Moraga, CA – Saint Mary’s got a couple of sole homeruns from Brenden Kalfus and Patrick Wisdom, but it wasn’t enough, as UC Riverside starting pitcher Matt Larkins threw eight innings to lead the Highlanders to an 8-4 win over the Gaels at Louis Guisto Field on Sunday afternoon.
In what started out as a pitcher’s duel between Larkins (2-2) and SMC starter Martin Agosta, a couple unearned runs in the top of the fourth inning put the Highlanders ahead 2-0. Michael Hur doubled to open the inning, and after Agosta hit Robert Brantly with a pitch, Justin Shults hit into a 5-4-3 double play, which moved Hur to third.
It looked as though Agosta would get out of the inning, but a throwing by Mikey Reynolds on a Travis Jemmett grounder allowed the first run to score. Jemmett then scored on a two-out RBI single off the bat of Mike Nesbitt.
“Overall, we played really hard and were a few pitches away from winning two or three ball games, this weekend,” said Soto. “It’s a sign of a younger team, we made some mistakes and we certainly made some today and they hurt us. But as long as our team continues to learn from those mistakes we will be just fine. I really do like this team, I think they are very good, we’re young and we make some mistakes.”
Saint Mary’s answered in the bottom of the fourth inning when Kalfus hit his second homerun of the season over the 375-foot sign in right centerfield with two outs. Kalfus finished the day with one hit in three at-bats.
After a scoreless fifth inning, UCR extended its lead to 4-1 following a two-run double to right center off the bat of Bryan Horst. Once again the Gaels got an answer in the bottom half of the inning, this time it was Wisdom going deep to center field to lead off the inning. Wisdom finished the day going 2-for-4, and was the only Gaels with two hits.
Soto added, “As young and talented as we are, there were a couple of bright spots. Patrick Wisdom was good all weekend long, and came up with some big plays defensively in the series and hit the homerun today, as did Brendon Kalfus. Martin Agosta has been good all season long, and again today, he gave us a chance to win the game.”
Agosta, who took the loss to drop to 2-1 this season, pitched into the seventh inning. After striking out Joey Gonzales to open the seventh, Hur singles and Brantly doubled to put runners on second and third. Jedd Soto replaced Agosta with Dylan Chavez, and the first better he faced, Justin Shults, doubled to the leftfield gap to score Hur and Brantly.
“We faced another really good team in UC Riverside, which I think will finish close to the top of the Big West. They pitched well and played really good defense all weekend,” said Soto.
UC Riverside added two more runs in the eighth inning on a RBI singles by Hur and Shults. Hur finished the day going 3-for-5 with three runs scored, while Shults was 3-for-5 with three RBI and one run scored. Nesbitt was 3-for-3 and Brian McConkey was 2-for-5.
Saint Mary’s put together a small rally in the bottom of the ninth, scoring two runs in its final at-bat. Drew Fisher singled to left field, then advanced to third on a Donald Collins pinch-hit double to right field. Fisher scored on a Greg Ditmer ground out to second, and Collins scored when Chris Murphy grounded out to short.
Saint Mary’s returns to action on Tuesday, March 30 when it travels to UC Davis for a 2:30 p.m. game against the Aggies. The game at UC Davis will be the first of nine straight games on the road for the Gaels over the next 15 days.