Offensive Surge Pushes Zags into Winner's Bracket
May 25, 2017
STOCKTON, Calif.--It took a few innings, but the Bulldog offense hit top gear Thursday afternoon, propelling the top-seeded Gonzaga baseball team past fourth-seed Saint Mary's 11-3 and into the winners' bracket of the West Coast Conference Championships at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, Calif.
Saint Mary's scored the game's first runs, scoring twice in the top of the third off atypical wildness from GU starter Eli Morgan. After a leadoff double, the Gaels loaded the bases with a pair of walks. A wild pitch then scored Brett Rasso from third base, and Austin Chauvin hit an infield single for the second SMC tally.
Gonzaga pulled one back immediately, plating one in the bottom of the frame. Shortstop Gunnar Schubert led the frame off with a blooper into left for a single, and both Troy Johnston and Tyler Frost joined him on base to load them up with one out. Cleanup hitter Justin Jacobs then hit a grounder to second, but the Gaels were unable to turn a double play, allowing Schubert to score and cut the Zags' deficit to one.
In the fifth, Gonzaga took the lead on three hits and some shaky Saint Mary's defense. Johnston led the frame off with well-struck home run to right field, one that left the stadium grounds on one hop. Frost then singled up the middle for another knock, and Jacobs took second base when Rasso dropped a fly ball to left center, sending Frost to third. Frost then scored when Jeff Bohling hit a high pop into shallow right field that fell for a base hit, giving Gonzaga a 3-2 advantage.
The Bulldogs broke the game open in the sixth, scoring six runs and sending all nine men to the plate. Two of the first three Zags reached in the frame, putting runners on the corners with just one out for Johnston. The freshman then singled through the right side, allowing the lead runner to score and chasing SMC starter Ken Waldichuk from the game. Frost then loaded the bases by drawing a walk off reliever Johnny York, and then Jacobs lifted a ball out to left for a sacrifice fly. With two runners on base, Bohling then doubled to the left center gap to clear the bases, and Jake Roberts capped off the inning with a two-run shot down the left field line for a 9-2 lead.
One inning later, the Zags tacked on two more with a sacrifice fly from Sam Brown and an RBI double from Frost, putting the game at 11-2.
Saint Mary's salvaged one run in the ninth, but that was all as the game ended 11-3 in favor of the top-seeded Zags. Morgan picked up the win, his 10th of the season while Waldichuk suffered the loss, his fourth.
Mac Talk: Thoughts from Gonzaga head coach Mark Machtolf:
The Zags (32-18) will now play a winner's bracket game Friday, May 26, the second day of the WCC Championships. They'll face the winner of BYU and Loyola Marymount, who are playing Thursday's late game. Should Gonzaga win on May 26, the Zags will play for the tournament's championship on Saturday, May 27, and a loss will send Gonzaga to an elimination game on at 7:00 p.m. May 26.
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