April 6, 2003
Los Angeles, CA - A pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth inning handed Loyola Marymount its fifth consecutive win and a three-game series sweep of Saint Mary's. Lion freshman James Cooper drove in six RBI, including the tying and game-winner, in LMU's 12-11 victory, at Page Stadium Sunday afternoon. The victory upped LMU's record to 21-12 overall, 8-4 in the league, while the Gaels dropped to 13-19, 4-8 in the WCC.
Trailing by a run in the ninth, Cooper lined a bases-loaded single to centerfield, scoring Sean Smith and Joe Silva for his second game-winning RBI of the season. Cooper also had the winning knock in LMU's 5-4 victory over Cal Poly on Feb. 21.
Cooper led the Lions' attack against the Gaels going 3-for-5, with one of LMU's five doubles. Jonathan Higashi also went 3-for-5 with a double, two runs and a RBI, as Mike Harris, Nick Conte, Tim Spooner and Bryan Byrne all had three hits for the Gaels.
Harris' first home run of the season, in the top of the ninth, gave SMC an 11-10 edge, setting up Cooper's heroics. Conte posted five RBI, while Preston Young also drove in six.
The Gaels took the initial lead for the third consecutive time against LMU. With two out in the first inning, Spooner and Byrne reached base and scored on a Conte double to left-centerfield to take a 2-0 advantage.
The Lions mounted a two-out rally of their own in the bottom of the second inning. With two down, Gael starting pitcher Matt Yourkin walked Whitesell and gave up a ringing single to Carl Stoeber. Cooper followed with his fourth double of the season, down the leftfield line to tie the game at two.
Saint Mary's answered with a run in the top of third inning with as Conte drove in his third RBI of the game on a sacrifice fly ball. But the Lions battled back in the bottom of the fifth.
Doubles by LMU's Billy Lockin and Higashi tied the game at three, until a base hit by Jonathan Oller put the Lions up 4-3. The damage chased Yourkin from the game, as both teams used four different pitchers.
Gael relief pitcher Jeremy Gonzales didn't fare much better in the bottom of the sixth inning, as the Lions scored three runs to up their lead to 7-3. The frame was highlighted by a Whitesell double, as Stoeber, Cooper and Lockin all recorded a RBI. Whitesell now has a team-high 15 doubles on the season.
Saint Mary's exploded for five runs in the top of the seventh inning, taking an 8-7 lead. The Gaels were aided by a pair of LMU errors, as the Gaels batted around their batting order.
Higashi, Oller and Smith led off the bottom of the seventh with consecutive singles. A pair of sacrifice fly balls from Whitesell and Stoeber, along with a RBI single by Cooper cleared the bases, giving LMU a 10-8 lead.
Saint Mary's tied the game with a pair of runs in the top of the eighth inning as five of the first Gaels reached base in the frame. Conte and Sam Battle provided RBI singles, but LMU's Joshua Muecke came on two retire a pair of Gaels to escape the inning.
Muecke earned the victory to up his record to 3-2. The junior southpaw allowed just one hit, Harris' home run, in 1.2 innings of work, while striking out one. Lion starter Justin Abreu had another solid outing. The senior allowed just three runs on nine hits in six innings, leaving the game with LMU leading 7-3.
The Gaels will continue West Coast Conference action on Friday, April 11 when they host the Portland Pilots. First pitch is scheduled for 3:00 PM on Louis Guisto Field.