Big Win Punches Zags' Ticket to Stockton
May 18, 2017
SPOKANE, Wash.--Needing one win entering a three-game series against No. 18 BYU, the Gonzaga baseball team wasted little time in clinching a berth to the West Coast Conference Championships, taking a big lead early en route to a 10-2 win Thursday night at Patterson Baseball Complex & Washington Trust Field.
The Gonzaga offense jumped out on BYU starter Maverik Buffo quickly, tagging him for three runs in the bottom of the first. Left fielder Sam Brown led off with a single, and he quickly moved to third on a wild pitch and a ground ball. Center fielder Tyler Frost drove the senior in with a single to right center, and he himself came home when Justin Jacobs found the gap in left center for a double. The hit parade continued with Jeff Bohling, who ripped a shot through the right side. Jacobs steamed home on the play, beating the throw from BYU right fielder Brock Hale for the score.
In the third, the Bulldogs blew the game wide open by just passing the torch. The inning's first nine batters reached base, all nine Zags either hitting a single or drawing a walk. Gonzaga scored six runs before Buffo could register an out in the frame. In all, the Zags sent 11 men to the plate in the third inning. Buffo ended the frame with a strikeout and a double play, but the outburst gave the Zags a 9-0 lead, one that was more than enough for Gonzaga starter Eli Morgan.
BYU pulled one back immediately as Hale led the fourth off with a solo blast to left, but the Zags got that run back in the bottom of the frame. Roberts drew a one-out walk for a base runner and moved to second when the Cougar defense couldn't turn a double play on a grounder. In the next at-bat, Jake Vieth doubled to right field, allowing the GU catcher to score from first for a 10-1 lead.
Hale scored the game's final run, another solo homer to lead off the eighth inning. That was all Morgan would allow, however, as he largely stymied the hot-hitting BYU lineup. He scattered eight hits with the only two BYU runs coming off Hale's four-baggers. The Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., native struck out 10 Cougar batters on the night, fanning at least one in seven of the 7.2 innings he pitched. The ultra-quality start gave Morgan the win, his ninth of the season.
Gonzaga head coach Mark Machtolf
Gonzaga junior right-hander Eli Morgan
The final WCC series continues Friday, May 19, as the Zags (29-17, 18-7 WCC) and Cougars (33-16, 20-5 WCC) resume play at Patterson Baseball Complex & Washington Trust Park. Game two of the three-game set will begin at 6:05 p.m. RHP Justin Vernia will start for Gonzaga while BYU will turn to RHP Brady Corless.
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