Zags Stunned Twice at WCC Championships
May 27, 2017

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STOCKTON, Calif.--The Gonzaga baseball team lost two games to BYU Saturday, falling in the West Coast Conference Championships title round at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton.

Game One: No. 3 BYU 10, No. 1 Gonzaga 3

The Cougars forced the winner-take-all nightcap by jumping out to an early lead in game one. They scored four in the bottom half of the first inning on four hits. The first two batters reached via a pair of tough infield singles, and then Tanner Chauncey brought them home with a home run to left field. David Clawson then drove in another run with a sacrifice fly.

Gonzaga countered immediately, cutting the lead in half in the top of the second. Justin Jacobs drew a leadoff walk and Jake Roberts ripped a double to left field, giving Branson Trube two runners in scoring position. The right fielder grounded out to short, but that ground ball scored Jacobs for the Zags' first run. Roberts scored during the next at-bat, advancing home on a wild pitch from the Cougars' Jordan Wood.

BYU tacked on one run in the second and four in the third, taking a 9-2 lead and chasing GU starter Daniel Bies from the contest. Freshman lefty Mac Lardner came on and allowed a pair of singles in the third -- the last of which scored BYU's fourth of the frame -- but then settled into a grove. The Templeton, Calif., native held BYU scoreless for four innings, allowing just two baserunners during the stretch. That ended in the eighth after a leadoff home run, but the freshman got a double play to end the frame.

In the top of the ninth, the Zags salvaged a run after Tyler Frost led off with a double down the line to right. He came around to score on an RBI ground ball from Roberts, putting the game at its 10-3 final score.

Game Two: No. 3 BYU 16, No. 1 Gonzaga 3

Gonzaga struck first in game two, plating a run in the first inning. Sam Brown drew a leadoff walk, and he went to third on a single from Frost. Jacobs then found a hole through the right side of the infield to plate the senior.

BYU countered immediately, getting five consecutive hits and scoring three runs before GU starter Sam Hellinger registered an out. At that point, Calvin LeBrun came in to pitch for the Zags, and he got a pick-off of the lead runner before retiring the next two batters. LeBrun also kept the Cougars off the scoreboard in the third, but Bronson Larson hit a solo shot in the fourth, extending BYU's lead to 4-1.

In the fifth, the complexion of the game changed after BYU scored six runs, opening up a 10-1 lead. The first five Cougar batters tallied singles, that stretch surviving a pitching change from LeBrun to Casey Legumina after the second batter. No Cougar batter hit more than a single in the frame, but they kept finding holes in the Gonzaga defense for the big inning.

The Zags scratched across a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame, looking to begin a rally. Frost plated the first one, driving in Jake Vieth with a grounder, and Jacobs singled through the right side to score Brown once again. The two tallies cut GU's deficit to seven at 10-3.

BYU added runs in the seventh, eighth, and ninth, however, pushing the score to 16-3. The big win clinched BYU's first WCC title.

All-Tournament Team:

The following Zags were named to the All-WCC Championships squad:

  • Justin Vernia: Vernia pitched 6.2 scoreless innings vs. Loyola Marymount May 26, out-dueling WCC Pitcher of the Year Cody Abbott and allowing the Zags to beat the Lions 3-1. He allowed just three hits while striking out five batters.
  • Jake Roberts: The senior catcher collected hits in all four games, leading the team with seven hits and a .438 average. He collected two doubles and one home run, finishing the weekend with three RBIs and a pair of runs scored.
  • Tyler Frost: Frost also hit in every game of the tournament, hitting .357 with five hits and three RBIs. He knocked two doubles and a triple at Banner Island, scoring four runs as well. This is Frost's second time on the All-WCC Championships Team as he also made the squad in 2016.

Bulldog Bites:

  • Lardner's six innings of relief equaled the longest outing of his career, also going six innings Feb. 18 versus Duke. The freshman only allowed one run on five hits while striking out four. He did not walk anyone, putting a zero in that column for the second time in his career.
  • Hellinger's start in game two was the first of his career. Prior to the game, all of the senior's 48 career appearances had been in relief.
  • Roberts tallied hits in both games, going 3-for-7 with two doubles, an RBI, and a run scored on the day. That extended his hit streak to nine game, equaling his season high, and he also pushed his reached-base streak to 24 games, the longest on the team this year.
  • Both BYU and Gonzaga are the only teams to play in four of the five WCC Championships, a tournament that began in 2013.

Next Up:

The Bulldogs (33-20) now await the NCAA Selection Show to see if they will earn an at-large berth to an NCAA Regional. That show will begin at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, May 29 and air on ESPN2. A berth would give Gonzaga back-to-back postseason appearances for the third time in program history and first time since 1980-81.


 

 

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