MORAGA, Calif. – Game one of the three game series against Loyola Marymount had a little bit of everything for baseball fans. The Gaels hit a pair of home runs, had solid starting pitching and finished it off with a drama filled ninth capped off by a stunning save by the closer. In the end, Saint Mary’s defeated LMU 6-4 on Friday afternoon at Louis Guisto Field.
Saint Mary’s (21-24/7-9 WCC) appeared to be the front runners in a laugher, as SMC was winning 6-0 heading into the top of the seventh. SMC’s starter Mark Anderson (7-5) was doing all the right things en route to his seventh win of the season before LMU scored four runs late to make it interesting.
Loyola Marymount’s (24-21/5-8 WCC) furious comeback stalled in the top of the ninth inning, but not before giving the Gael fans in attendance a few minutes of unease. LMU loaded the bases with no outs on a base hit, a walk and an error. SMC turned to sophomore Patrick Keane to get the Gaels out of the jam.
Keane promptly fell behind LMU’s Joe Vierra 2-0, before battling back to strike Vierra out on a slider for the crucial first out. Keane followed that up striking out Shon Roe for the second out. He then nailed down his team-leading third save of the game, getting Evan Simonitsch to fly out to right field.
The Gaels scored their six runs on 13 hits, as SMC raced out to an early lead, jumping all over LMU’s starter Jason Wheeler (6-3). Wheeler lasted six innings but surrendered 13 hits, six runs all earned with no walks striking out seven.
The Gaels scored their first run on a two out double by Troy Channing scoring Patrick Wisdom from first. Wisdom reached after battling in a tough at bat and knocking a single to left field. The Gaels three and four hitters came up huge for SMC today. Wisdom went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI. Channing was a triple shy of the cycle, going 3-for-4 with a run scored and two driven in.
The fireworks for the Gaels showed up in the fourth inning however. Brenden Kalfus led off with a single to right field; he came around to score on a monster two run home run by Wisdom on a 3-1 pitch over the left field fence. Channing fallowed that up with a solo shot of his own, to make it 4-0. It is the first time this season the Gaels have gone back-to-back. The home run by Channing was his 42nd career home run.
Anderson got back into the win column after going 7.2 innings, scattering seven hits, four runs, three earned with four walks and two strike outs. He created a few of his own jams, loading the bases in the third after hitting two batters and walking one, but found a way to get the outs he needed all afternoon. His seven wins is a new career-high.
In the top of the seventh LMU’s Alex Guthrie turned on a 1-1 pitch and sent it over the left field fence for the first run of the afternoon. LMU added another run in the seventh on Jonathan Johnson ground ball to Channing that plated Sean McIntyre from third. Anderson escaped the seventh with the lead and came out for the eighth.
In the eighth inning Anderson allowed two runs to score but got two outs. He was lifted in favor of freshman Ben Griset when he couldn’t get the final out with the tying run on first. Griset got the big out getting pinch hitter Nick Devian to fly out to center field.
Behind the strong outing by the three Gaels pitchers was some truly spectacular defense. Michael Gastelum made a nice turn at second as part of an inning ending 1-6-3 double play in the first. Wisdom robbed Roe of a base hit down the left field line laying out for a ball and quickly getting up and throwing a dart to first. The play of the day however went to Justin Fazio. With two outs and two runners on in a tight ball game, LMU’s Guthrie hit a blast to left field, Fazio tracked it down leaping into the fence and held onto the ball to end the inning and preserving the Gaels slim lead.
SMC and LMU will play a double header tomorrow with the first game starting at 12:00 PM. Sunday’s game will be moved to 3:30 PM on Saturday due to rain in the forecast.