MALIBU, Calif. — This time the marathon match went the Saint Mary's baseball team's way, as the Gaels outlasted host Pepperdine Sunday in 15 innings to win 5-4 and clinch an important West Coast Conference victory at Eddy D. Field Stadium.
Saint Mary's (33-18, 15-9 WCC) scored three times in the ninth inning to erase a 4-1 deficit send it to extras for the second straight day. The win moved the Gaels into a tie with San Diego for the fourth and final spot in the WCC Tournament. Saint Mary's owns the tiebreaker over the Toreros with three games left to play in the regular season.
Pepperdine (20-29, 8-16 WCC) evened the series Saturday with a walk-off win in 14 innings, but couldn't do the same Sunday despite having runners in scoring position with less than two outs in each of the ninth, 10th, 11th and 14th. It also had a runner in scoring position in the 12th to make it five times in seven walkoff opportunities.
Joe Vranesh and Gaels capitalized on the Waves' ill-timed mistakes to both tie the game and win it. After Zach Kirtley's leadoff home run in the ninth, the Gaels had the tying runs in scoring position but were down to their last out. Vranesh hit a hard groundball to third base, but Pepperdine's Saul Sandoval-Estrada threw the ball low to first, allowing Vranesh to reach safely and both runners to score and tie the game.
In the top of the 15th it was Vranesh again, this time reaching safely on an error to lead off the frame. Logan Steinberg bunted him over to second, and Joey Fiske – who extended his hit streak to nine games with two hits – singled him home for the eventual winning run.
Ken Waldichuk (3-3) was excellent in extra-innings relief for the second time this season. He threw 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball, only allowing three hits. Kevin Milam threw 3 1/3 innings of relief, allowing one run, and Ty Madrigal earned a save with a 1-2-3 15th.
Eddie Haus went 2 for 5 with a double and two runs scored. Vranesh also had two hits to give the Gaels three multi-hit performances on the day.
Saint Mary's travels to No. 14/15 Cal State Fullerton on Monday for its final non-conference game of the regular season. It returns home to host Santa Clara for senior weekend in the final WCC series of the year, starting Friday. Tickets are available for purchase on SMCGaels.com or by calling the SMC Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx.
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