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Loyola Re-Ignites Offense, Sweeps Santa Clara

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

When Loyola Marymount’s bats are singing, Coach Chris Smith feels like dancing.

Smith had happy feet Saturday afternoon as the Lions thumped out 29 hits in 10-2 and 15-4 victories over visiting Santa Clara University.

“We haven’t been in tune much lately,” Smith said, after watching his team cap a three-game weekend series sweep. “But we were very much in tune today.”

The Lions (41-13), ranked ninth in the nation, solidified their first-place footing in the West Coast Conference, pulling 3 1/2 games ahead of Pepperdine, which was swept Saturday in a double-header at the University of San Francisco. Loyola is now 24-7 in the WCC.

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Miah Bradbury, Loyola’s senior All-American catcher, ripped a pair of titanic home runs. He smashed his 13th of the season over the left-field fence in the first game and his 14th off Santa Clara reliever Burch Boehner in the second game, narrowly missing the top of the screen above the fence.

Bradbury wasn’t alone. Tim Williams hit his 12th home run of the year in the first game. And Tony Kounas’ homer in the second game--his team-high 15th--might have been the best of the bunch. Santa Clara left fielder J.J. Beene just looked up in his tracks and watched Kounas’ supersonic two-run drive, which landed even higher on the screen in left than Bradbury’s.

Saturday, Loyola’s effort was infectious from the top of the batting order to the bottom.

Leadoff man Rick Mediavilla went eight for nine with four runs batted in on the double-header, raising his team-high batting average to .418.

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The No. 9 batter, second baseman Kevin Van de Brake, had lifted Loyola to a 6-5 victory in Friday’s series opener with a 13th-inning homer. Then on Saturday he went five for eight with three doubles and five RBIs.

The Lions also got fine pitching from Jon Willard (11-3), who picked up the victory in the opener, and right-hander Joe Caruso (8-3), who got the win in the second game.

Caruso allowed only four singles in 8 1/3 innings of work. He came in after starter Steve Surico gave up three runs in the first. Caruso yielded a run on three hits in the third, but settled down to pitch six no-hit innings after that.

Loyola didn’t commit an error in either game.

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Smith was particularly happy with Loyola’s three-game sweep, which came after the Lions had lost three out of four games to the University of San Diego and Long Beach State.

“They just took us apart in those games,” Smith said. “But we’re firing on all our pistons now.”


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