NORTHRIDGE, Calif. — The Saint Mary’s baseball team excelled on the mound and at the plate Saturday in sweeping a non-conference doubleheader at CSUN, with a 10-0 blowout victory in the opener and a close 4-3 extra-innings win in the nightcap at Matador Field.
Saint Mary’s (13-6) hit five home runs in Saturday’s two games, including three in game one. The Gaels totaled 18 hits in the twin bill, nine for extra bases. Joe Vranesh hit home runs in both games, including a go-ahead solo shot in the top of the 10th. Meanwhile, SMC arms posted 16 shutout innings in the 19 played Saturday. The Saint Mary’s pitching core limited CSUN (11-9) to a .188 batting average on the day.
Saint Mary’s goes for the series victory in Sunday’s series finale at 1 p.m. Both teams’ starters are to be announced. Fans can find live video and stats coverage on SMCGaels.com.
Joey Fiske had a career game in the opener, and he got it started right away. Fiske led off the doubleheader with a solo home run in the first inning, giving SMC an early 1-0 lead. It was the junior’s first career home run, and one of his two extra-base hits in the game.
Fiske later tacked on four more RBIs to give him a career-high five in a 3 for 5 performance at the plate. He had a two-RBI double in the seventh to put SMC up 4-0, and he added a two-RBI single in the eighth to make the score 9-0.
Brett Rasso also hit his first career home run in the opener, a two-run shot in the eighth that made it 6-0. Vranesh hit his second home run in as many days with a solo shot in the seventh to make it 2-0 at the time.
The Gaels blew open what was a pitchers’ duel with five runs in the seventh and four more in the eighth. For six innings, SMC’s Jake Valdez (3-1) and CSUN’s Samuel Myers (2-2) matched nearly frame for frame. Only Fiske’s leadoff solo home run was the difference in a 1-0 game for six innings.
Valdez earned his third victory of the year with eight shutout innings. He only allowed two hits – none in the first three innings – and struck out five. Jonathan Buckley completed the shutout with a scoreless ninth that included two strikeouts.
SMC scored all five of its seventh-inning runs with two outs, starting with Vranesh’s homer. Three of the Gaels’ four eighth-inning runs scored with one out already recorded. Saint Mary’s batted around in both innings.
Saint Mary’s erased two one-run deficits in the nightcap before finally taking the lead for good in the 10th inning. Vranesh’s third home run in as many games was the eventual game-winner. It marked the Gaels’ sixth come-from-behind win of the season and second of the week after coming back at UC Davis on Tuesday.
Jackson Thoreson’s fourth home run of the season, a solo shot in the top of the second, was a quick answer to CSUN taking a first inning, 1-0 lead. Albee Weiss, who had all three of the Matadors’ RBIs in game two, gave CSUN back a 3-2 lead in the fifth on a two-out, two-run triple off the right-center field wall.
But Zach Kirtley was there to answer for the Gaels again. His two-out RBI single tied it at 3-3 a half-inning later in the sixth. CSUN tried answering back in its turn at-bat of the inning with a leadoff double, but reliever Ken Waldichuk got the final two outs, stranding the go-ahead run in scoring position.
Kevin Milam threw four shutout, no-hit innings of relief from the seventh to the 10th to keep CSUN off the board and earn his first career victory. It was his longest outing of the season as he struck out three. Milam allowed three free passes (two walks, hit-by-pitch), including two to lead off the bottom of the 10th, but he got three straight outs to clinch the victory.
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