Seattle University opens up season at Bannerwood Park with loss to St. Martin's

Redhawks third baseman Josh Kalalau, center, is congratulated at home plate after a home run against St. Martin
Redhawks third baseman Josh Kalalau, center, is congratulated at home plate after a home run against St. Martin's at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue on Tuesday, February 23.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Bellevue Reporter

Someone forgot to tell St. Martin's University that it's rude to crash someone else's party.

The Saints, a Division II school in Lacey, spoiled Seattle University's first Division I home game in 30 years, beating the Redhawks 21-7 at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue.

This season is the first for the Redhawks as a competitive baseball team since 1986, when the team still played in the NAIA, and the first Division I game since 1980.

Because of the campus's urban setting, the team decided to play all home games at Bannerwood, and Tuesday's game was the first of an early year that has the Redhawks struggling after dropping their season opening set at Washington State University last weekend.

The Saints (3-9) pounded out 17 hits and scored four or more runs in five innings in the win.

"Our pitching staff just doesn't have the ability to keep guys off balance yet," said Seattle University coach Donny Harrell. "We're not doing a good job of getting out of hitter's counts."

Scoreless after two innings, the Saints got things started in the fourth inning when Aaron Johnson followed up a Matt Marcoe sacrifice fly with a three-run home run off of Redhawks starter Brandon Kizer.

But the Redhawks charged back to tie the game in the bottom of the inning when third baseman Josh Kalalau and second baseman Nate Roberts both hit two-run homers to even things out at four.

"Pressure doesn't get to those guys," Harrell said. "Those are definitely two of our best guys and they show up in those situations."

Unfortunately for Seattle U, it was the last time the game would be close.

Johnson added a two-run double as part of a five-run fifth and the Saints pulled away for good off of reliever Max Whieldon (0-1).

Johnson, Marcoe and Travis Jones did much of the damage at the plate for the Saints. Johnson went 4 for 7 with two doubles, a home run and eight RBIs for Saint Martin's, while Marcoe and Jones each added four RBIs.

Andrew Elke and Blaine Evans each scored four runs for the Saints.

Thomas DeBoer (2-1) got the win for St. Martin's, going 2 and 1/3 innings, allowing two hits and no runs. Whieldon took the loss as he allowed four runs (two earned) in one inning of relief.

The Redhawks, who lost 11-6 and 23-0 to WSU last weekend, couldn't get started offensively, managing only seven hits. Kalalau, Roberts and Riley Tompkins all went 2 for 4.

"Hey, we're not there yet," Harrell said. "We just have to have some patience with our guys. As much as we think we should be better, we have to keep plugging away and taking those baby steps."

The Redhawks (0-3) now begin a nine-game road trip and will play the second of a three-game series with the University of Portland today at 1 p.m.

Program coming from the ground up

This year marks the 30th year since Seattle University has fielded a D1 baseball team. The school hired Harrell, a former University of Washington assistant coach to take over and build the program. The Redhawks were able to sign 21 of the 25 players they targeted for scholarships last season and received several talented transfers from other programs, including outfielders Doug Buser (University of Oklahoma) and Phil Parrish (University of Kansas) and former University of Hawaii-Hilo pitcher Brian Shannon. Buser is the only senior on the team. The Redhawks sport 15 freshman, four sophomores and eight juniors.

"We want to be competitive right off of the bat, but we realize it's going to be a growing experience," Harrell said. "It's a scary time because when we take the field, we don't have any experience. We're going to grow together as a club, good or bad."

One thing the team is excited about is playing at Bannerwood. Harrell says he hopes to have Seattle University baseball become known as the "Division I team on the Eastside of the lake" and said his team already feels like it is truly at home at Bannerwood.

"When we walk through the gate, it really feels like home," Harrell said. "It's going to be a tremendous environment for people to come in and watch baseball."

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