaels' last pitch of the frame, started the scoring by roping the second of three consecutive doubles to right field. At the end of the rally, SMC saw itself three runs ahead of a napping Torero defense.
“It was nice to get those opening runs on San Diego because we know how that feels to have that done to us,” Milam said. “We fight until the last strike, the last out and that's what Coach V instills in us that we're never going to back down, we're never going to stop fighting.”
Valdez, who credits his six-strikeout performance to the scouting report, located his pitches well enough to mitigate a dangerous Torero offense.
“I had the ability to watch Friday's game and I knew what I needed to do,” Valdez said. “Our strategy was to pound away to them. I didn't work into them much, I just wanted to get my fastball away, get my slider away and because of it, I was able to get outs.”
The senior escaped jams in the first and third innings after the Toreros put two runners on base in each frame. Part of his escape was thanks to Jackson Thoreson throwing out a runner at second in the first. Valdez improved to 4-2 on the year and 3-0 when going at least seven innings.
Austin Chauvin continued his hot streak, going 2 for 4 with an RBI. Chauvin, who's now hitting .361, was one of five Gaels with an RBI on the day.
“When I get my pitch to hit,” Chauvin said, “I'm not missing it. It's felt really good to stay with the program and trust what I've been doing on and off the field.”
Saint Mary's took note to capitalize on scattered USD errors with two runs coming off two Torero errors in the fifth and sixth innings. Aside from the miscues, the Gaels made sure never to take their foot off the pedal.
“Capitalizing on mistakes is what most people do,” said Edward Haus, who lit up San Diego's pitching with a 3-for-4 day that included two RBIs and two doubles. “Whatever mistakes they make, you better capitalize and make it hurt. Today, we made it hurt.”
The series concludes Sunday with another 1 p.m. first pitch. Tickets are available for purchase on SMCGaels.com or by calling the SMC Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx. Saturday's matinee will be streamed live on SMCGaels.com.
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