West Notebook: UCLA, LMU PrevailAt The Ballpark
LOS ANGELES — “I mean it’s going to come down to the final weekend. It seemingly always does.”
You could call Loyola Marymount head coach Jason Gill prescient for his early April comments about how the West Coast Conference was shaping up, but it’s common knowledge in the WCC that there’s always some drama during the regular season’s final series.
Four teams make it to the WCC Tournament in Stockton, Calif. and every year as Gill put it, “There’s going to be six teams playing for four spots. Three of them are going to be playing for first. Three are going to be playing for fourth.”
Entering the final weekend this year, two teams had clinched spots in the tournament. Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s just needed to win one game to lock up the other two spots while Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara needed to sweep.
Gonzaga took care of business against Santa Clara and set its sights on seeding, but Saint Mary’s has seen its two top pitchers be dismantled by Loyola Marymount’s tough offensive approach. The Lions beat Kevin Milam on Friday and handed conference pitcher of the year contender Ken Waldichuk a 9-4 loss Saturday night.
“I don’t think he was throwing his offspeed for strikes the way he usually does,” Gill said. “It enabled us to work deep counts and work his pitch count and kind of tire him out.”
“They just put together really tough at-bats and I think they did a good job with two strikes and got to the next pitch,” Saint Mary’s head coach Eric Valenzuela said. “He’s been good all year. That’s his worst outing obviously. They were just tougher.”