The Zags split a four-game series at Cal last weekend, alternating wins and losses with the Bears...Eli Morgan struck out a career-high 12 batters to open the series...after falling in 13 innings in game two, the Zags trailed Cal 3-2 in the third game, but rain postponed the final three innings until Sunday...GU scored six runs in the seventh and eighth for the win...Cal took the finale with a five-run sixth.
GU's offense took a step forward in Berkeley...as a team, the Zags hit .270, slugged .372, and reached base at a .420 clip versus Cal...their 25 runs over the weekend more than doubled their yearly total, and the team's season batting average raised seven points, slugging percentage 25 points, and on base percentage 38 points.
The Zags have played Cal State Fullerton 11 times, but this is the two clubs' first series with Mark Machtolf at the helm for Gonzaga...the only meeting under Machtolf came in the 2009 NCAA Regionals, which was hosted by the Titans...CSUF won that contest 7-4.
Gonzaga and Cal Poly have only met once, and that was an 8-8 tie in Fresno, Calif., in 2003.
The Bulldogs and the Highlanders have matched up six times under Machtolf with UCR leading the series 4-2...they last met for a single game in 2014, which the Highlanders won 11-6.
More information about the Zags' history against Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly, and UC Riverside may be found in the sidebar on page five.
All four everyday seniors (Jeff Bohling, Sam Brown, Justin Jacobs, and Jake Roberts) have played in all 11 games this year, and Bohling, Brown, and Jacobs have started every one...there have been at least six upperclassmen in the starting lineup for all 11 games...on Feb. 19 versus Indiana, all nine starting fielders were either a junior or a senior.
GU's everyday seniors have accounted for 54 of the team's 99 hits, 22 of 46 runs scored, and eight of 14 doubles...Brown, Jacobs, and Bohling are the team's leaders in batting average and hits, and they're all among the top four of qualified hitters in slugging percentage and on base percentage...juniors, meanwhile, have combined for 34 hits, 16 runs, and 15 RBIs.
Senior pitchers (Justin Vernia, Sam Hellinger, and Wyatt Mills) have combined for eight appearances, thrown 30.2 innings, and nine runs allowed, seven of which were earned for a 2.08 ERA...Hellinger and Mills make up the back end of the bullpen with Hellinger serving as the team's setup man and Mills closing games out...they've pitched in three saved games this season.
WEARING OUT THE PATH TO FIRST:
You know Gonzaga reached base at a .420 clip at Cal last weekend, but did you know that Gonzaga's batters drew 32 walks in those four games to double their season total?...the Zags now have 57 walks on the season, the second-most in the WCC and one of the top 60 marks in the country.
Fourteen of those walks came during game one March 4, the program's most since team game-by-game records are available...junior Jake Vieth drew four walks himself, matching Gonzaga's individual high since 2008 and falling one shy of the Division I high this season.
The Bulldogs have also been adept in leadoff opportunities as the leadoff batter has reached base at a .417 clip...ten Zags have posted a .400 on-base percentage or better when batting first, topped by senior Jeff Bohling's .800 (4x5; 3 Hs, BB)...redshirt senior Sam Brown, who's batted atop the lineup for the last two seasons, is .409 (9x22; 6 Hs, 2B, 3B, 2 BBs) in such opportunities.
ON THE HOME STRETCH TO HOME GAMES:
These next five road games will end the Zags' 16-game road swing to begin the season...the Bulldogs also began last year with 16 games on the road...in 2015, their season-opening swing lasted 17 games, and it was 24 the year before that.
The Zags play 23 home games this year...they host six WCC teams after making six conference trips last year...they open the home schedule March 17 against Pacific, which begins an eight-game homestand...the Zags also play 10 of their final 11 regular season games at home and don't need to leave Spokane from April 28 to May 20...season tickets are available at http://www.gozags.com/tickets.
RHP Eli Morgan earned WCC Pitcher of the Week honors for his start last Friday when he struck out a career-high 12 batters and allowed just three hits and one run at Cal...he moved into second in the conference and 25th in the nation with 26 Ks on the season...the Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., native earned his first win of 2017 as the Zags finished off the Golden Bears 5-2.
RHP Justin Vernia got his second win of the year after pitching 6.0 innings and allowing three runs at Cal March 4 (game two)...he threw all six innings March 4 before the contest's final three were played March 5 due to rain...the Issaquah, Wash., native began the year with a 8.0-inning, five-strikeout win against Duke, both career highs...his walks allowed per nine innings mark (1.04) is fourth-best in the WCC.
LHP Mac Lardner is coming off a no-decision in game one at Cal March 4...he went 5.1 innings against the Golden Bears, allowing five runs on eight hits while striking out two...in his career debut Feb. 18 versus Duke, Lardner struck out eight and allowed just one run for a 4-1 victory...the Templeton, Calif., native earned Max Preps First Team All-American honors as a senior in high school.
RHP Casey Legumina is still looking for his first career win after losing his first two starts...on Feb. 5 at Cal, he allowed eight runs on 12 hits to suffer the loss...the Chandler, Ariz., native pitched 6.0 innings and allowed five runs in his debut Feb. 26 at UCLA...at Basha HS in Chandler, Ariz., he earned First Team All-Section and Team MVP honors during his senior season...as a junior, he tallied a school-record 72 strikeouts.
The Zags haven't announced Tuesday's starter yet, but there are plenty of options...redshirt sophomore RHP Daniel Bies has a start this season, getting the nod Feb. 19 versus Indiana...Bies set career highs with five innings pitched and five strikeouts while allowing four runs for the loss in his first career start...junior LHP Calvin LeBrun also has made 10 starts in his career, all as a freshman or a sophomore, and redshirt sophomore LHP Justin Blatner made a pair of starts in 2016 against Washington State, pitching well in both.