Senior Niko Pacheco launched a pair of homers, and senior Jamey Smart added one of his own, as LMU (24-28, 15-12 WCC) eventually walked-off with a 6-5 win over Saint Mary’s (31-23, 14-13 WCC) in the bottom of the ninth inning on a single from Ryan Ruley to highlight Senior Day and a sweep of the Gaels that will send LMU into the WCC Championship Tournament for the fourth time in the last five years.
HOW IT WAS WON: After Saint Mary’s plated the tying run on a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth, LMU received a one-out single from Brandon Shearer to get things going in the bottom of the ninth. Pacheco followed with a single down the right field line, pushing Shearer to third and setting the table for the potential walk-off. The Lions elected to pinch hit in that spot, summoning Ryan Ruley for the opportunity. Ruley came up clutch with a single through the left side on a 1-1 pitch, sending LMU into celebration mode as they dogpiled in shallow centerfield.
— LMU Lions Baseball (@LMLionsBaseball) May 20, 2018
JOURNEY TO THE TOURNEY: With the sweep of the Gaels, LMU secured the third seed in the upcoming WCC Championship Tournament by way of a tiebreaker over San Francisco. The Dons will be the fourth seed, while WCC Champion Pepperdine will open as the top seed. Gonzaga will be the first opponent for LMU, as the Lions will face the second seed at 7 p.m. on Thursday from Banner Island Ballpark. Pepperdine and San Francisco will play on Thursday at 3 p.m.
WCC Championship Tournament Central
PACHECO AND SMART SHOW SENIOR POWER: Pacheco launched a pair of home runs in the victory for LMU, breaking 3-3 and 4-4 ties in the third and seventh innings, respectively, by way of solo homers. The two-homer game was the second of the year for Pacheco, as he belted a pair on April 27 at Gonzaga. Smart’s round-tripper, his fourth of the year, was equally as big for LMU, as the senior belted a game-tying two-run homer in the third to draw the Lions even at 3-3. Pacheco finished the game 4-for-5 with two runs scored, as he now sports four homers for the season.
BOX SCORE NOTES: LMU managed a season-high tying 17 hits for the second straight game … in addition to Pacheco’s career-high in hits, sophomore Cooper Uhl also posted four hits to set a new career high … Braydon Salzman was credited with the win and moved to 2-0 after recording the final two outs in the ninth inning … Ty Madrigal was saddled with the loss and fell to 3-2 after surrendering two runs on eight hits with six strikeouts over the final 5.1 innings of work … the Lions stranded 12 runners, including leaving them loaded in the fourth and the fifth … LMU used four pitchers in the game, beginning with CJ Fernandezees … Nick Frasso followed with 5.0 innings of one-run ball before Matt Voelker went 2.0 frames and allowed just one run.
LION NOTES: LMU, needing to sweep the series, successfully swept San Francisco in 2015 to earn a spot in Stockton, and the Lions followed suit with the sweep over Saint Mary’s this year … the three home runs are tied for the most in a single game this year for LMU (April 27 at Gonzaga) … the walk-off win was LMU’s third of the year (March 20 vs. Long Beach State; April 15 vs. San Francisco) … Sunday marked the sixth time that LMU won a game in its final at bat this year (last: April 15 vs. San Francisco) … the Lions trailed 3-0 headed into the bottom of the second, and the three-run deficit is the largest overcome this year by the Lions.
ON DECK: LMU will open WCC Tournament play on Thursday with a 7 p.m. game against Gonzaga from Banner Island Ballpark. The Lions are the third seed in the tournament, while the Bulldogs are the second seed.
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