By: Alex Crook, SMCGaels.com Correspondent
MORAGA, Calif. — The sun shined brightest on Saint Mary’s left-hander Johnny York Friday, as the senior southpaw led the Gaels to a series-tying 1-0 win over Loyola Marymount with a complete game shutout at Louis Guisto Field.
York (4-2) was cool and collected in his ninth start of the season with no runs and three strikeouts, going the distance for the first time this season and the third time in his Saint Mary’s career.
“Everything felt good and it has for a couple weeks now,” said York, who threw just 95 pitches and walked none in his nine innings. “I haven’t changed anything mechanically. I just focus on opposing batters and where their weaknesses are.”
Head coach Eric Valenzuela elatedly echoed his veteran’s emotions.
“When he’s at his best,” Valenzuela said, “that’s how his games look – early contact, getting batters out, getting them to pop balls up, getting quick innings and out of jams. His ball moves around all over.”
The Walnut Creek native, who allowed just one extra-base hit all afternoon, retired six of seven over a two-inning stretch. LMU threatened in back-to-back innings only to come up empty on both tries with the latter ending as Brett Rasso threw out the potential tying run at home from left field.
Valenzuela had the luxurious option of inserting closer Kevin Milam in the final frame to try and finish off the Lions, but steadfastly stuck with his trusty ace instead.
“We were staying with him unless it got ugly and out of hand, but we were going back with him.”
Ryan Novis went 1 for 3 in just his third start of the season, scoring the Gaels’ first and only run in the second inning on an RBI single through the left side to score Jackson Thoreson. Thoreson, who also went 1 for 3, extended his hit streak to five games with a double before coming home on Novis’ hit.
“Even if you aren’t starting or doing well,” Novis said, “you’re going to get your chance and you need to be ready to handle it when it’s your turn. It felt good to do my part today and help the team win.”
Novis, just a freshman, relished the opportunity to watch a seasoned veteran in York do what he’s done in his previous three years in Moraga.
“It’s amazing,” Novis lauded. “He’s a great leader by example in the clubhouse and he was shoving today. It was fun to watch. It gave us confidence at the plate. No matter what happened, he was going to have our backs.”
Saint Mary’s concludes its three-game series with Loyola Marymount Saturday afternoon with a 1 p.m. first pitch. Tickets can be purchased at SMCGaels.com and fans can tune into the action on SMCGaels.com.
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