BENEDETTI DIAMOND — Friday’s cloudy weather and intermittent rain was a fitting backdrop as USF dropped its fifth straight game, the Dons’ seventh loss in their last nine contests. Saint Mary’s (19-10, 4-3 WCC) scored three runs to take the lead in the seventh inning and held on for a 5-3 win in the series opener.
(Things didn’t get any prettier on Saturday, when the Dons lost to the Gaels, 2-1, in a 14-inning marathon game.)
Despite the rain on Friday and the team’s recent struggles, Allen Smoot has been a proverbial ray of sunshine on the Hilltop. The senior had an RBI double and is batting .469 over his last eight games. He also made a pair of diving stops at third base, robbing Logan Steinberg and Connor Thane of would-be doubles down the line.
On a team filled with underclassmen, Smoot is one of the seniors who took the long road to success. A 2012 graduate of De La Salle, he played two years at College of San Mateo and redshirted for the Dons in 2015. His junior year got off to a slow start after missing the first 12 games due to injury, but since then, he’s been one of the team’s most consistent producers on offense.
Smoot batted .321 in 2016 and finished the year with a .434 on-base percentage. “I just try to use the whole field,” he said.
His solid junior campaign led to an excellent summer in Maryland, where he batted .293 for the Bethesda Big Train and won the Cal Ripken League Championship.
“I’m just trying to keep it simple and not worry about too many things,” he said about his prospects after graduating.
Should he continue to excel at the plate and in the field, there’s little doubt Smoot will be drafted in June.
A Bay Area native, Smoot’s summer in Maryland should help him should his career take him into unfamiliar territory.
Success against Saint Mary’s would help the Dons get back on track after a sweep at the hands of San Diego, and it would carry some extra significance for Smoot. Saint Mary’s roster features a heavy East Bay presence, including three De La Salle alums.
Despite being raised in Moraga, Smoot always had his eyes on USF: His father played for the Dons from 1980 to 1982.
As well as Smoot has played as of late, it was a player with a similar background who did most of the damage for Saint Mary’s. Brett Rasso, a City native and a Sacred Heart Cathedral alum, collected four hits for the Gaels on Friday.