SPOKANE, Wash. — The Saint Mary's baseball team kicked off its biggest West Coast Conference series of the year to date with a bang Friday, roughing up a four-time WCC Pitcher of the Week and cruising to a 7-3 win at first-place Gonzaga at the Patterson Baseball Complex.
The Gaels (27-14, 10-6 WCC) tagged Preseason All-WCC pitcher Eli Morgan (7-2) for seven runs on 11 hits in handing him just his second loss of the year. They scored their first five runs all with two outs, not letting Morgan out of the fourth or fifth innings without rallying for multiple runs. Gonzaga's (25-15, 14-5 WCC) reigning WCC Pitcher of the Week and conference strikeouts leader still rung up 12 Gaels, but it wasn't enough to slow down the SMC offense.
It was the 17th double-figure hits game for Saint Mary's this season. The Gaels had four multi-hit performances and three multi-RBI showings in the lineup. Austin Chauvin and defending WCC Player of the Week Edward Haus both went 3 for 5, with Chauvin matching a career high with three RBIs and Haus scoring three runs.
Joey Fiske and Joe Vranesh both had two hits. Vranesh had two separate run-scoring knocks. His RBI single in the fourth was the first in a two-out, three-run rally by SMC to break a scoreless tie and go ahead 3-0. His RBI double the very next inning made it 5-0 through five.
There were plenty of base runners to go around, as both teams stranded 11. But the Bulldogs were just 2 for 18 (.111) with runners on base while the Gaels batted .500 (9 for 18). Saint Mary's used four pitchers. Ken Waldichuk earned his first career save with 3 1/3 innings of effective relief to close out the game. A solo home run to Gunnar Schubert was the only hit and only run he allowed while striking out four.
The WCC standings are tighter than ever after Friday's action. Saint Mary's gained ground on both Gonzaga and co-first place team Loyola Marymount, who fell 11-10 to San Diego. There is a four-way tie atop the conference with BYU leading by percentage points over USD, LMU and Gonzaga. Saint Mary's sits 2 1/2 games behind the group with three games in hand over the Toreros, Lions and Bulldogs.
The Gaels and Bulldogs' series continues at 3 p.m. Saturday. SMC righty Conner Loeprich is scheduled to throw against Gonzaga right-hander Justin Vernia. The game will be streamed live on the Gaels' “GaelVision” Gameday Central page.
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