ALAMEDA, Calif. – The offense was booming for Academy of Art Baseball during Saturday’s Pacific West Conference doubleheader against Holy Names, starting with a program-best three triples during game one as Art U rolled to an 8-5 victory. Meanwhile, in game two, a three-run home run from graduate student catcher Ryan Gamboa set the stage for a fifth-inning comeback as Academy of Art would erase a four-run deficit en route to another 8-5 win (seven innings).
It was a crucial pair of wins for the Urban Knights (13-11, 13-11 PacWest), finishing their final conference games of the season as they keep pace in the battle for the PacWest NorCal pod title. Starting pitching was excellent for Art U in the sweep, as both starters would factor into the decision and earn the victory. In game one, junior right-hander Noah Daubin tossed a quality start by allowing just two earned runs on six hits over six innings with five strikeouts. Fellow junior and righty Collin Carriger would follow it up with just a dazzling effort, as he matched his career-high in innings thanks to a complete-game effort in the shortened second game with four earned runs allowed and a career-best eight strikeouts.
Sophomore center fielder Hayato Niki posted multi-hit games in both contests, going a combined 4-for-5 with two runs batted in, a run scored, and a triple. Along with Niki, junior outfielder Ty Conrad and redshirt junior shortstop Dominic Ruggiero also tallied hits in both games, as Conrad was 3-for-7 with three runs scored while Ruggiero picked up two hits with a pair of runs scored and an RBI.
Game One – Art U 8, HNU 5
The scoring began in the bottom of the second inning with an HNU RBI single when a ball hit to the right side took a big hop and shot into the right field, all coming after Daubin had already notched two strikeouts in the frame. It didn’t take long for Art U to respond, putting up two runs in the home half of the third, both coming with two outs. Ruggiero sent home the first run with the first Urban Knight triple of the game, scoring sophomore third baseman Adam Inouye who had led off the inning with a single. The following batter, Ruggiero would scamper home on a dropped third strike due to a wild pitch.
Adding to the lead in the fourth, it took just two batters to plate a run when graduate student second baseman Justin Summers opened the frame with a single then came home after the third double of the season from sophomore designated hitter Liam Rizzo. HNU stole the run back in the top of the sixth when they returned the favor by scoring a run after consecutive hits with two outs.
Immediately in the bottom of the fame, Art U would re-capture the lead by scoring three times, building the largest lead of the game at the time for either team. It all started with a triple down the right field line and into the corner by Niki, who would subsequently score on the record-setting triple by graduate student outfielder Andrew Shebloski. The three triples are the most in a single game at Art U, topping the record of two that has been achieved eight times, most recently on April 27, 2019, at Corban University. Later, with two retired and two in scoring position, junior first baseman Vincent Lontz brought both home with a single down the left field line on a 1-2 count, pushing the lead to 6-2.
Daubin would exit the game as the seventh began, giving way to junior righty Ryan Skillman, who would toss the remaining three innings to pick up his first career save with a final line of three earned runs allowed on four hits with three strikeouts in three innings pitched. He would receive another pair of important insurance runs in the home half of the seventh, with the Knights scoring a pair of runs thanks to a Niki RBI single and an RBI fielder’s choice with Shebloski at the plate.
Eight of the nine Art U starters would record hits in the game, led by Inouye’s second three-hit game of the year as he was 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. Niki, Rizzo and Shebloski all chipped in two hits and at least one RBI (Niki had two). It was the third win of the season for Daubin, tying graduate student right-hander Matthew Sanchez for the team lead.
Game Two – Art U 8, HNU 5 (7 INNINGS)
The scoring began in the bottom of the second inning with an HNU RBI single when a ball hit to the right side took a big hop and shot into right field, all coming after Daubin had already notched two strikeouts in the frame. It didn’t take long for Art U to respond with Academy of Art putting up two runs in the home half of the third, both coming with two outs. Ruggiero sent home the first run with the first Urban Knight triple of the game, scoring sophomore third baseman Adam Inouye who had led off the inning with a single. The following batter, Ruggiero would scamper home on a dropped third strike due to a wild pitch.
Not even another HNU run in the top of the fifth inning could deter Art U, as the Knights rode the momentum of Gamboa’s homer into the home half of the fifth by scoring a total of five times. The first two crossed home on an error with the bases loaded, while Daubin would put the game out of reach when he banged a two-RBI double off the wall in center field, his fourth double of the season. Another error would force home one last run, scoring what would be the final run of the game.
All of this was not without an impressive pitching performance, as Carriger would toss a career-high 137 pitches while matching his career-best in innings thanks to a complete game effort. He would allow just four earned runs, while also tallying a career-high eight strikeouts. Returning to the mound to close out the game in the seventh, Carriger would allow the first runner to reach base, but would immediately induce a double play to avoid any trouble and pick up his first win of the season.
Two of the most important factors at the plate were Gamboa and Conrad, as Gamboa was 2-for-3 with the ever-important three-run homer, while Conrad was 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored. Niki would pitch in two hits and a walk, while Daubin was 1-for-3 with two RBI and a double.
The next time out for Art U will be in non-conference action against Concordia, as the two teams will meet for a four-game set beginning on April 29 at 2 p.m.