SAN FRANCISCO — A strong start on the mound and balanced hitting throughout the lineup helped San Francisco avoid a sweep Sunday at the hands of the Saint Mary’s baseball team, as the Dons held off the Gaels with an 8-1 win at Benedetti Diamond.
USF starter Daniel Slominski limited Saint Mary’s (20-11, 5-4 WCC) to just one run on seven scattered hits with eight strikeouts. His only mistake came in the first inning, a two-out solo home run surrendered to Zach Kirtley. After that, he threw seven straight shutout innings. Meanwhile, the Dons (15-17, 3-9 WCC) had hits from seven of nine starters in their lineup, including three multi-hit performances.
Sunday was a come-from-behind win for San Francisco after the Gaels did the same to win Friday and Saturday. Kirtley’s solo shot was his first home run of the year, hit high over the left field wall to give SMC an early 1-0 lead. But USF took the lead for good in the bottom of the second after the first four batters of the inning all reached with base hits, leading to two runs and a 2-1 lead.
San Francisco scored six of its eight runs in the game with two outs. It scored two runs in each of the second, fourth, seventh and eighth innings. Only the second inning rally occurred with less than two outs. Matt Sinatro had two two-out RBI hits for the Dons, equating to three RBIs.
Sinatro’s two-out, two-run single in the fourth gave San Francisco breathing room with a 4-1 lead. Two leadoff singles started the rally, but the Gaels were ready to escape the jam after inducing back-to-back groundouts. That’s when Sinatro sent one back up the middle, scoring two.
The Gaels were not without chances Sunday. SMC left four runners in scoring position, eight overall, and hit into two double plays. They were 1 for 9 at the plate with runners in scoring position – including seven strikeouts) and hit .125 (2 for 16) with runners on base.
Saint Mary’s had its best chance to rally in the top of the sixth. Still trailing 4-1, the Gaels put two runners in scoring position with only one out after Kirtley’s double to left-center field. But the next two SMC batters would both strike out, ending the threat and keeping the Dons ahead.
Saint Mary’s failed to complete a sweep for the second time this season. The Gaels have been in position to sweep three times in 2017, but only completed the task against Portland (March 25-26). Last season, SMC had seven chances to complete a sweep but only did it once – also against Portland (May 20-22, 2016).
Saint Mary’s opens its longest home stand of the year – an eight-game stretch at Louis Guisto Field – at 3 p.m. Tuesday with a midweek non-conference game versus East Bay rival California. The Gaels then host first-place Loyola Marymount for a three-game WCC series starting Thursday and running through Saturday.
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