The Zags won a compressed weekend series against San Francisco last weekend, beating the Dons twice on March 25 before falling in the finale on Sunday...the first game, which was postponed from March 24, began at 2:00 p.m. and went 16 innings before Justin Jacobs drove in the winning run...game two took 2:26 for a regulation-nine...Sunday’s series finale began at Noon, and the Dons needed 2:45 to avoid the sweep.
16 INNINGS = 26.2 MILES:
The Zags and Dons played a lot of baseball March 25, fitting in two games and 25 innings during 7:31 of playing time...the 16-inning game one is tied for the longest Zag game since at least 2000, and it’s the third-longest game in Division I this year...it was also the longest game in the 10-year history of Patterson Baseball Complex & Washington Trust Field...it took over five hours to play.
The Bulldogs used five different pitchers, and seven Dons toed the rubber at one point during game one.
In game two, meanwhile, senior Justin Vernia went the distance in his first complete game at the Division I level...USF used two pitchers.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS:
Friday’s contest is the first of three Zag games featured on TheW.tv’s enhanced broadcasts...Steve Quis will call play-by-play and Hugh Quattlebottom will provide color commentary for the game broadcast on TheW.tv.
Also, April 14th’s game at Santa Clara and May 19th’s game versus BYU are part of Friday Night Baseball.
PUT A LITTLE PEP IN YOUR STEP:
Pepperdine enters the series 11-12 on the year (1-2 in WCC play) following a 10-3 loss at UCSB...the Waves are batting .232 on the year with 52 extra-base hits while allowing opponents to hit .270 with 51 knocks for extra bases.
The last matchup between the Zags and Waves came in the 2016 West Coast Conference Championships...Gonzaga won 5-4 with a solo home run from Tyler Frost in the 10th inning to earn a spot in the tournament’s championship game...the Zags also won last year’s regular-season series 2-1 in Spokane.
The Waves are led at the plate by redshirt junior first baseman Ben Rodriguez, currently hitting .274 on the year...Rodriguez leads the team in runs scored, hits, doubles, triples, RBIs, total bases and slugging percentage...close behind is freshman infielder Quincy McAfee, batting .267 and leading Pepperdine in at bats, home runs and sacrifice hits.
On the mound, Pepperdine is led by sophomore Jonathan Pendergast, who holds a 3.12 era while holding opponents to a .192 batting average...freshman Wil Jensen and juniors Ryan Wilson and Max Gamboa have shouldered much of the pitching load for the Waves, accounting for 110 innings of work...junior Kiko Garcia has struck out 15 batters in 19.2 innings of relief work while giving up only three walks.
ONE NIGHT IN SANTA BARBARA:
The Gauchos head into the first weekend of Big West play with a 10-12 record but have won their last three games...UCSB has played four WCC opponents in 2017, including a 10-3 win over Pepperdine Tuesday...the Gauchos have also played BYU (0-3), Saint Mary’s (0-1), and Loyola Marymount (1-2).
UCSB is hitting .269 on the year but has averaged .293 over the last 14 games...junior Colton Burns bolsters the Gaucho offense and leads the team in batting average, on-base percentage, hits, runs, home runs, walks and stolen bases...junior first baseman Austin Bush leads the Gauchos in doubles, RBIs and home runs...on the mound, freshman southpaw AJ Woodall has seen action in 13 games, surrendering four runs while striking out seven batters and walking three.
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN:
Head coach Mark Machtolf is just three wins away from his 400th career win...he’s at 397 after two versus San Francisco Saturday...Mac claimed his 300th career win Feb. 21, 2014, versus Incarnate Word.
Machtolf would be the second head coach in the Bulldogs’ Division I history with 400 wins...Steve Hertz is the program’s all-time leader with 637...Machtolf has the second-most wins and third-best win percentage (.546) during the Division I era (since 1960).
Machtolf also has the third-highest win total among active coaches in the WCC...San Diego’s Rich Hill is the winningest coach in WCC history, and San Francisco’s Nino Giarratano is second with 515 victories...Machtolf is already seventh all-time in conference history in coaching wins.
Friday night starter Eli Morgan saw his 27.0 scoreless inning streak snapped March 25, but he still posted his fifth straight quality start...the junior from Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., allowed three runs on five hits in seven innings of work, striking out eight...he’s second in the nation with 62 Ks on the year, and his 4.91 hits allowed per nine innings rate is 20th in D1...he’s also the active career D1 leader with five shutouts in his 2.5 years as a Zag...four of those have come during WCC play, and he’s unbeaten at 10-0 with a 1.11 ERA against conference foes...he’s made 19 conference appearances, 13 of those being starts.
RHP Justin Vernia gave the Zags exactly what they needed last Saturday night, going the distance in game two of a doubleheader after a 16.0-inning game one...the senior from Issaquah, Wash., allowed just one unearned run on five hits while striking out seven and walking no one...Vernia has logged a 1.24 ERA and 3-0 record his last four starts (since March 4 at California), twice setting a career high in strikeouts...overall, his 1.56 ERA tops the WCC, and he’s second in the conference with just 1.34 walks issued per nine innings...in WCC play, Vernia is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA, allowing eight hits while posting a 16/2 strikeout/walk ratio.
Neither Sunday nor Monday’s starter has been announced yet, but there are plenty of candidates...four other pitchers have started at least one game this season: RHP Casey Legumina (4), RHP Daniel Bies (4), LHP Mac Lardner (3), and LHP Calvin LeBrun (1) ...LeBrun started the series finale against Pacific, while both Bies and Legumina saw starts during the mid-week series against Washington...Bies also stared the finale versus San Francisco.