Zags Use 10-Run Third Inning To Win Regular-Season Finale
PROVO, Utah - The Gonzaga University baseball team scored 10 runs in the third inning and added seven more late in the game to finish its regular-season with a 17-1 West Coast Conference victory over BYU Saturday afternoon.
Gonzaga, which finishes the regular-season 34-22 overall, now waits to see what their NCAA Baseball Championship fate is. The selection show is set for Monday at 9 a.m. PDT on ESPNU.
The Bulldogs also finish the WCC season with a 14-10 record and are currently a half of a game ahead of the University of San Francisco and Loyola Marymount University for third place in the standings. The Dons bounced back from Friday's loss to beat Saint Mary's College 9-7, while the Lions fell 7-6 at Santa Clara University. The Bulldogs can finish tied for third or take sole possession if both the Lions and Dons lose to their respective opponents Sunday.
The final game of the regular-season between the Bulldogs and Cougars (22-27, 10-14 WCC) started an hour late due to a rain delay. But the delay did not stop Andy Hunter (5-2) from throwing eight stellar innings. The senior allowed one run on four hits and a walk while punching out seven.
The rain delay also didn't stop Royce Bolinger's bat as the senior recorded his 92nd and 93rd hit to pass former Zag Drew Heid's program single-season record of 92 set in 2010.
The Bulldogs scored all the runs they needed to win the game in the third. Clayton Eslick, Steven Halcomb and Bolinger quickly loaded the bases with three consecutive singles into the outfield and Tyler Westensee (0-3) walked Alex Stanford and his pitching counterpart Hunter to force in two runs and end his day early. After Adam Miller checked into the game, Marco Gonzales cleared the bases with a double to center field and a throwing error by second baseman Adam Law allowed the first baseman to advance to third. Miller would walk Maxx Garrett and surrender a RBI single to Billy Moon before striking out Alex Bonczyk struck out for the first out. Eslick would win a free pass to first in his second at-bat in the inning and Halcomb ended Miller's day with a two-run single. Cameron Keysor tried to stop the Bulldogs hitting barrage, but a two-run double by Bolinger his team ahead of the Cougars 10-0. Keysor ended the inning with back-to-back groundouts.
The Bulldogs would go scoreless in the fourth inning but would score at least a run in each inning the rest of the game. Similar the third inning, the Bulldogs started the fifth quickly loading the bases with three consecutive singles by Bonczyk, Eslick and Halcomb. Bolinger and Stanford both hit sacrifice flies to right field to give the Bulldogs a 12-0 lead.
Gonzaga took a 14-0 lead in the sixth when Gonzales hit a lead-off single to right and Billy Moon hit a two-run shot to right field.
Cameron Alvarado opened the seventh with a pinch-hit walk, Payden Cawley Lamb and Gonzales both singled to right to load the bases and a double play ball hit by Garrett was enough for Alvarado to score the 15th run.
Hunter retired 15 of the first 18 batters he faced, which included nine straight between the third and sixth innings, but the Cougars stopped his momentum in the seventh. Hall led off the inning with a base hit to second base, advanced to second on Alex Wolfe's groundout to first and scored the Cougars only run on Christian Mua's single up the middle.
Bonczyk christened the eighth frame with a single to center, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Halcomb's double to center.
With one out in the ninth, Garrett was hit by the pitch and scored the Bulldogs 17th run on Brock Slavin's double to opposite field.
Ryan Leahy took over for Hunter in the ninth and quickly retired the side in order on 12 pitches.