Roberts Tosses Complete Game, Lions Earn 5-4 Victory
Lee Roberts pitched his second complete game of the season.
April 24, 2009
MORAGA, Calif. - Senior Lee Roberts tossed his second complete game of the season as LMU (25-19, 9-4) earned a 5-4 victory over Saint Mary's (23-20, 5-8) on Friday in game one of a three-game West Coast Conference series being played in Moraga, Calif. With a USD loss on Friday to Portland, LMU now sits alone atop the West Coast Conference.
Roberts pitched all nine innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out seven, including four strikeouts against freshman Troy Channing who entered the weekend as the WCC leader in batting average, RBI and home runs. He faced 37 hitters over the course of the game. His last complete game was on March 27 when he shutout Santa Clara over nine innings to open WCC play. His first career complete game came on March 18, 2008 versus Cal State Northridge. Roberts has now lasted at least six innings in eight of his nine starts this year, and has amassed five or more strikeouts in each of his starts. The Lions have now won eight of the 11 games in which Roberts has pitched, including each of his last six starts.
Senior Kyle Spraker paced the Lion offense, finishing 4-for-5 with three doubles, a run scored and a RBI. Fellow senior, T.J. Bernardy, went 1-for-4 with a double and two-RBI. Sophomore Jonathan Johnson hit his first career home run, a solo-shot, in the fourth inning.
Cory Miller was the leader offensively for Saint Mary's, finishing 2-for-5 with a run scored and a triple. Kyle Jensen homered in the loss, his 14th round-tripper of the season, pushing him one-shy of the WCC lead behind Channing. Right-hander Brian Justice was effective as the starter for Saint Mary's, lasting five and a third innings and allowing four runs (three earned) on nine hits and four walks while striking out six batters. Kyle Barraclough, who was tagged with the loss and fell to 3-5 on the year, pitched three and two-thirds, allowing one run on two hits and a walk while punching-out four batters.
The Lions, who stranded 12 runners on base in the victory, scored first in the game, posting a run in the second inning. An error charged to Channing at third base off the bat of Roe proved costly as Bernardy plated the run with a line-drive double down the right field line two batters later.
Saint Mary's wasted no time answering back in the game, taking a 2-1 lead after two innings. Jensen led things off with his 14th home run of the season before Justin Fazio doubled to set the table for the rest of the lineup. After a walk put runners at first and second, the Gaels elected to sacrifice the runners 90 feet, preceding a sacrifice fly off the bat of Chris Murphy to plate the run.
The Lions would knot the game at two runs apiece in the third inning when Spraker doubled down the left field line with one out. Ryan Wheeler followed with the clutch RBI-single on the ensuing play, sending a pitch back up the box to chase home Spraker from second.
LMU advanced the lead to 4-2 in the fourth inning as Johnson connected on a one-out home run to bring home the first of two runs in the inning. Back-to-back two-out walks extended the inning for the heart of the order, and Spraker made the most of the opportunity, driving a RBI-double into the gap in right center to cap the scoring run.
The Gaels once again refused to let the game get too far away, plating two two-out runs to knot the tally once again after five. Michael Gastelum got the ball rolling with a single before Miller singled off of Roberts' foot to put runners at first and second. Anthony Aliottii contributed a RBI-single on the ensuing play, leaving runners at the corners for Channing. Thinking Saint Mary's might put the runner in motion from first, Roberts attempted a fake-to-third-throw-to-first pickoff move, which was called a balk, pushing the game-tying run across the plate. Roberts went on to punch-out Channing, but the run had already evened the contest.
The Lions took what proved to be the game-winning lead with a run in the seventh. Roe doubled to get the ball rolling before Johnson contributed the sacrifice bunt to move him to third. Bernardy once again contributed a big RBI, lifting a sacrifice fly to centerfield to bring home the eventual game-winning run.
Ryan Mulligan nearly sent a triple off the wall to start the bottom of the ninth, but Evan Simonitsch scaled the fence and took the baseball off the wall for the out to start the frame. That catch proved very important as the next hitter singled through the left side, followed by a hit-by-pitch. Roberts settled down nicely in the inning, inducing a fly ball to right and a ground ball to Johnson at second to end the game.
LMU and Saint Mary's will continue the three-game series tomorrow at 1:00 p.m.