By: Alex Crook, SMCGaels.com Correspondent
MORAGA, Calif. — After grinding to a statement win over nationally-ranked Washington on Thursday, a strong first inning from the Huskies to accompany solid fielding exhausted Saint Mary’s on Friday and secured UW’s 11-1 win in game two of a four-game series at Louis Guisto Field.
Saint Mary’s relief pitching shut down what was a powerful Washington offense in the early goings. The Huskies (3-2) scored all 11 of their runs in the first four innings. Freshmen Andrew Hansen and Nick Sparks made their collegiate debuts for the Gaels (3-1).
“The relief pitching was good,” head coach Eric Valenzeula said. “Hansen had a rough outing and some bad luck, but at least he got his feet wet.”
Sparks wasn’t fazed by the opponent, who is ranked as high as No. 10 in this week’s Baseball America poll, pitching the eighth inning and getting three Huskies to ground out.
Saint Mary’s enjoyed a couple bases-loaded rallies in the fourth and fifth innings, but couldn’t capitalize on either, with a putout and pop-out respectively ending both scoring threats.
Sophomore right-hander Jonathan Buckley tossed a gem in his first outing of the season, allowing no runs and no hits in three innings of work while striking out two Huskies.
“We came out pretty flat against these guys, but picked it up when coach pulled us together in the middle of the game,” Buckley said. “We came together and realized we need to figure it out and get back to what we’d been training for this whole fall.”
Jackson Thoreson enjoyed a quality third game of the season, going 3 for 4 with two singles and a standup double in the eighth inning to set up the Gaels’ only run on the afternoon.
“It was nice to get going in the eighth inning,” Thoreson said. “It’s unfortunate when you’re down by that much, but it was good to get that energy going and get that hit for people to rally around.”
Saint Mary’s rallied for the third time of the day in the eighth, finally scoring with a Logan Steinberg sacrifice fly to center field to bring home Eddie Haus.
It was the Gaels’ fourth game of a 55-game season, and Thoreson for the rest of the series expects the Gaels to “come out as we would every day, ready to compete and play our brand of baseball.”
The series continues Saturday at 1 p.m with Sunday’s series finale at the same time. Tickets are available for purchase on SMCGaels.com or by calling the SMC Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx. All games of the series will be streamed live on the Gaels’ Gameday Central page.
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