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Courtesy: Torrey Vail

Zags Head To Washington State For Season Series Finale

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics
          Release: 05/21/2012
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Game 53: May 22 - at Washington State - Bailey-Brayton Field, Pullman, WA - 5:30 p.m.
All times Pacific Time Zone and subject to change
Visit GoZags.com for live stats, video and audio availability
Gonzaga University Bulldogs (32-20, 12-9 West Coast)
Probable Starting Pitcher
RHP - 24 Zach Abbruzza, R-R, 6-2, 205, Fr., Redmond, WA
 (2-4, 4.06 ERA)

Probable Position Starters
C - 18 Maxx Garrett, R-R, 6-1, 215, Sr., Kennewick, WA
 (.218, 14 R, 5 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 23 RBI, 2 SB)
1B -  7 Marco Gonzales, L-L, 6-1, 185, So., Fort Collins, CO
 (.321, 19 R, 8 2B, 2 HR, 23 RBI)
2B - 20 Alex Stanford, L-R, 5-10, 180, Sr., Bothell, WA
 (.314, 26 R, 10 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 26 RBI, 8 SB)
3B - 5 Clayton Eslick, L-R, 5-11, 170, Jr., Gilroy, CA
 (.335, 36 R, 8 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 23 RBI)
SS - 4 Steven Halcomb, R-R, 5-10, 165, Jr., Poway, CA
 (.266, 25 R, 5 2B, 1 HR, 25 RBI, 4 SB)
LF - 11 Billy Moon, L-L, 6-0, 185, Jr., Spokane, WA
 (.235, 13 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 2 SB)
CF - 32 Alex Bonczyk, R-R, 6-3, 190, Jr., Las Vegas, NV
 (.220, 14 R, 2 2B, 10 RBI, 7 SB)
RF - 21 Royce Bolinger, R-R, 6-2, 200, Sr., Scottsdale, AZ
 (.401, 43 R, 12 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR, 44 RBI, 3 SB)
DH - 26 Andy Hunter, R-R, 6-6, 220, Sr., Tucson, AZ
 (.295, 19 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 10 RBI)

Head Coach: 28 Mark Machtolf (Stanford University, 1987)
Gonzaga Record: 264-218-1 (9th year - 22nd at GU)       Career Record: Same

Washington State University Cougars (26-26, 11-16 Pacific-12)
All-time series versus Gonzaga: Washington State leads 120-73
Probable Starting Pitcher
LHP - 31 Joe Pistorese, L-L, 6-2, 174, Fr., Kalispell, MT
 (3-3, 2.89 ERA)
Head Coach: 7 Donnie Marbut (Portland State University, 1997)
Washington State Record: 236-213 (8th year)       Career Record: Same


TWITTER: The Gonzaga University Bulldogs are on Twitter. Fans can follow the Bulldogs at Twitter.com/GonzagaBulldogs. Fans can receive inside scoop on all Bulldog athletics as well as in-game updates. The Gonzaga baseball team is also on Twitter. Visit Twitter.com/GonzagaBaseball to follow the Bulldogs.

FACEBOOK: The Gonzaga University Bulldogs are on Facebook. Visit Facebook.com/GonzagaBulldogs and click on 'Like' to receive inside scoop and photos. The Gonzaga baseball team also has a Facebook page, visit Facebook.com/GUBaseball.

RECAPING LAST SERIES: Gonzaga University closed out its home schedule sweeping the University of Portland in a three-game West Coast Conference series last weekend. The Bulldogs bats exploded in game one to beat the Pilots 12-4, and although the Bulldogs made a few mistakes, they held on to win game two 5-3, and game three 7-6. Senior infielder Alex Stanford led the effort at the plate in the series for the Bulldogs, going 7-for-11 (.636) with three doubles and four RBI. Junior infielder Clayton Eslick also had a busy weekend, recording five hits and scoring six runs in the series. All three of the Bulldogs starting pitchers, seniors Tyler Olson, Andy Hunter and sophomore Marco Gonzales, threw at least eight innings to pick up a win. Olson and Gonzales allowed one run across during their respective outings while Hunter surrendered six. The Bulldogs bullpen combined for 2 2/3 innings of work in the three games and allowed five runs on five hits and a walk.

ZAGS IN THE WCC STANDINGS: After sweeping the University of Portland last weekend, Gonzaga University improved its West Coast Conference record to 12-9 and is now in a three-way tie for third place in the league standings with Loyola Marymount University and the University of San Francisco. The University of San Diego and Pepperdine University entered the week tied for first with 14-7 records and will battle each other for the conference crown in Malibu, Calif. Also on the schedule this weekend, the Bulldogs will play the final weekend at seventh-place BYU (9-12), the Dons will cross the Bay Bridge to play seventh-place Saint Mary's College (7-14) and the Lions head to the Bay Area as well to face last-place Santa Clara University (4-17). The Pilots finished the WCC season with a 12-12 record and will finish the regular-season in non-conference play. The Bulldogs can finish as high as second place in the standings. But they will need help. The Bulldogs can secure second place by sweeping BYU and the Toreros sweep the Waves.

SCOUTING THE COUGARS: Washington State University is coming having lost two of three Pacific-12 Conference games to No. 23 Oregon State University in Pullman last weekend. After the Beavers won game one 10-2, the Cougars used a walk-off grand slam by catcher P.J. Jones in the ninth inning to win the middle game of the series 9-5. The Beavers won the rubber game of the series by a score of 7-5. First baseman Taylor Ard paces the Cougars at the plate in batting average (.349), home runs (12) and RBI (49). Derek Jones is also proven to be a dangerous hitter, averaging .344 with 14 two-baggers, three triples, nine home runs and 42 RBI. Tuesday's projected starting pitcher, left-hander Joe Pistorese, is considered to be the team's ace, going 3-3 with a team-best 2.89 ERA. In 53 innings of work, he's struck out 32 and walked 25. Following Tuesday's contest, the Cougars head to Seattle to finish the regular-season at arch-rival University of Washington for a three-game Pac-12 series.

LAST TIME VS. THE COUGARS: Gonzaga University scored three runs in the fifth inning and two runs each in the sixth and seventh to complete a 7-4 come-from-behind win over in-state rival Washington State University in front of 1,054 fans in their last meeting April 17. Senior outfielder Royce Bolinger and junior shortstop Steven Halcomb both delivered a key two-run base hit to help the Bulldogs take down the Cougars. Bolinger and senior third baseman Eric Lane led the hitting column with three hits each, Halcomb and sophomore first baseman Marco Gonzales added two while senior catcher Maxx Garrett had a single. Starter Kenny Smith received a no-decision after allowing three runs, two earned, on four hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings. Despite walking and striking out three batters each, Derek Callahan received the win after holding the Cougars scoreless in 1 2/3 innings of work. Derek Peterson threw two shutout frames before handing the ball to Zach Abbruzza in the ninth inning to shut the door.

ON DECK: Following the non-conference game at Washington State University, Gonzaga University finishes the regular-season at BYU in their inaugural West Coast Conference series. The series begins Thursday at 5 p.m. PDT. Gonzaga and BYU have met the last few seasons for non-conference counters. The two teams split the two meetings in Provo, Utah, a year ago. Gonzaga won game one 12-5, BYU game two 4-3.

OLSON WCC PITCHER OF THE WEEK AGAIN: Gonzaga University baseball senior left-hander Tyler Olson has been named the Rawlings West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Week, as announced by the league office Monday. This is Olson's second weekly honor and Gonzaga's fourth honor this season. The lefty earned the Rawlings WCC Pitcher of the Week honor after firing eight solid innings last Friday to help Gonzaga beat the University of Portland 12-4. He fanned five and allowed one run on five hits and a walk. After allowing the only run in his outing in the third, he went on to retire 15 of the remaining 17 batters he faced before handing the ball to the bullpen in the ninth. A native of Spokane, Olson is 5-3 with a 2.46 ERA this season. He has thrown three complete-games this year and leads the ballclub with 82 strikeouts and 102 1/3 innings pitched. Olson earned his first WCC weekly pitching honor March 5. He was followed by senior outfielder Royce Bolinger, who was tabbed Rawlings WCC Player of the Week March 26, and sophomore left-hander Marco Gonzales, who received the WCC's weekly pitching honor April 30.

GREAT CROWD: The 2012 season will be one to remember for Gonzaga University baseball when it comes to attendance. This season, the Bulldogs drew more than 1,000 fans a game seven times, capped by a program record of 2,011 against Loyola Marymount University on ESPNU April 28.
BOLINGER ENTERING THE RECORD BOOK: After recording a pair of doubles at Saint Mary's College May 4-6, senior outfielder Royce Bolinger has registered 40 career two-baggers and is three shy from joining Mark Castellitto (2006-10) and Mac Gebbers (1978-82) for ninth-most in program history. The Scottsdale, Ariz., native currently leads the Bulldogs with 12 doubles this season.

ANOTHER 30-WIN SEASON: Gonzaga University picked up a 12-4 victory over the University of Portland last Friday to achieve its fifth 30-win season in six years. With four games remaining in the 2012 regular-season, the Bulldogs can match the 2009 team's 36-win mark, the most in a season in the Mark Machtolf era.

GONZALES ON WATCH LISTS: Gonzaga University sophomore Marco Gonzales has been named to the watch list for two national awards. He was named to the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List May 1 and was named to the watch list for the 2012 John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award this past Monday. Gonzales, a first baseman and a left-handed pitcher, has compiled a 6-1 record with a 1.60 ERA in nine starts. He has 68 strikeouts and has limited opponents to a .197 batting average in 67 2/3 innings pitched. The Fort Collins, Colo., native is also having success at the plate, hitting .339 with five doubles, two home runs and 20 RBI.

WILLING TO MAKE THE SACRIFICE: Gonzaga University senior catcher Maxx Garrett has been very successful with laying down sacrifice bunts this season. The Kennewick, Wash., native entered Monday ranked sixth in the country for most successful sacrifice bunts with 19. The University of Virginia's Keith Werman leads the nation with 23 sacrifice bunts. As a team, Gonzaga has laid down 67 sacrifice bunts, which ranks 20th for the most in the country. Long Beach State University leads the nation with 90 sacrifice bunts.

PITCHING AND HITTING? NO PROBLEM: Gonzaga University's Marco Gonzales and Andy Hunter have been given double duties of both pitching and hitting lately. Gonzales has been penciled in as the pitcher in the batting order six times this season, most recently last Saturday against the University of Portland. When he is pitching and hitting at the same time this season, Gonzales is 5-for-24 (.208) with two runs, a double and a RBI at the plate, while on the mound he is 3-2 with a 1.57 ERA. He has tossed 51 2/3 innings and has 48 strikeouts. Meanwhile, Hunter has been inked as a pitcher in the batting order three times, most recently last Sunday against the Pilots. He is 2-for-9 with a walk and a RBI at the plate, while on the mound he is 1-0 with a 5.60 ERA in 17 2/3 innings pitched.

RUNS ARE HARD TO BE EARNED: Gonzaga University's pitching staff entered Monday with a 3.02 combined ERA, which places them 16th for the lowest in the nation. Coastal Carolina University's pitchers lead the nation with a 2.49 ERA. In the individual ERA category, sophomore left-hander Marco Gonzales' dropped his ERA from 1.76 to 1.70 in his outing last Saturday against the University of Portland, moving him up seven spots to 15th-best. Missouri State University's Nick Petree owns the best ERA in the country with a 0.91.

WE'RE WATCHING YOU: Seven Gonzaga University pitchers, along with their batterymate senior Maxx Garrett, have picked off 16 runners this season, which is second behind Pepperdine University's 18 for the most among West Coast Conference teams. Sophomore Marco Gonzales recorded his fifth pickoff on the year at Saint Mary's College May 5 to pass junior Billy Moon's four for the most on the team. Garrett and redshirt junior Tyler Olson are behind Gonzales and Moon with two pickoffs, while senior Andy Hunter, sophomore Kenny Smith and freshman Derek Peterson have each picked off one runner. In an interesting note, 11 of those pickoffs come from left-handers (Gonzales, Moon and Olson).

ZAGS JUMPED RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE: Gonzaga University's 10-0 record to start the 2012 season was the best since 1990, when the Bulldogs went 9-0 to start the season. The 1990 Bulldogs opened the season sweeping Eastern Oregon State College in a four-game series and after defeating Eastern Washington University the Bulldogs swept Central Washington University in four games. The Bulldogs would suffer back-to-back losses to Fresno State University in their road-opener.

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