The Rams' top pitcher, Joey Caffese, walked five and hit three Herd batters in four innings in taking the loss.
Elk Grove coach Jeff Carlson knows in a best two-out-of-three series, it's very important to win game one and win it convincingly, like the Herd did Friday.
|Rowdy Tellez, who was 3-for-3 with a pair of RBI's, led|
Elk Grove to a 9-1 win over St. Mary's Friday
"The first game is huge," Carlson said. "I remember the first Section title as a head coach we gave up game one after having a lead and it made it tough on us to come back. Winning game one takes a little bit of the pressure off. We need to come out and compete tomorrow. They will be ready to go."
After giving up an unearned run in the top of the first inning, Smith settled down to retire the next eight batters before giving up a hit to open the fourth inning. He was helped with a pair of double plays turned by shortstop Nick Madrigal and second baseman Carlos Moseley.
Rowdy Tellez had three singles and a pair of RBI's to lead the Herd attack. He also scored from first base in the third inning on a bit of a fluke play. He stole second base and when the throw to the bag sailed into centerfield, Tellez took off for third. The throw to third was also airmailed and went into the St. Mary's dugout, allowing Tellez to score on the over throw.
Dom Nunez drilled an RBI triple in the third inning.
Smith (9-2) struck out the side in the seventh inning to finish with eight K's and walked two.
Mikey Wright (5-0, 1.58 ERA) will start on the mound for Elk Grove in game two Saturday. First pitch is scheduled at noon.
Elk Grove (28-5) has now won seven games in a row, six of them in the post-season.
St. Mary's must win both games Saturday in order to keep their Section championship string alive. They've won the past three Section D-I banners.
Four members of Elk Grove's last championship team, in 2007, were in attendance at Friday's game: Justin Charles, who has another year remaining at Cal State - Stanislaus, Zach Miller, who has one more year left at Long Beach State, Joel Hull, who graduated from Menlo College in 2011 where he played four years in centerfield for the Oaks, and Brian Oien.