BSB | 7 Memorable Moments & Movements From '17
SMCGaels.com reviews seven memorable moments and movements from the 2017 season in honor of fall practice starting on Oct. 7.
MORAGA, Calif. — The Saint Mary’s baseball team officially opened fall practice on Saturday. SMCGaels.com honors the return of fall ball on Oct. 7 with seven memorable moments and movements from the 2017 season:
AN “ALMOST” UPSET OF NO. 1 OREGON STATE
Saint Mary’s hosted the unanimous No. 1-ranked team in the country on March 28 in Oregon State, who was riding a 15-game winning streak. The Gaels were one strike away from winning with a 3-1 lead and two outs in the ninth inning, but OSU rallied for three runs, escaping Louis Guisto Field with a 4-3 victory. The Gaels had full counts to three consecutive batters, but a single and back-to-back walks loaded the bases and gave OSU its first run of the rally. Then it was Nick Madrigal, SMC’s Ty Madrigal’s brother, who drove home the tying and go-ahead runs with a two-run single. Saint Mary’s stranded 10 runners on base that day, including seven in scoring position.
BACK IN THE WCC TOURNAMENT
On a Senior Day already full of festivities, the Gaels clinched their second consecutive berth in the West Coast Conference Tournament with a runaway 14-3 win over South Bay rival Santa Clara on May 22. Drew Strotman posted a dominant eight-inning performance while striking out a career-high 14 batters. Joey Fiske went 2 for 4, extending his hitting streak to 13 at the time. The Gaels scored 11 runs across the sixth and seventh innings, including a grand slam off the bat of Kevin Milam, his 12th home run of the 2017 season.
GAELS BASH BEARS, 24-7
Saint Mary’s gave its East Bay neighbor and rival California a rude welcome on April 11 in the programs’ first meeting in seven years, as the Gaels scored a modern-day record 24 runs on 18 hits, beating the Bears 24-7 at Louis Guisto Field. The Gaels hit four home runs that day, including Kevin Milam’s first-inning grand slam that gave the Gaels the lead for good. Seven Saint Mary’s batters had multi-hit games, nine different Gaels drove in runs and 10 scored runs. Edward Haus, Joe Vranesh and Jackson Thoreson joined Milam with long balls of their own.
TWO GAELS DRAFTED IN TOP-5
Saint Mary’s once again saw success in the annual Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft with junior right-handed pitcher Drew Strotman and junior infielder Zach Kirtley both being selected in the top-five rounds. The Tampa Bay Rays picked Strotman in the fourth round with the 109th overall pick. Kirtley was taken by the St. Louis Cardinals in the fifth round with the 154th overall pick. The selections gave the Gaels five picks in the top-10 rounds over the last two years (2016, ’17), including two pitchers in the fourth round. Strotman finished the 2017 season with 18 appearances and a team high 75 strikeouts. Kirtley-batted .292, slugged .439 and led SMC with an on-base percentage of .433, hitting five home runs, 16 doubles and had 42 RBIs.
The Gaels were truly the comeback kings last season. 22 of their 37 victories came when they had trailed at some point during the game, including 10 of their last 15 as they headed to the postseason. SMC went 17-10 in 2017 when its opponent scored first. The team hit four tying or go-ahead home runs in the seventh inning or later, including Kevin Milam’s walk-off solo shot to beat Santa Clara on May 20.
PLENTY OF POWER
The Gaels lost three sluggers following the 2016 season, but they would go on to hit even more home runs in 2017. Eight different Gaels combined to hit 41 home runs in 2017, three more than 2016’s total of 38. Kevin Milam led the way with 12, including three grand slams. Saint Mary’s hit six grand slams in 2017. Home runs played a big part in helping the Gaels come from behind to win 22 times – 19 of the team’s 41 home runs either tied the game or put the Gaels ahead. The Gaels also had a flare for the exciting late in games, hitting 18 homers in the seventh inning or later.
MILAM SEVEN TIMES AN ALL-AMERICAN
Freshman two-way player Kevin Milam could not have had a bigger breakout year for Saint Mary’s than the one he had in 2017, and he was recognized handsomely for it. Milam was named an All-American seven times, as well as being named the 2017 WCC Freshman of the Year. He was twice named an overall All-American third teamer (Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, D1Baseball.com) and was named a first-team Freshman All-American five times (Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, D1Baseball.com, NCBWA, Perfect Game). He was also placed on the all-WCC Second Team and the all-WCC Freshmen Team. Milam batted .313 with 12 home runs (three grand slams), 14 doubles and 55 RBIs. He slugged a team-high .547 and added 45 runs scored, 23 walks and a .397 on-base percentage. On the mound, Milam led SMC with 22 appearances – all in relief. He posted a 3-1 record and 2.27 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings pitched. He limited opponents to a .191 batting average while only allowing 10 earned runs.
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