The Seattle University baseball team used another solid pitching outing from its starter as well as timely hitting to establish a lead, and then the Redhawks held off a San Jose State rally for a 6-3 Western Athletic Conference victory over the Spartans Sunday afternoon at Municipal Stadium.
There were few base runners for both teams until the top of the fifth inning, when Nick Latta (Tacoma, Wash.) and Cash McGuire (Kent, Wash.) drew back-to-back walks with one out. Jason Kafka replaced starter Johnny Melero on the mound for San Jose State, but he gave up a single to pinch hitter Cullen Hendrickson (Auburn, Wash.), allowing Latta to come around and score the game’s first run.
Chase Fields (Ontario, Ore.) drew a walk to load the bases with one out, and the Spartans responded with another pitching change, bringing in Kyle Hassna. Landon Cray (Chimacum, Wash.) greeted Hassna with a bases-clearing triple down the right field line, and he would score on a sacrifice fly to center field by Nate Roberts (Silverdale, Wash.), giving the Redhawks a 5-0 lead.
The Redhawks added another run in the sixth inning as Latta drew a walk, stole second and advanced to third when no one was at second base to take the throw from the catcher. He would score on a single to right field by Hendrickson.
San Jose State (14-29, 8-10 WAC) broke through in the bottom of the sixth thanks in part to a Redhawk error. With two outs and Sheldon Daquioag on first base, Matt Carroll reached on an infield single, and Jacob Valdez followed with a single to center field, driving in Daquioag to bring the Spartans back to within five at 6-1.
Andrew Olson (Enumclaw, Wash.) put together another quality start, allowing seven hits and one unearned run in 6 2/3 innings. After giving up back-to-back singles with one out in the seventh, he struck out the final batter he faced before giving way to Connor Moore (West Richland, Wash.), who induced a flyout to end the Spartan scoring threat.
The Spartans closed the gap in the bottom of the eighth as Valdez drew a two-out walk and Nick Schulz followed with a two-run home run inside the left field foul pole. After Tim Quiery drew a walk, Eric Yardley (Richland, Wash.) replaced Moore on the mound and picked up a strikeout to end the inning. In the ninth inning, San Jose State picked up an infield single and a double with two outs, but Yardley worked his way out of the jam for his ninth save of the season.
“AO answered the call on Sunday once again in a must-win series. Cullen sparked us off the bench with two key RB, and Landon got it done in a big situation. This is good momentum for us going into the Oregon series,” Seattle U head baseball coach Donny Harrel said.
Seattle University (17-25, 7-10 WAC) heads back home to begin a stretch of six consecutive games in the Puget Sound area. That string starts with a two-game midweek series against nationally-ranked Oregon, beginning Tuesday, April 30, at Everett Memorial Stadium at 6 p.m. Tickets for that game are on sale through the Everett AquaSox ticket office. The Redhawks will then face the Ducks at Bannerwood Park Wednesday, May 1, at 4 p.m., followed by a three-game home WAC series against Sacramento State May 3-5 and a road game at Washington Tuesday, May 7.