SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- There will be no postseason for the Saint Mary's baseball team, no games to look forward to past this weekend.
But that doesn't mean the Gaels are even close to done with the 2014 season.
Connor Hornsby capped a stirring ninth-inning rally Friday at Santa Clara with one of the biggest hits of the Gaels season, lining a two-out, two-run single to right that gave Saint Mary's the lead and eventually a 6-3 win over the rival Broncos.
Trailing 3-2 heading to the top of the ninth and facing Santa Clara closer Reece Karalus, Saint Mary's got its rally started with a single to left off the bat of Darian Ramage. Ricky Boas worked a walk and the Gaels tied the score when Karalus threw Michael Valentin's sacrifice bunt into right field for an error. Ramage scored to knot the score at 3-all.
Karalus looked poised to work out of the jam with a groundout and a strikeout but Hornsby was the man for the job. He got a pitch he liked and lined it to right, scoring Boas and Valentin to put Saint Mary's (16-37, 8-17 West Coast Conference) ahead. Collin Ferguson added an RBI double for good measure and the Gaels took a 6-3 lead to the bottom of the ninth.
David Dellaserra took it from there, allowing just a single in the bottom of the ninth to preserve a victory he earned thanks to also working a scoreless eighth inning. The win is Dellaserra's first of the season.
"It's great. Of course we wished for a better year on the results end of things but, like I say after every win or loss, these guys continue to play," Saint Mary's coach Eric Valenzuela said. "They continue to try their best and try is a bad word but they continue to play and there's no quit in them. Most of the time, we play OK and they have more runs than us. That four spot came against probably one of the best closers in the conference. We get a big two-out golden, that's what we call it in our culture, two outs, guys in scoring position and a big knock for Hornsby coming off the bench so that's good to see.
"Those were two big zeroes at the end. Dellaserra's had a tough year. He was a weekend guy to start the season for us and then he gets banged up with an ankle strain and never got it back for a long time. It's great to see that at the end of the year. Hopefully we can gain on that throughout the weekend."
Saint Mary's made the first offensive mark on a scoreless game in the seventh thanks to one of the more clutch stretches of hitting the Gaels have turned in all season. Valentin got it started with a two-out single to left, then made his way to third when Nate Nolan lined his second double of the day into the left field corner.
That brought leadoff man DonAndre Clark to the plate and one of the WCC's hottest hitters delivered. He turned on a D.J. Zapata pitch and lined it into the left field corner, bringing both runners home before Clark cruised into second with Saint Mary's up 2-0.
Santa Clara bounced right back in the bottom of the inning with a walk, double and two-run double by Zach Looney to tie the score. A fielder's choice and a walk chased Saint Mary's starter Ryan Brockett from the game and Jose Vizcaino, Jr. flared a single to right off reliever Corbin Burnes to give Santa Clara a 3-2 lead.
A scoreless draw through sixth materialized due largely to the efforts of two very solid starting pitching performances. Brockett, making his final start as a Gael, worked 6 1/3 innings and allowed three runs on just four hits. He walked six and struck out four.
Nolan and Valentin led Saint Mary's offensively, combining for five of the Gaels' 11 hits. Santa Clara (24-28, 14-11) had just six hits with six different hitters contributing one apiece.
"I thought that was big for the program," Hornsby said. "Especially towards the end of the year since we have been on quite a losing streak. For us to come out here and compete was huge."
Saint Mary's and Santa Clara return to the diamond on Saturday at 1 p.m. for the final game of their three-game series. Cameron Neff is the projected starter for the Gaels and Peter Hendron is slated to start for the Broncos. The series and season wraps up Sunday with a 1 p.m. first pitch.