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Clayton Eslick hit his second home run of the season Saturday.
Courtesy: Torrey Vail

Eslick Homers In Ninth Inning But Zags Fall To Dons

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics
          Release: 04/21/2012
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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - Clayton Eslick hit a solo home run in the ninth inning but it wasn't enough as the 30th-ranked Gonzaga University baseball team's offense couldn't back Marco Gonzales' complete-game performance as the Bulldogs fell 2-1 to the University of San Francisco in the middle game of the West Coast Conference series Saturday.

Gonzales (5-1) struck out seven batters but scattered four hits and allowed a walk in his first loss since Feb. 26, 2011 at Texas A&M University, ending a NCAA Division I-best 16-game winning streak.

Eslick led the effort for the Bulldogs (26-11, 6-5 WCC) with two hits while four recorded one.

Despite allowing six hits, Don starting pitcher Alex Balog (2-3) got tremendous support from the defense.

The Dons (18-24, 5-6 WCC) caught a huge break in the third inning when the Bulldog defense lost a fly ball in the sunlight in left field to allow the leadoff hitter reach with a double. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runner over to third base, Gonzales got the next batter to ground out to the shortstop Steven Halcomb for the second out. But a two-out base hit to center field gave the Dons a 1-0 lead.

The Bulldogs had an opportunity to get back into the game in the fifth inning when Eslick and Andy Hunter led off with back-to-back base hits followed Alex Stanford's sacrifice bunt to move the runners over. As Halcomb hit a one-bouncer to the pitcher, Eslick tried to score in the tying run but was tagged out by the catcher. The Dons would escape the threat by getting Brock Slavin to strike out.

The Dons got their second run in the sixth inning when Gonzales hit a batter with one out and a sacrifice fly followed by a two-out RBI base hit to right field.

In the eighth inning, Slavin hit a one-out single to left field and advanced to third on Eric Lane's two-out single to right field, but the Dons once again escaped the threat by getting Gonzales to ground out to second base.

Eslick ended Balog's day in the ninth inning when he hit the one-out solo shot to right field. Eric Waterman checked in for the second day in a row and retired Hunter and Stanford to prevent the Bulldogs building a momentum.

The Bulldogs will send Hunter to the mound looking to avoid the sweep Sunday at noon.

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