The Bulldogs kept their hot streak alive against Washington State, claiming a 7-3 win and the season series against their closest rival...the Bulldogs scored in each of the final three innings, answering two Cougar runs in the sixth...RHP Daniel Bies pitched another gem, not allowing a hit until two down in the fifth, and 1B Nick Brooks went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a home run, his second of the year.
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.
The Bulldogs are 16-19 all-time when ranked nationally...the last season they were ranked, 2013, they went 5-4 with wins over BYU, Pepperdine, and Washington State.
PENNANT RACE UPDATE:
Gonzaga enters the series tied atop the WCC standings with Loyola Marymount at 14-4...they’re a game ahead of San Diego and a game and a half above BYU...Saint Mary’s is fifth in the league at 9-6, 3.5 games out of first...Pepperdine is in sixth with a 6-9 record, 6.5 games off the pace.
The Zags have yet to face Loyola Marymount or BYU, but those series will take place at home in May...the Zags hold a tiebreaker over San Diego due to a series win against the Toreros earlier in the month.
GU’s win at Washington State was the Bulldogs’ eighth consecutive victory, matching last season’s longest streak...seven of those eight wins have come on the road, and the Zags have trailed in six of them.
The current eight-game win streak is tied for the fifth longest since 2000...the longest is an 11-game streak from March 30 to April 21, 2013...GU also has streaks of 10, nine, nine, and eight in the new millennium.
During the win streak, Gonzaga has scored seven runs or more seven times...the Bulldogs achieved this feat only eight times in the first 31 games before the streak started.
THE FIRST AGAINST A TRI-CHAMP:
This series will be the Zags’ first time playing against BYU or Saint Mary’s, last season’s other two co-conference champions...BYU swept Saint Mary’s in a three game series in Provo, Utah, at the end of March.
Gonzaga holds a 51-31 edge in the all-time series against the Gaels (since 1970)…under Coach Machtolf, Gonzaga is 30-17...Saint Mary’s enters the series with a 26-14 record, 9-6 in WCC play.
The Gaels are led at the plate by freshman Kevin Milam and redshirt sophomore Edward Haus, both batting above .300...Haus earned his second WCC Player of the Week award this season last week after hitting .500 and scoring seven runs in a four-game series against Pacific...Milam leads Saint Mary’s in home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage.
Senior lefty Johnny York shoulders much of the pitching load for the Gaels, tossing 59.1 innings in 10 starts...York has struck out 37 batters while walking just nine in a team-high 232 at bats... freshman Kevin Milam also leads the Gaels in pitching appearances, earning nine saves in 17 trips to the mound...Milam has allowed just four earned runs in 23.1 innings of work.
Junior RHP Eli Morgan 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, has thrice been named a National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball, and has picked up two Perfect Game Pitcher of the Week awards...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:
On the year, Zag relievers have combined for a 2.80 ERA in 119.0 innings of work...they’ve posted a collective 8-4 record and saved 13 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.
Sam Hellinger, Calvin LeBrun, and Wyatt Mills have combined to throw 91.0 of those innings (76.5 %), with LeBrun leading the way at 35.0 frames in relief...Mills leads the team with eight saves while LeBrun and Hellinger have added three and two, respectively.
Junior RHP Eli Morgan, Friday night’s starter, is coming off a brilliant 8.0 shutout innings at Portland last week...he allowed just three hits in all while striking out 15 batters and walking only two...all his awards for the outing are listed above, but it was also Morgan’s seventh start in which he allowed one or fewer runs...he’s given up just five or fewer hits seven times as well, and he has four games of 12 or more strikeouts...Morgan is a perfect 14-0 in his career during WCC play, posting a 1.39 ERA while striking out 146 and walking 30 in 23 appearances and 142.1 innings.
Vernia is coming off his seventh quality start of the season last Saturday, allowing three runs striking out six in 6.2 innings at Portland...the Issaquah, Wash., native stranded six Pilots on base, five of them in scoring position...a senior, Vernia has served as a second ace for the Zags, going 5-2 with a 2.55 ERA, good for sixth in the WCC,...he’s also among the top three in innings pitched (67, third) and WHIP (1.09, fifth)...from March 11 at CSU Fullerton to April 1 at Pepperdine, Vernia posted a stretch of 23.0 innings without an earned run...he hasn’t walked more than two batters in any start this season, and he’s set career highs with nine strikeouts (March 18 vs. Pacific) and nine innings pitched (March 25 vs. San Francisco).
Sunday’s starter hasn’t been announced yet, but there are plenty of options...four other Zags have started a game this season for GU: RHP Casey Legumina (7), RHP Daniel Bies (6), LHP Mac Lardner (5), and LHP Calvin LeBrun (1)...Legumina pitched into the third inning last Sunday at Portland...Bies threw six innings of two-run ball last Tuesday at Washington State...Lardner has also started a WCC game this year.