PORTLAND, Ore. -- Eight strong innings from left-hander Ryan Brockett and an opportunistic offense spelled victory for the Saint Mary's baseball team Friday as the Gaels beat host Portland 5-3 to win their West Coast Conference opener.
Saint Mary's improves to 9-12 overall with the victory. Portland falls to 5-16 overall and 0-4 in conference play.
Brockett toed the slab in his familiar Friday slot and delivered yet another in a season full of solid performances. This time, the southpaw retired the first 10 hitters he faced, giving the Gaels a chance to take the first lead of the game.
Given that opportunity, Saint Mary's took advantage. A one-out double by Anthony Gonsolin got the Gaels on base in the third and Collin Ferguson cashed in, bringing Gonsolin in with a double of his own.
The two-out offense continued in the fourth. Michael Valentin reached with one out when he was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a groundout. That brought DonAndre Clark to the plate and the Gaels' center fielder wasted no time, turning the first pitch he saw around for a single to right that scored Valentin. Clark advanced to second on the throw, and scored one batter later when Gonsolin singled to left. That gave Brockett a 3-0 lead after four innings.
Portland got a run back in the bottom of the fourth, but that would be the extent of the offense for the Pilots. Twice runners got to third base against the lefty but twice Portland was denied as Brockett escaped both situations. He finished with his longest outing of the season, tossing eight innings and scattering five hits while striking out three and walking two. With the win, Brockett improves to 3-2 on the season.
Clark helped add another insurance run in the seventh, leading off with a triple and scoring on a sacrifice fly by Ricky Boas. A throwing error in the ninth finished the scoring, allowing Boas to score. Clark, Ferguson, Gonsolin and Ian McLoughlin each collected two hits to lead the Saint Mary's offense.
Portland closed the gap in the bottom of the ninth when Kevin Farley, given an extra chance after a dropped foul ball resulted in a SMC error, belted a two-run home run off Brad Nease to cut the Saint Mary's lead to 5-3. That didn't faze the Gaels' lefty though as Nease induced groundouts by the next two hitters to finish the game.
Saint Mary's and Portland return to Joe Etzel Field on Saturday for game two of the series. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m with reigning WCC Pitcher of the Week Cameron Neff set to take the ball for Saint Mary's Right-hander Kurt Yinger is scheduled to pitch for Portland.