Smart’s Homer Keeps Championship Hopes Alive
Jamey Smart belted a go-ahead three-run homer in the top of the 10th.
With the game tied at three in the top of the 10th, Jamey Smart launched a two-out three-run homer to lift LMU (36-16, 19-7 WCC) past Portland (10-40-1, 5-21 WCC), 6-4, on Saturday night from Joe Etzel Field.
The win for LMU kept the Lions in the race for a share of the regular-season West Coast Conference title, as the Lions will now hope for Gonzaga to beat BYU on Saturday and ultimately win the finale at Portland to force a three-way tie for first place.
The Lions scored three runs in the first inning, and despite Portland scoring once in the third and seventh, that lead held up all the way into the ninth. Down to its final at bats, Portland managed to crawl even on Ryan Hoogerwerf’s seventh homer of the season – a leadoff shot to left field.
Cooper Uhl got the 10th inning going with a single to shortstop before Niko Decolati punched a two-out single through the right side. After Spencer Erdman, who went 1-for-4 to extend his hit streak to 20 games, flew out, Smart connected for what proved to be the game-winner.
Decolati finished the game 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored, while Smart was 3-for-5 with two runs scored, a double, the homer and three driven in.
The home run from Smart was hit off of Tate Budnick, as the right-hander took the loss and fell to 1-10. Codie Paiva, who struck out five over the final 3.0 innings for LMU, earned the victory after blowing the save in the ninth. The right-hander moved to 6-0 on the season with the decision.
Although the offensive heroics handed LMU the victory, LMU’s work on the mound was possibly more impressive, as starter Cory Abbott struck out a career-best 16 hitters to guide LMU to 21 punch outs. The right-hander ultimately took a no-decision thanks to Hoogerwerf, but he allowed just two runs (one earned) on four hits and three walks. He will finish WCC play with a miniscule 0.27 ERA (two earned runs in 67 innings of work) against WCC teams. That conference ERA is a new WCC season record, topping Dana Hendershott (USF) who posted a 0.60 ERA in 1971.
The 16 strikeouts tied an LMU program record set by Sandor Demosthenes on April 19, 1996 against Gonzaga. The 21 team strikeouts are also the most for the Lions since at least 1998 (complete game records are documented through 1998).
LMU, which is now 4-1 in extra-inning games this year, will look to sweep the series, and win a share of the WCC title if Gonzaga beats BYU on Saturday, as it will send right-hander Blake Redman to the mound at 1 p.m. on Sunday in the regular-season finale.
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