BSB | Gaels Crush Waves On Senior Day
The Saint Mary's baseball team powered past Pepperdine on Senior Day Sunday to move one win closer to a WCC Tournament berth
MORAGA, Calif. -- This time, it was one swing of the bat for the Saint Mary's baseball team that changed the game on Sunday, as senior Jackson Thoreson's go-ahead grand slam in a seven-run fourth inning put the Gaels ahead for good on Senior Day in a 12-8 West Coast Conference victory over first-place Pepperdine at Louis Guisto Field.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Two-out, third-inning home runs in each of the first two games gave Pepperdine (28-19, 16-8 WCC) early, decisive advantages, and the Waves went back at it again Sunday, but even earlier this time. Jordan Qsar hit a two-out, two-run home run in the first inning to put Pepperdine up 2-0. SMC starter Nick Frank struck out each of the first two batters he faced, but it turned into a three-run, two-out rally as the Waves also tacked on an unearned run after Qsar's homer to lead 3-0 after one half inning.
- And it looked to be playing out the same way it had on Friday and Saturday for Saint Mary's (30-20, 14-10 WCC) in the first few innings as well. The Gaels had three hits in the first two innings, but all three base runners were erased on double plays and outfield assists. But then came the fourth inning.
- Each of the Gaels' first three batters reached safely, first on senior Joey Fiske's infield single followed by fellow senior Brett Rasso's bloop single, then a walk to Kevin Milam. Pepperdine starter Christian Stoutland fell behind Thoreson 2-0, and with nowhere to put Thoreson, left one over the plate that the Gaels' veteran jumped all over, sending it over the right field wall for a grand slam and a 4-3 Saint Mary's lead on one swing.
- Thoreson's bomb wasn't the end of the Gaels' rally though. Saint Mary's hit for the cycle as a team in the fourth inning alone, with four RBI hits coming in four different styles. First came Thoreson's grand slam home run, then three batters later Austin Chauvin tripled off the left-center field wall to score Matt Green and make it 5-3. Gio Diaz singled home Chauvin to make it 6-3, and Fiske got his second hit of the inning with an RBI double to make it 7-3.
- Pepperdine wouldn't go away easily, however. The Waves answered right back in the top of the fifth with two runs, making it 7-5 and chasing Frank. Ty Madrigal (3-1) entered and got two strikeouts, stranding the tying runs on base. The Waves would put multiple runners on base in each of the final four innings but would strand runners in each of those frames. Qsar's second home run of the game - a three-run shot in the top of the ninth, were the only Waves runs that came home after the Gaels' big fourth inning.
- Qsar's late homer didn't mean much, though, after the Gaels rallied for four runs in the bottom of the eighth to take a 12-5 lead. SMC had five hits in the eighth, which included more production by the seniors on Senior Day. Fiske tallied his fourth hit of the day with an RBI single, Rasso brought home a run with a sacrifice fly, and Thoreson turned in RBIs No. 5 and 6 on the day with a bases-clearing double to make it 12-5.
- Pepperdine did make it interesting in the ninth. Qsar's home run made it 12-8, and the rally continued as the Waves' first five batters of the inning all reached safely, putting the tying run on deck. Andrew Hansen finally closed it down, getting pinch-hitter Saul Sandoval-Estrada to strike out on three pitches, then reaching up above his head to snag a ball hit back up the middle to start a 1-6-3 game-ending double play.
- 1: The Gaels' magic number to get into the 2018 West Coast Conference Tournament is now one. SMC needs just one victory next weekend at Loyola Marymount to clinch its third straight appearance in the tournament thanks to its win on Sunday coupled with LMU's 5-2 loss at Santa Clara.
- 5: Five Gaels had multi-hit performances, led by Joey Fiske's perfect 4-for-4 day. Fiske reached base five times, scoring twice and driving in two runs. Five different Gaels had RBIs.
- 6: Thoreson's six RBIs were a career high for him, and the most by a Gael since Nate Nolan also had six RBIs at BYU on May 7, 2015.
- 20: Saint Mary's and Pepperdine combined for 20 runs on 31 total hits Sunday. It's the biggest offensive game the pitching-centric Gaels have been involved in this season. Eight of nine SMC starters reached base safely, seven had at least one hit, seven scored at least one run and five had at least one RBI.
- Saint Mary's plays its last home game of 2018 at 2 p.m. Tuesday when it hosts San Jose State to wrap up a home-and-home non-conference series with the Spartans. The Gaels then travel to Los Angeles for their final WCC series of the year, a three-game set starting Friday.
- Tickets for Tuesday's final home game are available for purchase on SMCGaels.com or by calling the SMC Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx. Fans can find all live coverage links on SMCGaels.com.
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