The USD baseball team overcame an off night in the field to rally for five runs in the 8th inning to escape with a 9-8 WCC victory over the Saint Mary’s Gaels. With the win the Toreros even their season record at 17-17, and more importantly move to 7-6 in the WCC standings.
Saint Mary’s scored one run in the top of the first against starter Paul Richan, but the Toreros answered with three runs on four hits in the bottom half to take an early lead. Brhet Bewleyknocked in the first run with an RBI single and would eventually score on Daniel Gardner’s double. USD’s second run of the inning was courtesy of a balk by Gaels starter Nick Frank.
USD extended their lead to 4-1 in the third when Kevin Collard, the reigning Rawlings WCC Player of the Week, roped an RBI single to right that plated Shane McGuire. The Gaels would score twice in the fourth on two hits and two Torero errors.
Saint Mary’s (17-15, 6-7 WCC) tacked on three more runs in the 7th for a 6-4 lead on three hits and one more Torero error. Jackson Thoreson knocked an RBI single and Eddie Haus added a two-run single off of reliever Anthony Donatella. In the 8th Austin Piscotty hit a leadoff home run to left off of Gabriel Ponce and Matt Green would add a sacrifice fly RBI to push the SMC lead to 8-4.
In the bottom of the 8th USD opened with an Otsuka infield single and McGuire walk. The Gaels called in closer Michael Hobbs from the bullpen who entered the game with eight saves to his record along with 28 strikeouts to just six walks. Hobbs walked Jay Schuyler to load the bases, and followed with a walk to Bewley to get USD within 8-5. Collard delivered a line drive sacrifice fly to right that scored McGuire. Daniel Gardner looped a single to right to move runners up and load the bases with one out. Jeff Houghtby followed with a single to center to get USD within 8-7 and knock Hobbs out of the game. The rally continued when Dante Gutierrez supplied a pinch-hit two-run single to right to give the Toreros back the lead at 9-8. All told USD scored five runs on four hits in the inning against the Gaels.
Travis Kuhn came in to close out the 9th inning for his first save of the season. He opened the inning with a walk before getting the next three batters out in order. Gabriel Ponce (3-2) picked up the win in 1.1 innings of work. Tora Otsuka went 2-for-5 with two runs; Shane McGuirescored three runs; and Brhet Bewley, Kevin Collard and Dante Gutierrez each knocked in two runs.
These two teams return to Fowler Park on Saturday for a 5:00 p.m. contest.