MORAGA, Calif. -- Standing one final time on the Louis Guisto Field mound, Ryan Brockett's plan for his last home start was a simple one.
Enjoy the ride and finish strong.
Brockett took the ball and never gave it back, throwing a complete game as the Saint Mary's baseball team opened its final home weekend of the 2014 season with a 4-1 victory over cross-Bay rival San Francisco.
Friday's game had the look of a pitcher's duel right away. Brockett and San Francisco starter Abe Bobb worked so quickly and efficiently through the first three innings that it took just over a half hour to get into the fourth.
For Brockett, that meant mixing speeds, changing locations and making life uncomfortable for Dons hitters. The southpaw yielded few easy at bats to the visitors, and cruised through the first part of the game without incident.
Brockett's batterymate helped the cause in the third inning. With DonAndre Clark already on base via a single, freshman Nate Nolan put the Gaels on the board when he sent Bobb's first offering just over the outstretched glove of left fielder Matt Sinatro and into the netting above the fence for a two-run homer. That gave Brockett the lead and put Saint Mary's in front early.
As it turned out, that would have been enough offense for SMC's senior ace but the Gaels tacked on two more in the fifth for good measure. Singles by Ricky Boas and Clark, combined with an error on San Francisco outfielder Bradley Zimmer put runners at second and third with no outs. After a ground out staved off the Gaels rally for a moment, Darian Ramage cashed the chance in, chopping a single up the middle to score both runners and make it 4-0 Saint Mary's.
San Francisco (22-26, 9-16 West Coast Conference) scored its lone run in the eighth when Zack Turner lined a double down the left field line to score Nico Giarratano from second. Brockett limited the damage though, getting Brendan Hendriks to fly out to left to end the inning.
In the ninth, there was no discussion of Brockett surrendering the ball and that confidence paid off as the lefty worked a perfect inning to finish the game. A fly out to center by Sinatro ended things and allowed Brockett to walk off the mound a winner.
"It proves to me that I'm leaving everything out on the field. I'm a senior and it would've been pretty bad to go out there, have a half-hearted performance and not do too well," Brockett said. "It means a lot. I'm glad I was able to do it and I'll look to continue to moving forward for Santa Clara. Like coach (Eric Valenzuela) says, finish strong and my velocity's up more than it's ever been two games before the end of the season. That's a testament to him as well."
The one run Brockett did allow was unearned and he scattered five hits, walked two and struck out four to pick up his fifth win of the season. Offensively, Clark continued his recent stretch of standout play, going 2 for 3 with two runs. Anthony Villa also had two hits for the Gaels, who had nine hits as a team.
Aside from the two bad innings, Bobb was nearly as good as Brockett. The right-hander needed just 85 pitches to throw eight innings, allowing nine hits and striking out three in taking the loss.
"I feel like I've seen (Bobb) pitch 20 times. It was good to see those two go at it. He pitched good too," Saint Mary's coach Eric Valenzuela said. "We had a big hit and we executed with guys on second and third and less than two outs. We played good defense for the most part and (Brockett) pitched great. I didn't even have to ask if he wanted to go out for the ninth. That's good to see this late in the year."
Saint Mary's returns to the field on Saturday at 1 p.m. for the second of three games against the Dons. The first 200 SMC fans through the gates will receive a free Saint Mary's Baseball t-shirt, courtesy of Pepsi. Sunday's series finale is also set for a 1 p.m. start and will be preceded by Senior Day festivities.
"We're not going to lie to each other. We know there's no postseason hopes or a tournament hope," Valenzuela said. "They have to feel motivated and how do you do that? How do you stay motivated to play good and not quit. I think that's a great job by our team to not look at results, not look at results, not look at the big picture and that's what they did. Hopefully that can carry over throughout the weekend."