By: Alex Crook, SMCGaels.com Correspondent
MORAGA, Calif. — The Saint Mary’s baseball team put together a ninth-inning rally Saturday with three runs, but top-25 ranked Washington continued its early offensive prowess from Friday with an 11-5 win over the Gaels to take a 2-1 lead in the four-game series at Louis Guisto Field.
The Gaels (3-2) put up double-digit hits for the fourth time in five games this season with 13 Saturday. The Gaels’ team batting average improved to .316 in the young season. Gaels head coach Eric Valenzuela remained focused on his team philosophy rather than the score.
“We talk about the play in program a lot, not the score,” Valenzuela said. “On any given day, anybody can beat anybody if you play better than them. For the last two days, they played better than us.”
For the third straight game, a Saint Mary’s pitcher made his collegiate debut as Ken Waldichuk entered in the third inning to relieve starter Johnny York. Waldichuk went three innings, including a three-strikeout fourth followed by a strong fifth.
“Things weren’t going well my first inning,” Waldichuk said, “But I went back in the dugout, gathered my thoughts and tried to do what I strive to do every day.”
Waldichuk was part of a Saint Mary’s relief staff that replicated their performance from Friday with five strikeouts in a combined seven innings of work. After giving up nine hits in the first three innings, Saint Mary’s held Washington (4-2) to two hits over the next three.
Charles Zaloumis recorded his fourth game of the year with an RBI hit on a fourth inning single up the middle to score Eddie Haus for the Gaels’ first run of the afternoon. Haus went 2 for 4 with the single that set up Zaloumis’ RBI.
“The word of the day was ‘tough’ for coach Valenzuela,” Haus said. “He stressed that from the start: have tough plate at-bats every play appearance and not give up.”
That toughness showed as Saint Mary’s used its bench to take advantage of some ninth-inning Washington miscues and bring home three runs to cut into the Huskies' lead.
“You have to keep fighting because you never know when you can get in somebody’s bullpen late in a game,” Valenzuela said. “Little things like that happen in this game and we have to keep fighting. We have to continue to play the game.”
Haus, now in his second year, added that “it’s cool to see these guys in the early stages of their colleges careers come in on a cold day to strip the jacket and be aggressive and ready to hit. I love it as a teammate and one of the starters. They’ll pick us up if we’re ever in dire need.”
The series concludes at 1 p.m. Sunday at Louis Guisto Field. 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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