SAN FRANCISCO — Brett Rasso was a spark plug for the Saint Mary’s baseball team Friday, starting three scoring rallies with three hits and three runs scored to lead the Gaels to a 5-3 West Coast Conference series-opening victory at Benedetti Diamond.
Rasso went 4 for 4 with a double, three runs and two stolen bases Friday. It was his base hits in the third, fifth and seventh innings that led to runs for Saint Mary’s (19-10, 4-3 WCC). Rasso’s perfect showing at the plate snapped a 3-for-33 cold streak he was on dating to March 18.
SMC went ahead for good in the seventh with a two-out, three-run rally. Rasso started it with a one-out single and a stolen base. Joey Fiske drove him in for the second time in the game with an RBI double, making it 3-2. Zach Kirtley drove in two more runs with a double two batters later after Kevin Milam walked, making it 5-2.
Pitching also featured on Friday for Saint Mary’s. Conner Loeprich (4-0) recorded a career-high eight strikeouts in six innings of work. He allowed two runs on five scattered hits, earning his third win in four starts this year.
Jake Valdez earned his second career save and first since 2014 with 2 2/3 innings of work. He got the Gaels out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the seventh to preserve their two-run lead, then threw scoreless eighth and ninth innings to close it out.
Friday marked Saint Mary’s 10th come-from-behind victory and second in a row. San Francisco took a 2-1 lead with a two-out, two-run rally in the third. Down to his last strike, Allen Smoot doubled home Matt Sinatro on a 2-2 count to tie the game at 1-1. Then after an infield single put runners on the corners, Smoot gave USF the lead when he scored on a double steal.
Saint Mary’s grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the top of the third with a manufactured run. Rasso led off the inning with a double. He was sacrifice bunted to third, and Milam brought him home with a sacrifice fly.
It was Rasso again who started a game-tying rally in the top of the fifth. He got things going with a one-out single, then stole second base. He later scored on Fiske’s RBI single past the shortstop, making it 2-2.
Game two of the series is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. Saturday. Saint Mary’s left-hander Johnny York (3-2, 4.19 ERA) is scheduled to start against USF’s Thomas Ponticelli. The game can be watch live on the Gaels’ “GaelVision” Gameday Central page.
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