Moraga, CA – With the game tied at four in the bottom of the eighth Troy Channing proved that lightening can strike twice, as the freshman clubbed the second of his two homeruns, which proved to be the game winner as Saint Mary’s (25-20/7-8 WCC) holds on to win the rubber match 5-4 over Loyola Marymount (25-21/9-6 WCC) Sunday afternoon at Louis Guisto Field. The win today seals the series victory for the Gaels and is the second time in as many weeks the Gaels have taken the series from the top-ranked team in the conference.
The Lion’s starter Alex Gillingham came out for his eighth frame of work, and got lead off hitter Anthony Aliotti to strike out swinging after falling behind 3-1. That would be it for Gillingham as the Lions turned the ball over to closer Chris Eusebio (3-4), coming in to face Channing. Channing wasted no time introducing himself to Eusebio, clubbing his second homerun of the game a huge blast over the left field fence, giving the Gaels a one run lead.
For the day Channing went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and three runs driven in. Even more impressive was this was Channing’s 22nd multiple-hit game, and 19th multiple RBI game. For the series Channing went 4-for-11 with three homeruns, four runs scored and nine runs batted in.
In the top of the ninth Brandon Berl (2-1) came out to essentially close out his own win, Berl came into the game for the Gaels in the top of the sixth. The Lions put the pressure on the Gaels when Brad Bauer led off the inning with a single, Bauer was a pain all day for SMC as he went 3-for-4 with three runs scored. Pinch runner Will Dugoni moved over to second on the sacrifice bunt from Jonathan Johnson. Pinch hitter T.J. Bernardy moved Dugoni over to third on a groundball to shortstop for the second out. Berl sealed the victory getting Ryan Hawthorne to strike out swinging. Berl’s line for the day was 3.2 innings pitched, scattering one hit, no runs, no walks and two strike outs.
Starting for Saint Mary’s was freshman Nathan Gonzales making his seventh start of the season. Gonzales quickly worked through the top of the Lions order in the first, getting three up and three down. Gonzales pitched well enough for the win, but could not escape the sixth the lead, his line for the day was 5.1 innings pitched, surrendering seven hits, four runs, all earned, three walks and no strike outs.
Saint Mary’s got on the board first, as Aliotti got things started for the Gaels hitting a single into shallow left center in the bottom of the first. Channing put the Gaels on the board clubbing his 17th homerun of the season, a moon shot over the left field fence, giving Saint Mary’s a two-run lead.
LMU got on the board in the top of the second, Ollie Enos reached safely by way of a walk, he moved over to second on a wild pitch. A groundball from Trevor Gee moved Enos to third, who came around to score on the single up the middle from Bauer. The Lions loaded the bases with three-straight hits, as Even Simonitsch received a friendly Guisto bounce. The bases remained loaded as Gonzales induced a routine fly ball to left field to end the inning.
In the bottom of the second Ryan Mulligan led off the inning with a single to the six-hole. Ryan Young clubbed his third homerun of the season, a no-doubter over the left field fence. Gillingham made a mistake elevating a pitch on a 1-2 count and Young hammered it, giving the Gaels a three-run lead.
LMU tied the game up in the top of the sixth, Kyle Spraker led off the inning with a double down the left field line, he moved over to third on a ball that got away from Mulligan on ball four to Angelo Songco. Enos knocked Spraker in from third on the single through the left side. Gee loaded the bases with a single through the right side, for designated hitter Bauer. Bauer tied it up with a single up the middle scoring Songco from third and Enos at second to tie the game at four, and ending the day for Gonzales.
Berl came into the game for the Gaels in the top of the sixth with runners at first and second and one out. Berl got the second out of the inning getting Johnson to fly out to center, Cory Miller got the ball back in quickly ensuring that the runners would not advance. Berl ended the jam getting Evan Simonitsch to ground out to Michael Gastelum to end the inning.
On the afternoon seven Gaels collected a hit, Gastelum now has a nine game hitting streak going after knocking a bunt single past the pitcher. He went 1-for-3, as did Murphy. Mulligan went 1-for-3 with a run scored, Justin Fazio went 1-for-4, and Aliotti went 1-for-4 with a run scored as well.
Saint Mary’s enters a crucial week, they return to action on Tuesday, traveling down South to San Jose to take on San Jose State. On Wednesday they return home facing Cal Poly for a Wednesday match-up before heading up North to Spokane, WA, to play a three-game series against Gonzaga that could have a huge say on who wins conference.