MORAGA, Calif. – A five run seventh inning, fueled by a Gaels’ grand slam, led to a 6-4 loss for the Torero baseball team (29-16-1, 15-9) at Saint Mary’s Sunday afternoon. USD held a 2-1 lead before the big inning for the Gaels; the Toreros rallied in the ninth, scoring two and putting the tying run on first base with one out before ultimately stranding the runners and losing the series.
Joey Fiske led off the bottom of the first with a single to center. After he was sacrificed to second, he stole third and then came in to score on a Zach Kirtley sacrifice fly to right. Following Fiske’s lead-off single, Torero starter Paul Richan retired the next 17 hitters.
The Toreros tied the game in the top of the third inning. Hunter Mercado-Hood and Riley Adams singled to set up clean-up hitter Roman Garcia, who brought Mercado-Hood home with a single to center. This was Garcia’s sixth RBI of the series.
USD took the lead in the following inning after loading the bases with three singles for Jay Schuyler, who also singled to give USD a 2-1 lead and extend his on-base streak to 31 games.
Richan was cruising along until the seventh inning when he gave up a double and a single to start the inning. Coach Hill brought in Jonathan Teaney, who gave up an RBI single to Kevin Milam. Teaney got the next batter out and then intentionally walked Jackson Thoreson to load the bases and set up the double play ball. Austin Chauvin then blasted a 1-0 pitch over the left field wall for a grand slam, giving the Gaels a 6-2 lead.
The Toreros didn’t go away quietly in the top of the ninth. After the leadoff hitter stuck out, the Toreros ripped off four straight singles to close the gap to 6-4 and put the tying run on first base. However, the Gaels’ Kevin Milan was able to retire the next two batters to secure the series win for Saint Mary’s. The Toreros out-hit the Gaels 13-7, but struck out 13 times and stranded ten runners; Saint Mary’s did not leave a single runner on base.
Despite a strong performance, Paul Richan (4-2) was hung with the loss after giving up three runs on four hits in six innings. Teaney was charged with two runs over the final two innings.
Saint Mary’s Drew Strotman (5-1) earned the win, pitching seven innings and giving up two runs.
With the loss, the Toreros fall to 15-9 in conference play, but still hold a slim half-game lead over Saint Mary’s (13-8) for fourth place. The top four teams advance to the WCC Championships at the end of May.
USD has just one more conference series remaining (Pepperdine; May 19-21). They host Sacramento State next weekend after visiting UC Irvine on Tuesday for a 6:30 p.m. game.
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