MORAGA, Calif. — Clutch hits in consecutive innings and shutdown relief pitching Thursday gave the Saint Mary’s baseball team an important 6-5 win over top-25 ranked Washington in the first of a four-game series at Louis Guisto Field.
Jackson Thoreson and Andrew Shebloski both came through for Saint Mary’s (3-0). Down 4-2 in the fifth, Thoreson hit a towering two-out, two-run home run to tie the game at 4-4. Zach Kirtley had drawn a two-out walk after falling behind 1-2 in the count, setting up Thoreson’s tying homer. One inning later, Shebloski singled on an 0-2 count in his first career at-bat, bringing home two runs and giving the Gaels the lead for good at 6-4.
Jake Valdez (1-0) threw three shutout innings of relief before Washington (2-2) finally got to him in the top of the ninth. A double and single brought the go-ahead run to the plate, forcing Valdez out of the game. Bryce Reichmann entered and got the important second out on a strikeout, but not after surrendering an RBI single to make it a one-run game at 6-5.
UW’s Joey Morgan then got a two-out single right back to the mound. That loaded the bases and brought up cleanup hitter John Naff, who already had two hits and an RBI in the game. Freshman Kevin Milam took the mound seeking his first career save, and on the very first pitch he threw, Naff grounded out to second base, ending the threat and the game.
Washington, ranked as high as No. 10 in Monday’s Baseball America poll, jumped on Saint Mary’s starter Cameron Neff in the top of the first inning. The Huskies scored three runs on five hits and grabbed an early 3-0 lead. The damage could have been worse, as the Huskies had the bases loaded with no outs and already three runs in. But the double play was Neff’s best friend Thursday, getting him out of the first inning jam and eliminating leadoff singles in both the second and fourth innings.
Three Gaels had multiple hits as the Gaels posted double-digit hits (10) for the third time in as many games this season. Charles Zaloumis had an RBI single in the bottom of the second to score the Gaels’ first run. He has had RBI base hits in all three of the Gaels’ games this year.
The series continues Friday at 2 p.m. Games three and four are scheduled for 1 p.m. starts on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Tickets are available for purchase on SMCGaels.com or by calling the SMC Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx. All games of the series will be streamed live on the Gaels’ Gameday Central page.
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