Bulldogs Battle Top Seed CSF Tough But Falter Late
Anthony Synegal tied the game with a two-run homer for the Zags Saturday
 
Anthony Synegal tied the game with a two-run homer for the Zags Saturday

May 30, 2009

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FULLERTON, Calif. - No. 19 Gonzaga University dropped 7-4 decision to No. 2 national seeded Cal State Fullerton in the winner's bracket matchup of the Fullerton Regional in the NCAA Tournament in front of 2,255 fans Saturday night.

The Bulldogs (36-17) were unable to get the big hit throughout the game, stranding eight runners as CSF (44-14) overcame an early 2-0 deficit with three runs in the second and single runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to pick up the victory. The loss sends the Zags to a 2 p.m. matchup against the University of Utah Sunday with the winner having to turn around and play top seeded Fullerton 6 p.m. Sunday and 6 p.m. Monday if-necessary.

"Give credit to Fullerton, they were able to get some swings in crucial situations," said head coach Mark Machtolf. "We left way too many runners on base against a good team and that was the difference tonight."

Anthony Synegal and Tyson Van Winkle provided the pop for the Zags as Synegal launched his eighth homer of the season and Van Winkle picked up two RBI on his first inning double. Drew Heid paced the Bulldogs with a three-hit effort.

The Bulldogs were the first to strike in matchup between the two teams that each scored 18-plus runs in Friday's opening day wins, taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run double by Van Winkle. Evan Wells and Heid led off the game with back-to-back singles before Van Winkle pulled a pitch down the left field line for his school record-setting 26th double of the season, breaking Jim Carnell's previous top mark of 25 set in 1981.

Cal State Fullerton answered back in the second inning, scoring three runs off of GU starting pitcher Steven Ames to take a 3-2 lead. The Titans led off the inning with a home run and then picked up two more runs on an RBI triple and RBI single that bounced over the Zags left side of the infield to give CSF the one-run lead.

Gonzaga missed out on an opportunity to even the game and perhaps take the lead as Wells and Heid once again off the inning with singles but CSF starting pitcher Daniel Renken got Van Winkle and Ryan Wiegand to fly out to left field and Synegal to pop out to keep the game at 3-2.

The Titans picked up a run in the fourth on a hard chopped ground ball base-hit back up the middle by Joey Siddons to score Dustin Garneau to make it a 4-2 CSF lead.

In the Zags half of the fourth, Mark Castellitto and Grant Kveder got things going as each lined singles into right centerfield to start the inning. Ortiz then earned a one-out walk to load the bases for the top of the Bulldogs lineup. Renken, the ace of the Titan staff buckled down though, making some good pitches to get Wells and Heid to pop out and end the inning with no runs coming across.

The Gonzaga bats got a boost in the fifth inning as Wiegand reached on a fielding error by the CSF second baseman to put a runner on for Synegal. The Zags senior designated hitter came to the plate and jumped on a 2-1 pitch, driving a two-run homer over the fence in straight away centerfield to tie the game at 4-4. Renken then issued a walk to Kveder and hit Chatwood to put two runners on with two outs in the inning. After a passed ball moved both runners up a base, the Titans got out of the inning as Ortiz was called out on an inside pitch to strand the runners on second and third.

CSF used a couple of bad breaks for the Zags to take a 5-4 lead in the sixth as Garneau received a gift double on a broken bat fly ball that was lost in the lights by Heid in centerfield. One batter later the Titans benefitted again from a slight miscue by Bulldogs as Joe Scott lined a base-it to centerfield that Heid fielded on one bounce and fired a perfect strike to Van Winkle at the plate who received the throw and then dove to his left to tag out the CSF runner. The tag was made in time but after he made the tag, the ball popped out of Van Winkles glove to allow the run to count.

Fullerton was able to pick up a couple insurance runs with single runs in the eighth and ninth to build a 7-4 lead. Garneau singled home a run in the seventh before a Gary Brown infield single that bounced high of the hard surface allowed a Titan run to cross in the eighth.

Ames (8-2) suffered the loss after allowing seven earned runs in seven-plus innings of work. The All-WCC honorable selection finished with four strikeouts and left the game have allowing a lead-off single in the eighth inning. Cody Martin fired two impressive innings of relief, striking out five to keep the Zags close.

"Steven did a great job for us tonight," said Machtolf. "He battled tough against a very good Cal State Fullerton team. We need to come out and bring some early energy with the bats against Utah tomorrow."

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