PORTLAND, Ore. - The Saint Mary's baseball team entered game one of the series facing a staff ace of a pitching staff with the third best ERA in the nation, but it was the Gaels pitching staff, led by Martin Agosta's career-high 12 strike outs, that proved to be unhittable, as SMC took game one of the series against Portland 4-1 at Joe Eztel Field on Friday afternoon.
Agosta (9-2) becomes the first nine game-winner since 1991 at Saint Mary's (23-24/7-12 WCC) and had arguably his best start of the season, a phrase that is becoming routine. The Gaels junior ace went 8.0 complete, scattering six hits, one earned run, with a walk and a career-high 12 strike outs.
In the top of the first inning the first three batters reached for the Gaels against senior starter Kyle Kraus (6-4). Donald Collins led off the inning with a seven pitch walk after falling behind 0-2. Cole Norton singled through the left side, moving Collins to second. Collin Ferguson continued his hot hitting, knocking a single up the middle scoring Collins from third. Norton moved up to third on a wild pitch, Ferguson was thrown out on the play for the first out. Brenden Kalfus singled to right field scoring Norton from third for the second run of the inning.
In the bottom of the first inning Portland (23-18/10-9 WCC) retaliated with a single to second by Sam Westerndorf with one out. Turner Gill doubled to left center scoring Westerndorf to put the Pilots on the board.
In the top of the third inning the Gaels once again took advantage of a Portland error. Ferguson reached by way of a fielder's choice, he moved to second on a base hit by Patrick Wisdom, but came around to score on an error by the Pilots left fielder Gill who let the ball get passed him and roll to the fence.
Over the next three innings Agosta took over, from the bottom of the second inning to the bottom of the fifth he retired seven in a row, striking out five batters during that stretch.
Saint Mary's added a run in the bottom of the sixth inning when Ferguson and Wisdom tallied back to back singles to start the inning. After Kalfus flied out and Nick Rosso struck out swinging, Murphy continued to get it done with two outs, as he singled to center field to score Ferguson from second.
Kraus did not have a bad day the Gaels were just able to take advantage of Portland's mistakes. The senior starter for the Pilots lasted 7.0 innings, allowing eight hits, four runs, three earned, with two walks and six strike outs.
Agosta's finest inning might have been his shakiest from the start. In the bottom of the sixth he gave up back to back singles and hit a batter to load the bases before striking out the side without giving up a run. For the afternoon, Agosta went 8.0 innings pitched, scattering six hits, one earned run, with a walk and a career-high 12 strike outs.
Agosta threw up two more zeros on the board in the seventh and the eight, while Portland did the same with reliever Keeler Brynteson pitching two scoreless innings in the eight and the ninth to keep the score 4-1.
Patrick Keane came out to pitch the bottom of the ninth with a three run cushion, but he wouldn't need any wiggle room as he continues to get it done for the Gaels. He pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth inning, striking out Bo Cornish to end the game, and tallying his seventh save of the season. The seven saves is second all-time in a single-season and gives Keane 11 for his career, the 11 saves is also second all-time, just five behind Ken Reinsche's (1984-86) 16 career saves.
The Gaels outhit the Pilots 9-6; on top of that Saint Mary's did an excellent job of hitter with runners on base and runners in scoring position. SMC hit .375 with runners on, going 6-for-16, with runners in scoring position they hit .333 going 3-for-9 on the afternoon.
Ferguson led the day going 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an run batted in. Norton also had a multi-hit day going 2-for-4 with a run scored, Wisdom had the other multi-hit day going 2-for-4 as well. Kalfus finished the afternoon 1-for-4 with an RBI, Murphy finished 1-for-3 with an RBI. The base hit by Murphy gives him 43 on the year which ties his career-best from his sophomore campaign.
The Gaels go for the series win tomorrow when senior Kyle Barraclough takes the ball for Saint Mary's. First pitch for that game is slated for 1:00 p.m. at Joe Eztel Field.