MORAGA, Calif. - The Saint Mary's baseball team received a brilliant pitching performance from junior ace Martin Agosta who did not let a first inning rain shower spoil his impressive performance, meanwhile a bases loaded hit by pitch sent the Gael faithful home happy as SMC took game one of this three game series against San Francisco by a final score of 5-4 on Friday afternoon at Louis Guisto Field.
San Francisco (27-30/12-10 WCC) entered the top of the ninth trailing 4-2 after a superb season finale from Agosta. With closer Patrick Keane (4-0) on the mound, the Gaels needed just three quick outs to take game one of the series. Keane has 11 saves in his career with no blown saves, that streak came to an end sadly.
The Dons led off the top of the ninth when Ted Lemasters worked a 3-1 count in his favor and somehow kept the ball fair, hitting his second home run of the season down the right field line to cut the Gaels lead in half. After a ground out and a strike out, Keane needed just one more out to close out the win, the Dons turned to pinch hitter Tom Barry who hit a weakly hit ground ball to short on a 1-2 count, Barry beat the throw which got past Collin Ferguson allowing Barry to get into scoring position with two outs. The next batter, Brendan Hendriks, doubled down the right field line to score the tying run.
Saint Mary's (24-27/8-14 WCC) did not allow the turn in momentum to spoil their day. Facing closer Elliot Waterman (4-3), Donald Collins reached by way of a four pitch walk, just the 10th walk all season Waterman has allowed. After a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by Greg Ditmer, Collins reached second and eventually moved to third on a wild pitch with one out. USF elected to walk Collin Ferguson and Patrick Wisdom to load the bases and set up the double play with Troy Channing coming to bat. Waterman settled down briefly getting Channing to swing on a nasty slider low and away for the second out, bringing up Brenden Kalfus, who provided the game winning RBI after getting hit by an inside fastball on a 2-1 pitch to score Collins from third.
Keane earned his fourth win of the season throwing 1.0 complete inning, allowing three hits, two runs, one earned, with two strike outs.
The late inning heroics only briefly overshadowed the epic pitching performance by Agosta, who completely dominated the Dons for five innings before finally surrendering a pair of runs in the sixth. Staked with a four run lead, Agosta was vicious, attacking USF with pinpoint command of his fastball and a nasty breaking ball. For the day, he went 8.0 complete, scattering five hits, two runs, one earned, with two walks and nine strike outs. In what was likely his final inning of work as a Gael, he worked a quick 1-2-3 top of the eighth inning.
The Gaels offense gave Agosta a boost, scoring four runs in the bottom off the fourth inning off likely top-10 pick Kyle Zimmer, who managed just five innings in his last outing of the season.
Wisdom led off the four run inning drawing a walk on five pitches, he moved to second on a wild pitch and moved over to third when Channing ground a ball right back to Zimmer. Kalfus knocked in the first of his two RBI's in a more conventional way when he blasted a ball between first and second scoring Wisdom. Kalfus scored all the way from first easily on the next play when Chris Murphy doubled to right center, putting Saint Mary's up front 2-0. Toby DeMello singled to left field putting runners on first and third with two outs when Donald Collins had the huge hit, a two out triple to right center that cleared the bases.
USF's relief pitcher Christian Cecilion did his part, keeping SMC off the scoreboard for three innings, surrendering three hits with a walk and three strike outs, enabling the Dons to come back and tie it up in the ninth.
On the afternoon the Gaels scored five runs on nine hits, and improved to 21-6 when outhitting their opponent. Collins went 1-for-3 with a run scored and two RBI, Cole Norton went 2-for-4 on the day, DeMello was the only other Gael to record multiple hits, going 20for-4 with a run scored. Wisdom went 1-for-2 with a run scored and three walks, while Kalfus went 1for-4 with two runs batted in, Channing and Murphy had the remaining hits for SMC.
In what is likely his final start, Agosta finishes career 19-14 with a 3.25 ERA. The 19 wins are third all-time, while his 223 strike outs ranks sixth all-time. Agosta will finish the season with a 9-2 record and a miniscule 2.18 ERA, in 103.1 innings pitched he allowed just 86 hits, 27 walks while striking out 95. The 95 strike outs ranks fourth most in a single season, surpassing Tom Candiotti's mark set in 1977, meanwhile the 2.18 ERA is the third lowest in a single season in SMC history.
The Gaels return to action tomorrow when SMC and the Dons play game two of this series at 1:00 p.m. at Louis Guisto Field. Kyle Barraclough will take the ball for Saint Mary's attempting to win his 19th career game, while the Dons will counter with right hand pitcher Alex Balog.