Lions Open WCC Play with 9-4 Victory Over Saint Mary's
Junior Colton Plaia had a career-high five RBI while freshman Colin Welmon went eight innings.
March 30, 2012
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The LMU (9-12, 1-0) offense came to play on Friday, scoring nine runs on 11 hits, including five doubles, en route to beating Saint Mary's (14-10, 1-3) by a count of 9-4 to open West Coast Conference play. Junior Colton Plaia finished 3-for-4 with a career-best five RBI out of the fifth spot in the order to pace the Lion offense and extend his hitting streak to seven games. Despite not having his best stuff, freshman Colin Welmon went eight innings and allowed four runs with four strikeouts to improve to 4-1. The right-hander, who had his scoreless innings streak snapped at 25, has now thrown 29.2 innings without walking a batter.
In addition to Plaia, junior Matt Lowenstein also had a stellar day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI out of the leadoff spot. Freshman David Edwards rounded out the multi-hit performers for LMU, finishing 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles, two runs scored and a RBI. LMU's six extra-base hits were a season high.
Each of the first three hitters in the Saint Mary's order finished with two hits, including Troy Channing who went 2-for-3 with a run scored, a home run and two RBI. Collin Ferguson also went deep for the Gaels, snapping Welmon's 25 scoreless inning streak in the second.
Left-hander Ben Griset tossed the first six innings for Saint Mary's, allowing seven runs on eight hits and four walks while striking out three en route to falling to 2-2 with the loss.
LMU's offense came out strong in the first inning, plating two runs on two hits, including a two-RBI single from Plaia with two out. Lowenstein got the inning going with a single back up the middle to extend his hitting streak to nine games. An Alex Guthrie hit-by-pitch put runners at first and second before Cullen Mahoney put down a beautiful sacrifice bunt to move the runners up 90 feet. A shallow pop fly down the right field line failed to plate a runner, but Plaia came up and delivered on a two-RBI single through the left side on the first pitch of the next at bat to put the Lions on the board.
Ferguson single-handedly ended Welmon's scoreless innings streak at 25 innings in the top of the second, belting his second home run of the year over the wall in right field to cut the deficit to 2-1. The right-hander did well to rebound, retiring the next three in order.
The Lions got back to business offensively in the second, plating a run on a RBI-single from Joey Boney to bring in Edwards and hand LMU a 3-1 lead. The freshman Edwards lined a double inside the bag at third with one out before Boney got on top of a fastball and delivered it into left field to bring in a racing Edwards from second.
Saint Mary's used the home run once again to cut the deficit to one run, this time benefitting from a Channing home run to left centerfield to start the fourth, running the tally to 3-2. Channing connected on a 1-2 pitch and sent it over the wall for the second home run of the game for the Gaels and the first of the year for Channing.
Doubles were the key to success in the fourth for LMU, as the Lions connected for three to the tune of two runs to extend the lead to 5-2. Nick Devian opened the inning with a double down the left field line on a 3-2 pitch before he was put out on the bases trying to advance to third on a one-hop grounder to the right side. Edwards continued his solid day, notching his second double of the game into the left centerfield gap to plate a hustling Raubinger all the way from first. Lowenstein capped the inning two batters later when he lined a double of his own into the left field corner to score Edwards.
Plaia pushed the Lion advantage to 7-2 in the fifth, connecting on his second home run of the year over the wall in left centerfield with a man aboard. A one-out walk to Scott Harkin set the table for Plaia's homer on the first pitch of his at bat.
Having surrendered three solo home runs as the only three runs allowed since March 2, Welmon endured a consistent offensive attack from the Gaels in the sixth to the tune of two runs, cutting the deficit to 7-4. Donald Collins led things off with a double down the left field line before Cole Norton split the gap in left centerfield for a RBI-triple. The three-bagger was his third of the year. Channing delivered a line drive toward right centerfield that was dropped by Edwards for an error on the ensuing play, but the ball looked to be deep enough to score the speedy Norton, and was thus ruled a sacrifice fly as the runner came in to score. Welmon did well to escape without further damage, striking out Ferguson and benefitting from a double play to end the frame.
Plaia capped his career day with his third hit and fifth RBI, dribbling an infield single to third base that got under the glove of a charging Patrick Wisdom to bring home Mahoney. Mahoney had led things off with a double to extend his hitting streak to 13 games before a sacrifice bunt from Harkin moved the runner to third with one out. Plaia followed with the RBI, pushing the Lion advantage to 8-4.
Lowenstein capped a stellar day out of the leadoff spot in the eighth, collecting his third hit of the day and second RBI with a single into left field to chase home the pinch runner Zac Fujimoto and push the Lion lead to 9-4. Fujimoto took over for Raubinger after the freshman reached with a leadoff walk.
Bret Dahlson entered in the top of the ninth, pitching around a hit batter to close the door on the Gaels and wrap-up the Lion victory. LMU and Saint Mary's will continue the three-game WCC series tomorrow at 2 p.m.