Lions Sweep Past Saint Mary's in Finale, 5-3
LMU earned its first weekend series sweep on Sunday, beating Saint Mary's to start WCC play.
April 1, 2012
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The LMU baseball team (11-12, 3-0 WCC) earned its first series sweep of the year on Sunday, besting Saint Mary's (14-12, 1-5 WCC) by a score of 5-3 in the series finale being played at LMU's Page Stadium. LMU got another stellar pitching performance as John Lally went seven innings and allowed just one run on four hits and one walk while striking out four to improve to 2-2.
Junior Colton Plaia continued to swing a hot bat on Sunday, finishing 1-for-2 with a home run, three runs scored, a walk, a hit-by-pitch and two RBI out of the fourth spot in the order. The round-tripper was the third of the year for Plaia, and the second of the weekend. Over the three games against Saint Mary's, Plaia hit .500 (5-for-10) with four runs scored, two home runs and seven RBI. He slugged 1.100 and reached at a .583 clip.
Aaron Griffin was the first of three relievers used on Sunday for LMU, tossing a scoreless eighth inning before Ryan Hawthorne took the ball to start the ninth. The left-hander allowed a pair of runs on two hits while getting one out before closer Bret Dahlson recorded the final two outs to earn his third save of the year, including his second in as many days.
Right-hander Kyle Barraclough got the start and took the loss for Saint Mary's, allowing a pair of runs on three hits over six innings to fall to 1-4. Barraclough struck out seven Lion hitters, but also walked six and hit one.
After a scoreless three and a half innings, LMU broke through with its first hit and run of the game in the fourth. The Lions drew walks in the first and third innings, but could not plate a run as the tally stayed scoreless into the bottom of the fourth. A pair of free passes helped LMU to the lead in the inning, as Plaia was hit by a pitch with one out before a two-out walk to David Edwards put runners at first and second. Shon Roe picked a great time to collect LMU's first hit of the day, shooting a single through the left side to plate Plaia and put the Lions on the board.
Saint Mary's got back to even with a run in the top of the sixth, benefitting from poor communication by the Lions defensively in shallow left field. A one-out single from Ricky Boas to second base got the inning going before Cole Norton lifted a fly ball to shallow left field that sent Matt Lowenstein racing in and Scott Harkin racing out from shortstop. The two players converged on the ball, but neither was able to make the play as it fell in between them both for a single. A hit-by-pitch followed to load the bases, setting the table for a sacrifice fly off the bat of Collin Ferguson to centerfield. Lally did well to escape further damage, punching out Patrick Wisdom to end the inning and keep the tally knotted at one.
The Lions responded well in the bottom of the sixth, reclaiming the one-run lead at 2-1, but the damage could have been more as the Lions loaded the bases with nobody out. Plaia and Harkin both drew walks to start the inning before Edwards put a beautiful bunt down the third base line for a single to load the bases. Barraclough did all he could to limit the damage in a bad spot, getting a pair of outs on a double play ball up the middle, but the two outs came at the cost of the go-ahead run when Plaia scampered in from third. A third walk in the inning to Mitchell Esser left runners at the corners, but Barraclough got Alex Guthrie to chop a ball to third base to end the frame.
The lead stretched to 5-1 in the seventh as LMU exploded for three, highlighted by Plaia's second home run of the series - a two-run shot. With Jordan Mills now on the hill for Saint Mary's, Lowenstein drew a walk before moving to second on a sacrifice bunt from Zac Fujimoto. Cullen Mahoney extended his hitting streak to 15 straight games with a RBI-double down the right field line on a 1-2 pitch to plate the first run of the inning before Plaia connected on an opposite-field homer on the ensuing play to cap the scoring run.
Just as they did in Saturday's game, the Gaels continued to fight in the ninth inning, scoring twice and putting the tying run at second base before succumbing to the 5-3 setback. Ferguson led things off with a double before a single and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases with nobody out. A sacrifice fly from Brendan Kalfus scored the first Saint Mary's run of the frame before LMU elected to make a call to the bullpen and summon Dahlson. The right-hander struck out pinch-hitter Shawn O'Brien for the second out before Donald Collins doubled into the left field corner to plate Wisdom and leave runners at second and third. Dahlson managed to shut the door on the comeback bid on the ensuing play, inducing a soft liner back to the mound from Darian Ramage to end the game and seal the series sweep.
LMU will return to action on Tuesday when it travels to Cal State Northridge for a game at 3 p.m.