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BSB | Gaels Host First Home Games of 2018

The Saint Mary's baseball team hosts its first home games of 2018 this weekend with a three-game series versus Xavier.
The Saint Mary's baseball team hosts its first home games of 2018 this weekend with a three-game series versus Xavier.
March 1, 2018

MORAGA, Calif. - The early non-conference schedule continues for the Saint Mary's baseball team in week three, as the Gaels play their first home games of 2018 starting Friday with a three-game series versus Big East Conference member Xavier.

Friday, March 2, 2 p.m. - Xavier (3-5) at Saint Mary's (4-3)
Saturday, March 3, 1 p.m. - Xavier at Saint Mary's
Sunday, March 4, 1 p.m. - Xavier at Saint Mary's

Friday: RHP Damien Richard (0-1, 6.75 ERA) vs. RHP Nick Frank (1-1, 1.93 ERA, 13 Ks)
Saturday: RHP Allbry Major (0-0, 1.35 ERA) vs. RHP Kevin Milam (1-0, 5.25 ERA, 10 Ks)
Sunday: RHP Henry Miller (0-0, 3.09 ERA) vs. LHP Ken Waldichuk (1-1, 2.13 ERA, 13 Ks)

The Gaels won their second consecutive weekend series on the road to start the year, this time taking two of three from traditional Pac-12 Conference power Arizona State. The Gaels scored six runs in each of the first two games to win 6-1 and 6-5, respectively, before falling 2-1 in a pitchers' duel in the series finale. Saint Mary's had to come from behind in the late innings of game two to clinch the series. Dylan Robertson hit a game-tying two-run home run in the eighth and Joey Fiske scampered home on a wild pitch in the top of the ninth to complete the comeback victory.

The Gaels (4-3) have earned wins on each weekend day so far this season, going 1-1 on Friday, 2-0 on Saturday and 1-1 on Sunday. SMC's lone out-of-series loss came at CSU Bakersfield, 3-2, on Feb. 19. Saint Mary's has yet to play a home game this season. It went 21-7 at Louis Guisto Field last season, including 12-3 in West Coast Conference play.

Saint Mary's has pitched well in the first two weeks of the season, posting a 2.40 staff ERA - ranked 27th in the country. The Gaels' control has been the best in the country, as SMC is ranked No. 1 for walks allowed per nine innings at a nation-best 1.65. The staff has issued just 11 walks in 60 innings pitched while striking out 50, a near-5-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.

Kevin Milam has established himself as the Gaels' top hitter early on, hitting a team-best .320 with a double and an RBI. Jackson Thoreson has flexed the power, leading SMC with a .500 slugging percentage on the heels of two doubles and a home run. The Gaels are only hitting .239 as a team, however, while averaging more than nine strikeouts per game at the plate.

Not many non-conference schedules can challenge what the Gaels lined up for themselves in 2018, but the Musketeers' (3-5) slate comes close. Already this season they have faced perennial power Florida State, a top-10 ranked Kentucky team and a top-25 ranked Louisville team - all on the road. Xavier beat then-No. 8 Kentucky in extra innings on Feb. 20 and also earned wins over USC Upstate and Presbyterian in South Carolina. The Musketeers have appeared in NCAA Regionals in three of the last four years.

Joe Gellenbeck is the Musketeers' top hitter with a .452 average, .677 slugging percentage and .514 on-base percentage. His five extra-base hits (three doubles, two triples) and four RBIs are also team highs. Connor Grammes has started all eight of Xavier's games and is right behind Gellenbeck with 12 hits and a .343 batting average. Right-hander Henry Miller has been XU's top starter with a 3.09 ERA in two starts, while Trey Schramm has been a go-to reliever with a 2.61 ERA and 2-1 record in 10 1/3 innings pitched.

Brett Rasso was one of the top sacrifice bunters in the country last season and he is back at it again this year. Rasso ranks third in the nation and leads the WCC with four sacrifices, and he is No. 1 in the country with 0.57 per game.

Saint Mary's goes back on the road next weekend for a four-game series at Pac-12 member Washington State. The series starts Thursday and runs through Sunday. Fans can find all live coverage links on



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