MALIBU, Calif. — A veteran and a rookie combined Friday to give the Saint Mary's baseball team an important series-opening win, as Johnny York got back on track with a quality start and Ken Waldichuk closed it out to beat Pepperdine 3-0 in the opener of a key West Coast Conference series at Eddy D. Field Stadium.
York (5-3) worked around early trouble to keep the Waves (19-28, 7-15 WCC) scoreless in his longest outing since April 14. The senior entered Friday having gone 0-1 with an 8.76 ERA in his last three starts following his complete game shutout of Loyola Marymount, all not lasting longer than 4 1/3 innings. But he stranded five Waves in scoring position and struck out three while scattering four hits and matching a career high with four walks.
Friday's victory pulled Saint Mary's into a tie with San Diego for the fourth and final spot in the WCC Tournament at season's end. The Gaels hold the tie breaker over the Toreros after taking two of three from them at home last weekend.
Pepperdine left 11 runners on base in the game, six in scoring position. Waldichuk earned his second save for the Gaels (32-17, 14-8 WCC) with three innings of shutout relief. He struck out four and walked none while only allowing two hits.
The Saint Mary's offense worked small ball against Waves starter Ryan Wilson (3-5). SMC scored its first run in the third on a Joey Fiske leadoff single, followed by a stolen base, sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly to take a 1-0 lead.
Joe Vranesh saw no “small” part in his game, going 3 for 4 and only a home run shy of the cycle with a double, triple and RBI single in the fourth that made it 2-0. Brett Rasso added a two-out RBI single up the middle in the seventh to give Saint Mary's some insurance.
The series continues at 1 p.m. Saturday. Saint Mary's righty Jake Valdez (4-2, 3.90 ERA) is scheduled to throw against Pepperdine righty Will Jensen (2-7, 4.29 ERA). The game will be streamed live on SMCGaels.com.
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