MORAGA, Calif. — The 2017 Saint Mary’s baseball team flexed its muscles Sunday in its final live tune-up before Opening Day, as the current Gaels defeated a team of Gaels from the past, 14-2, in the annual Alumni Game at Louis Guisto Field.
It was the second Alumni Game to be held during Saint Mary’s head coach Eric Valenzuela’s tenure. The game capped an eventful weekend for the 2017 Gaels that included the team’s first full practice on Friday and the annual First Pitch Dinner Saturday night.
“This is always a fun deal and it’s a special weekend for us,” said Valenzuela. “We try to keep it as game-like as possible and it just gives us another opportunity to see somebody else on the other side, but it’s also fun.”
Saint Mary’s scored 14 runs (nine earned) on 14 hits and seven free passes (four hit-by-pitch, three walks) Sunday. 10 different Gaels got base hits and eight players tallied RBIs. The victory went to senior right-handed pitcher Cameron Neff, who threw two shutout innings with one hit and two strikeouts as the SMC starter.
Preseason All-American second baseman Zach Kirtley led the Gaels offensively. The junior went 2 for 3 with a home run, triple, two RBIs and two runs scored. Kirtley’s solo shot to left-center field led off the bottom of the third and put the 2017 Gaels up 6-0 after a five-run first.
Several Saint Mary’s newcomers saw their first action in a Gaels jersey Sunday. Ryan Novis went 2 for 2 as a late sub and Joe Vranish singled in the eighth inning. Austin Chauvin (2 for 3, run) and Matt Green (1 for 1, hit-by-pitch, run) both got hits and scored runs after redshirting last season due to injury.
Ty Madrigal (two innings), Drew Strotman (two innings) and Kevin Milam (one inning) all threw shutout appearances. Senior Johnny York allowed two unearned runs to the Alumni in the top of the fourth. Patrick Wisdom (2010-12) and Anthony Villa (2013-16) led off the inning with a walk and single, respectively. Brian Hawkins (2007-08) reached on an error down the first base line that allowed Wisdom to score and Villa to move to third. Villa would later score on a double play, making the score 6-2.
The game also included appearances from several members of last year's 2016 West Coast Conference championship team. Along with Villa, Ian McLoughlin (2013-16) did some catching, David Dellaserra (2013-16) threw two innings with one run on two hits and a strikeout and Nathan Simmons (2015-16) pitched. Corbin Burnes (2014-16) and Nate Nolan (2014-16) were also in attendance, but did not appear in the game.
There’s some really good players over there on that side. Some guys still playing professional baseball and guys that are just recently out of professional baseball.
“I think we’re going to be a team that utilizes everybody,” said Valenzuela. “From top to bottom we have some depth, on the mound and position player-wise. And we want to give these guys opportunities because a lot of these guys that are young are going to be the future of this program, so definitely want to give them some time.”
The Gaels’ 2017 season begins on Feb. 17 in Las Vegas. The home schedule opens on Feb. 23 against Pac-12 Conference member and 2016 NCAA Regional participant Washington. Season, group and single-game tickets can be purchased on SMCGaels.com or by calling the SMC Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx.
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