MORAGA, Calif. - The Saint Mary's baseball team busted out
the big bats in the fifth inning to score a pair of runs and held on for the
2-1 win over UC Santa Barbara on Monday afternoon at Louis Guisto Field. With the win, head coach Jedd Soto earned his
200th career victory at Saint Mary's.
In the top of the fifth inning the Gaels and Gauchos were
tied 0-0 with both teams managing just one hit.
Patrick Wisdom changed that in a hurry crushing an 0-1 challenge
fastball over the left center field fence for his fifth home run of the season,
and 25th of his career, to put SMC up 1-0.
UC Santa Barbara's (21-18) starter Greg Mahle (1-3) settled
down to get Riley Heinzer out on a ground out to second before Donald Collins
extended the inning dropping down a gorgeous bunt down the third base line for
a single. Collins scored on the next
play, as Ricky Boas smashed a triple to deep right center field allowing Collins
to score easily.
The two runs would be enough as Saint Mary's (19-19) got a
tremendous relief pitching performance from Jordan Mills (4-3) who entered the
game for SMC in the top of the third and threw five innings of one run
ball. Mills allowed three hits, with
four walks and four strike outs throwing 76 pitches for the afternoon.
The Gauchos cut the Gaels lead to one, scoring a run in the
top of the eighth inning when an error by Chris Murphy allowed Brandon Trinkwon
to reach second to lead off the inning.
Mills then walked Joey Wallace to put two runners on with no outs. Soto then turned to the bull pen using three
pitchers to get out of the inning.
Thomas Cortese took the ball first and promptly got the first out of the
inning getting Marc Venning to ground out on a sacrifice bunt, allowing Wallace
and Trinkwon to advance 90 feet.
With a lefty coming to the plate, Soto turned the ball over
to Ryan Brockett, who struggled to find the strike zone and walked Mahle, who
remained in the game as the designated hitter, on four pitches. With the bases loaded and one out, Soto once
again went to the pen, this time calling freshman Tanner Kichler who got Ryan
Palermo to fly out to right field, scoring Trinkwon from third. Kichler go the Gaels out of the jam getting
the next batter, Joe Lent to fly out to right field for the final out.
Kichler came back out for a 1-2-3 ninth inning to earn his first
collegiate save; he went 1.2 innings and did not allow a hit or a run while
striking out one.
Defensively, the Gaels looked sharp, Wisdom made several
tough defensive plays, but none better than his play to start the top of the
fourth inning. Leadoff hitter Brett
Vertigan hit a sharp ground ball towards the left side of the infield; Wisdom
dove to his left snatching the ball and threw a dart to first for the out. In the fifth inning, Vertigan was once again
the victim of a great defensive play.
With two outs, he singled to right field, after rounding the base hard,
Brenden Kalfus came up throwing to first and Greg Ditmer applied the tag for
the 9-3 put out the end the inning.
The Gaels scored two runs on six hits during the day, with
Kalfus going 2-for-4, Boas went 1-for-3 with an RBI, and Ditmer went 1-for-2,
while Wisdom and Collins had the other hits.
The at bat of the day might have been Boas' walk in third. With two outs, the Gaels leadoff hitter
battled through a 15 pitch at bat to eventually draw a walk.
Soto becomes just the second head coach in Saint Mary's
history to eclipse the 200 win plateau; he joins Miles McAffee (1973-1980) who
won 215 games during his tenure in Moraga.
The Gaels will return to action on Friday when they head to
Santa Clara to begin a three-game West Coast Conference series starting at 6:00
p.m. at Schott Stadium.