Two out of three isn’t bad, Loyola Marymount Coach Chris Smith figures.
The struggling University of San Francisco scraped out a wild 10-inning, 10-9 victory in the nightcap of Saturday afternoon’s West Coast Conference double-header and kept Loyola from sweeping the three-game weekend series at Loyola’s Page Stadium.
After the loss, Smith wasn’t jumping for joy, but he wasn’t exactly steaming mad, either.
“This ain’t football,” Smith said. “It’s not like we’re the Nebraska football team and they’re Kansas State and we’re going to blow them off the field just because we’re physically stronger.
“This is baseball. We may have a few more gifted players than they do, but it doesn’t mean we’re going to win every time. That’s why you have to play 60 games.”
With Saturday’s split, the 15th-ranked Lions are 18-8 overall and 8-3 in conference play. San Francisco is 9-16-1 and 4-11.
Loyola hammered out 16 hits--including home runs by Tim Williams (his third) and freshman third baseman Bobby Hughes (his fourth)--to win the opener, 9-3.
But in the second game, San Francisco left-hander Ted Langowski held the Lions to only two hits through the first six innings.
The Dons took an 8-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh. San Francisco right fielder Arnie Sambel and Langowski both had RBI doubles, and Sambel and second baseman Brian Dakin had home runs.
Loyola came back with three runs in the seventh and added another in the eighth on left fielder Tony Kounas’ fifth home run of the season--a mammoth drive over the left-field fence. That cut San Francisco’s lead to 8-5.
The Dons got an insurance run in the top of the ninth when Dusty Steenvoorde doubled to drive home catcher Jim West.
But Loyola struck back in the bottom of the ninth. Williams and Joe Testa led off the inning with singles, and after two outs, shortstop Chris Gomez and Joe Ciccarella lined back-to-back RBI singles to right field to chase Langowski off the mound.
Gomez went to third and then scored on consecutive wild pitches by San Francisco reliever Marc Pecha. After Pecha walked the Lions’ Miah Bradbury, John Homitz came on to face Kounas. Homitz bounced his first pitch in the dirt for a wild pitch, allowing Ciccarella to race home from third with the tying run, before getting Kounas to pop up for the third out.
Dakin opened the top of the 10th by lining a fastball from Loyola’s Darryl Scott off the tarpaulin above the left field fence for a double. He went to third on a sacrifice bunt by shortstop Paolo Della Bordella.
Smith brought in his corner infielders to cut off the run at the plate but kept the middle infielders back to stop a fluke hit from going through. When Langowski fisted a grounder to short, Gomez’s only play was to first, and Dakin scored the go-ahead run.
“If I would have played the whole infield in, we could have given up a bleeder ball to open up a big inning,” Smith said. “I have confidence in our offense, and I had no doubt that we would score. One run is a very meager number for our offense.”
At it turned out, it was one run too many. Williams lined a one-out single to left, but West gunned him down trying to steal, and Homitz (2-1) struck out pinch-hitter Tim Byrne to end the game.
Scott, who picked up the win in relief in Friday’s 9-7 Loyola victory, was the losing pitcher in Saturday’s finale. His record is 4-2.
Sophomore right-hander Joe Caruso went the distance to get the win for Loyola in the first game Saturday, scattering 11 hits along the way. Caruso improved his record to 3-0 with four saves.
Kounas and Williams each had five hits in the double-header to lead the Lions. Senior catcher Bradbury, who had four hits Saturday, went seven for 13 in the three-game series.