STOCKTON, Calif. — The Saint Mary's baseball team took an early lead for the second straight day Friday, but power hitting once again made the difference as BYU hit four home runs to win 8-4 and eliminate SMC from the 2017 West Coast Conference Tournament at Banner Island Ballpark.
Bronson Larsen hit two two-run home runs, Brock Hale added a two-run shot and Nate Favero hit a solo homer for the Cougars (34-19). Larsen's first two-run bomb in the second inning tied the game at 2-2 after Saint Mary's (37-20) had taken a 2-0 lead in the first. His second two-run homer came in the fourth and gave BYU a 4-2 lead. Favero's solo shot two batters later made it 5-2. Hale's two-run home run in the sixth gave the Cougars their largest lead at 7-2.
The Gaels were not without their chances Friday. They stranded 13 runners on base for the second straight day, including eight in scoring position. SMC had two or more runners on base in each of the first four innings, but only scored the two runs in the first on a two-run double by Kevin Milam. The team hit just .154 (2 for 13) with runners in scoring position Friday.
Joey Fiske and Milam both had multi-hit games that included two-run doubles. Fiske went 3 for 5 with two doubles. He drove home two runs in the eighth to cut the deficit to 7-4, but he was stranded at second base. Brett Rasso went 2 for 5 to finish the tournament hitting .500 (5 for 10) with a double, stolen base and three runs scored.
The 2017 season was another successful one for Saint Mary's. The Gaels won 37 games – their most since a program-record 41 in 1977 – and qualified for their second straight WCC Tournament with an 18-9 mark in WCC play. Saint Mary's had wins over major programs Washington, Vanderbilt, California and Cal State Fullerton, as well as hosting the No. 1 team in the country, Oregon State, in March. The team had a conference-high eight players earn all-WCC accolades, including Kevin Milam being named the WCC Freshman of the Year. Six Gaels earned WCC all-academic honors.
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