MORAGA, Calif. — A berth in the postseason hangs in the balance this weekend for the Saint Mary's baseball team, as the Gaels host Bay Area rival Santa Clara on Senior Weekend while seeking a spot in next week's WCC Championship Tournament.
The Gaels (34-18, 15-9 WCC) enter their final WCC series in a tie with San Diego for the fourth and final spot in the WCC Tournament, while also trailing second place Gonzaga and Loyola Marymount by two games. If the Gaels sweep the Broncos (13-36, 9-15 WCC), they will automatically clinch a spot in the tournament, as they hold the tiebreaker over San Diego. Should Santa Clara win any games in this weekend's series, the Gaels will need San Diego to lose an equal amount, or Gonzaga to lose two more than them (SMC also holds the season tiebreaker over the Bulldogs).
The series begins Friday at 3 p.m. Saturday's game two starts at 1 p.m. Sunday marks Senior Day for six Gaels – Vince Braman, Cameron Neff, Bryce Reichmann, Jake Valdez, Johnny York and student manager Andrew Koumelis. Sunday's series finale starts at 1 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase on SMCGaels.com or by calling the SMC Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx. All three games will be streamed live on the Gaels' Gameday Central page.
Friday: RHP Grant Nechak (2-6, 4.75 ERA) vs. LHP Johnny York (5-3, 3.79 ERA
Saturday: RHP Jacob Steffens (4-6, 4.66 ERA) vs. RHP Jake Valdez (4-2, 3.58 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Eric Lex (3-8, 4.32 ERA) vs. RHP Drew Strotman (5-1, 4.66 ERA)
ABOUT SANTA CLARA
The Broncos (13-367, 9-15 WCC) have won two of their last three WCC series, including sweeping Pepperdine in their last conference road series on April 28-30. Santa Clara is just 5-11 on the road this year including its three wins in Malibu. It dropped a 15-9 decision at home versus No. 10 Stanford on Wednesday. SCU is 1-4 this season against shared non-conference opponents with Saint Mary's (Washington, San Jose State).
Santa Clara is among the WCC's top-five in home runs (3rd, 44) and slugging percentage (5th, .397). John Cresto is the team's leading slugger with 11 home runs and a .570 slugging percentage. Jake Brodt leads the Broncos with a .332 batting average and 33 RBIs. Santa Clara owns a 6.20 team ERA – worst in the WCC – with eight pitchers carrying ERAs over 6.85.
GAELS GETTING HOT
Saint Mary's is picking up steam at the end of the year, having won six of its last seven games, 10 of its last 15 and four straight WCC series. On Monday the Gaels closed regular season non-conference action with a 12-4 drubbing of No. 13 Cal State Fullerton on the road. Everything has been working for SMC. The team has had 29 extra-base hits in nine games this month, allowed four or less earned runs in seven straight games and have committed no more than one error in 10 of its last 12 games.
Should they qualify, the Gaels will begin play in the WCC Championship Tournament at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton on May 25, with day two and three of the tournament on May 26 and 27. Tickets are available for purchase on the Stockton Ports team website.
SUPPORT THE GAELS
A gift to the Gael Athletic Fund directly benefits Saint Mary's student-athletes, allowing them the opportunity to attain an education guided by our Catholic, Lasallian and Liberal Arts traditions. Click the link for more information.
FOLLOW THE GAELS
@SMCGaels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) SMC_Gaels (Snapchat)