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Andy Hunter had a career day Saturday against Illinois.
Courtesy: Torrey Vail

Hunter Throws First Complete-Game As Zags Beat Illinois

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics
          Release: 02/25/2012
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BEAUMONT, Texas - Andy Hunter went the distance for the first time in his collegiate career and the Gonzaga University baseball team's offense grabbed an early lead to help him beat the University of Illinois 7-3 in game one of a doubleheader at the Lamar University YMBL Cardinal Classic Saturday. The Bulldogs improve to 6-0 on the season.

Hunter (1-0) allowed only one earned run on seven hits. He also matched his career-best seven strikeouts.

Steven Halcomb had three hits with two runs and a stolen base. The junior shortstop has recorded a base hit in all six games played this season. Eric Lane, who had two hits on the day, also extended his career-best hitting streak to 10 games.

Royce Bolinger also had a pair of hits, Marco Gonzales and Clayton Eslick both drove in a pair of runs and Billy Moon hit his first home run of the season to help contribute to the Bulldogs offense.

Lane got the game started reaching second base on a throwing error by the shortstop and he advanced to third base on Halcomb's bunt single. Eslick hit a fly ball to right field deep enough for Lane to come home for the first run. After Bolinger singled to third base and Maxx Garrett drew a walk to load the bases, Gonzales hit a two-run single to right field to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead. With Garrett at third base, Cameron Alvarado's sacrifice fly to right field brought in the fourth run in the inning.

Gonzaga added more runs to its lead in the fifth inning. Lane led off with a single up the middle and he advanced to third on Halcomb's single to right field. Eslick followed with a RBI single to center field. After both runners advanced a base on a wild pitch, Garrett hit a sacrifice fly to left field to give the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead.

Moon scored the Bulldogs seventh run of the game with a leadoff home run in the sixth inning.

After allowing Illinois (1-4) its second hit in the second inning, Hunter retired 17 straight batters before the Fighting Illini got on the board in the seventh inning. With two out, Hunter surrendered back-to-back singles and Illinois' Davis Hendrickson singled to right field and a fielding error by Bolinger allowed him to circle the bases and score the Fighting Illini's third run.

Hunter had a bit of trouble trying to close the game. He allowed back-to-back one-out singles, but he got the next two batters to strike out and fly out to center field to end the game.

The Bulldogs will be back on the field for the nightcap of their doubleheader against host Lamar University at 4 p.m. PST. Fans can follow the game via live stats by clicking here.

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