RHP Daniel Bies (2-2, 4.56) vs. LHP AJ Block (1-7, 4.63)
ROSY OUTLOOK IN THE ROSE CITY:
The Zags extended their win streak to a season-long seven games last weekend after sweeping the Pilots in Portland...Gonzaga busted out the bats and got another stellar outing from Eli Morgan for a 13-0 game one win Friday...on Saturday, the Zags scored three runs in the top of the 10th inning for the win, their third in extra innings this season...in the finale, Gonzaga’s bullpen pitched 6.1 shutout frames as the Zags rallied in the seventh and eighth for a tight 3-2 victory.
Gonzaga received its first national ranking since the second week of the season on Monday by entering Collegiate Baseball’s poll at No. 19...it’s the highest ranking of the season for the Bulldogs and first time the program has been ranked in the teens by any outlet since 2009.
YOU GUYS SEEM REALLY FAMILIAR...:
If you’re thinking to yourself, “Washington State, didn’t we just play those guys?”, you’re right...the Zags downed the Cougars 9-4 last Tuesday, April 17, at Patterson Baseball Complex...starting pitcher Daniel Bies went a career-long 6.0 innings while opening up leads of 6-0 through three innings and 9-1 through seven...INF Jake Vieth drove in three RBIs in that game, including a solo home run, while OF Tyler Frost drove in a run and scored three times on two hits and a walk.
With the win last week, the Zags are one win away from clinching the season three-game series against WSU this season...the two teams will also play May 16, again in Spokane...Gonzaga has either won or tied every season series against their closest and former Pac-10 North rivals since 2012...they’re 12-13 against WSU in Pullman under head coach Mark Machtolf.
The Cougars are now 18-19 this year and 4-11 in Pac-12 play after taking two games off in-state foe Washington last weekend at home...they won the first two games by scores of 5-4 and 6-3 before falling 7-1 in the finale...1B James Rudkin leads the team with a .329 batting average, 46 hits, and 26 RBIs, and OF Justin Harrer has driven in 25 runs on 38 hits, half of which have been for extra bases.
The pitching staff has combined for a 5.36 club ERA while striking out 255 batters...LHP Trenton Dupre has the best ERA of the Cougar relievers at 3.21, while closer and LHP Scotty Sunitsch has saved seven games with his 3.25 ERA...opposing batters are hitting just .208 against him.
Junior RHP Eli Morgan, known as Filthy Bear to his teammates, has been, well, filthy this season...he struck out 15 batters at Portland last Friday night, becoming just the second pitcher in Division I this season with multiple 15-K outings (also: JP Sears from The Citadel with three)...he’s fanned 95 batters already this season, tying him for third-most in the NCAA and just five shy of the Zags’ top-10 list for Ks in a season.
The Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., native, has earned five Rawlings WCC Pitcher of the Week awards and has thrice been named a National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball...a couple weeks ago, he was added to the Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list, and he’s twice been nominated for USA Baseball’s Gold Standard Performance of the Week.
YOU MESS WITH THE BULL(PEN), YOU GET THE HORNS...:
The Gonzaga bullpen was nearly untouchable last weekend, allowing just one run in 10.2 innings against the Pilots (that’s a 0.84 ERA)...RHPs Sam Hellinger, Nate Odahl, and Wyatt Mills combined with LHP Calvin LeBrun to strike out 15 Pilot batters while not allowing a walk in all three games.
Hellinger, Mills, and LeBrun each tossed at least 3.0 innings apiece, and Odahl pitched a perfect inning of relief Friday night, his collegiate debut.
Overall on the year, Zag relievers have combined for a 2.79 ERA in 116.0 innings of work...they’ve posted a collective 8-4 record and saved 12 games...six of the nine relievers used have an ERA under 3.00 in relief outings, and eight have a batting average against lower than .300...the Zag relievers have allowed just 11 of 29 inherited runners to score.
Hellinger, LeBrun, and Mills have combined to throw 89.0 of those innings (76.7 %), with LeBrun leading the way at 35.0 frames in relief...Mills leads the team with seven saves while LeBrun and Hellinger have added three and two, respectively.
SMALL BALL. BIG RESULTS.:
Of the Zags’ 352 hits on the year, only 72 have gone for extra bases...those 72 extra-base hits have driven in 64 total runs, meaning over 63% of the Zags’ 175 RBIs have been from singles, walks, hit-by-pitches, outs, or errors.
In fact, the Zags are second in the WCC with 14 sacrifice flies and third with 78 sacrifice bunts...they’ve also drawn 155 walks on the season, second-most in the conference and only seven behind WCC-leader Loyola Marymount...their slugging percentage of .353 is eighth in the league.
Right-hander Daniel Bies is 2-2 on the year in seven appearances and has started five games for the Zags...in 23.1 innings of work, the redshirt sophomore has allowed 25 hits and 13 earned runs while striking out 20...Bies has kept the ball in the yard, allowing only six extra-base hits on the season, all of which have been doubles...Bies is the only Zag starting pitcher to not yet give up a home run this year...opposing batters are hitting .272 against Bies.
Bies pitched a career-high six innings in his last start, a 9-4 win over Washington State on April 17...he allowed just one earned run on four hits...Bies tied his career-best for the third time with five strikeouts against the Cougars...he walked three batters in 25 batters faced while holding Washington State to a .160 batting average last Tuesday in Spokane.