Bulldogs Split Opening Day Double-header
Feb. 17, 2017
SURPRISE, Ariz.—The Gonzaga University baseball team began its West Coast Conference title defense Friday, splitting a pair of games against Duke and Indiana at the Surprise Baseball Complex in Surprise, Ariz.
Game One: Gonzaga 6, Duke 1
The Bulldogs opened the season in the win column thanks to a stellar outing from starting pitcher Justin Vernia. The senior right-hander allowed just one unearned run on three hits, but not until retiring the first 20 batters he faced. Vernia shutdown the Duke offense until the seventh inning, where a pair of two-out hits and a Gonzaga fielding error allowed the Blue Devils to score their lone run of the game. He again shut out Duke in the eighth for his longest career outing.
Gonzaga’s offense, meanwhile, got started in the very first inning. The Bulldogs scored three runs on four hits in the top of the first as Jeff Bohling started the rally with a one-out double. Tyler Frost reached base after getting hit by Duke starter James Ziemba, and Justin Jacobs drove in the year’s first run with a double down the left field line. Frost later scored on a wild pitch, and Jacobs touched home after a Nick Brooks single.
Bohling picked up his first RBI of the year in the fourth by driving in Jake Vieth to make the score 4-0, and Gonzaga tacked on two more in the eighth with another pair of hits and another Blue Devil error.
The reigning WCC Player of the Year, Bohling led the Zags with three hits during the morning contest. Six different Bulldogs scored against Duke, and four drove in one run apiece.
The afternoon matchup between the Zags and Indiana started off as a pitchers’ duel, but the Hoosiers got to Eli Morgan beginning in the fourth inning. They scored two runs each in fourth, fifth, and sixth innings to open up a 6-0 lead.
Gonzaga got on the board in the bottom of the sixth after Bohling led the frame off with a double. The senior third baseman reached third on a passed ball, and Frost was hit by another pitch to give the Zags runners on first and third. A double play plated Bohling for the run.
Indiana broke the game wide open in the seventh, scoring four runs off freshman reliever Keaton Knueppel. The Hoosiers added two more in the top of the ninth inning, but the Zags got those back in the bottom half of the frame. Nick Nyquist hit an RBI grounder, plating Jacobs and allowing Brooks to score on an Indiana throwing error.
Mac Talk: Thoughts from Gonzaga head coach Mark Machtolf
The Zags (1-1) and Blue Devils (0-2) will renew acquaintances tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 18. That contest will begin at 9:00 a.m. inside Surprise’s Surprise Stadium, and LHP Mac Lardner will take the mound for the Zags.
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