MORAGA, Calif. -- By the end of the season, a 10-5 win over Gonzaga will look like nothing more than just another result on the ledger for the Saint Mary's baseball team.
In the here and now, Sunday's victory serves as a much-needed shot in the arm for a club still very much playing to win.
To reverse recent course, Saint Mary's got offensive against the Bulldogs, collecting 15 hits en route to its biggest run total this month. Every Gaels starter had a hit, and six different players had two. Collin Ferguson drove in three runs thanks to a 3-run home run in the third inning and DonAndre Clark also drove in three.
That jolt of offensive baseball backed up starter Anthony Gonsolin, who worked six innings to pick up his second win of the season. Brad Nease closed the game out with three hitless innings of relief, striking out four to nail down his third save of the season.
"It is (a lift) after the bad streak we were in. But, like I've said before, it's not like we've played bad. We've played good and teams have played better than us," Saint Mary's coach Eric Valenzuela said. "It's good, especially from the offensive end. They're very capable of doing what they did today. (Gonzaga) has great pitching, so hopefully this will let our guys breath a little bit and just play without anything else on their mind. It's great to see individual performances like Clark and Ferguson and Brad Nease. We needed those big three zeroes at the end."
Gonzaga (18-24, 13-8 West Coast Conference) jumped out to the early lead Sunday, scoring two in the second on an RBI triple by Sam Brown and a squeeze bunt by Cabe Reiten. That gave starter Andrew Sopko the advantage and the right-hander used it, escaping trouble in the bottom of the inning to keep the Bulldogs ahead.
But, while Sopko escaped the second unscathed, Saint Mary's (14-29, 6-12) cashed in on its chances in the third. An RBI single by Ian McLoughlin cut the deficit in half, and after Michael Valentin singled to keep the inning going, Ferguson sent a 3-1 offering from Sopko into the stratosphere, drilling a home run just to the right of the 370-foot marker in the right-center power alley. By the time the inning concluded, Saint Mary's led 4-2.
"Just as not getting hits is contagious, hitting is contagious," Ferguson said. "I think everyone in the lineup had a hit today and it was really big for us to put one together as a team rather than just individual performances while the rest of the team doesn't pick up the slack."
That lead didn't stand up for long. Gonzaga scored single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth to take a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the sixth. That's when Saint Mary's took the lead for good, starting with a single by Ricky Boas and Anthony Villa being hit by a pitch. After a successful double steal and a strikeout, Clark delivered the big blow, doubling to left to score two and give the Gaels the 6-5 lead.
A huge seventh inning put the game out of reach, as Saint Mary's tallied five hits to score four runs in the frame. Boas, Villa, Connor Hornsby and Clark all drove in runs, giving Nease plenty of room to work for the rest of the game. The left-hander closed it out in style, working a perfect ninth inning to preserve the win.
"One thing we've really been proud of through all this is we feel we've given good effort every game." Ferguson said. "The losses aren't due to a lack of us trying. We're not giving in. It just hasn't been going our way for whatever reason each game. It feels really good to finally have a lot of effort pay off and get a big W for us."
Saint Mary's will look to carry the momentum of Sunday's win forward as it prepares to wrap up a five-game homestand on Wednesday against San Jose State. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. The Gaels travel to San Diego next week for three WCC games against the Toreros. That series begins Friday at 6 p.m.