Gonzaga picked up a big series win against Loyola Marymount last weekend, taking the Friday and Sunday games against the Lions at home...after Gonzaga led all of game one, the final two weren’t decided until the final at-bat...on Saturday, the Zags loaded the bases and brought the tying run to the plate before falling 4-0, and the Lions put the go-ahead run on second base Sunday before Wyatt Mills ended the 6-5 game with a strikeout.
Mills, who walked in graduation before Sunday’s game, saved both GU wins over the weekend...he pitched 4.1 innings, allowing just one run while striking out eight batters and walking none...he’s now saved 10 games, tied for second-most in a single season in GU history...fellow graduate Justin Jacobs led the team offensively with a .556/.692/.667 slash line, five hits, three runs, and two RBIs...those RBIs opened the scoring accord on Friday and Sunday, respectively.
A BREAK FROM THE TITLE RACE:
With the non-conference game against Washington State, the Bulldogs are taking a one-day break from the drive for a second con-secutive WCC title...the Zags are tied for second with LMU at 17-7, three games behind BYU...those Cougars are in Spokane for a three-game series starting next Thursday, and a sweep would give the Zags a share of the title and the No. 1 seed in the WCC Championships.
In the chase for a WCC Championship berth, Gonzaga and LMU are two games ahead of San Diego and Saint Mary’s, who are tied for the fourth and final spot in the tournament...the Zags hold tiebreakers over San Diego and LMU by way of series victories, but the Gaels own the ‘breaker with GU...the Toreros host Pepperdine in the final weekend of WCC play, Saint Mary’s hosts Santa Clara, and Loyola Marymount is at Portland.
LOOK MA, WE’RE ON TV!:
Tuesday’s game against WSU will be broadcast regionally on SWX with Sam Adams and Michael Jackson once again on the call...this is the Zags’ sixth televised game of the season, and the Zags are 4-1 in such games.
The game against the Cougars begins a stretch of three televised games in five days...the May 18 contest against BYU will be on SWX, and the Zags and Cougars will be broadcast nationally May 20 by ESPNU in the WCC finale and a game that could decide either the league title or a WCC tournament berth.
Additionally, the May 19 contest between the two clubs will be an enhanced broadcast on theW.tv...George Devine and Alex Jen-sen will broadcast that webstream.
GOOD OLE’ FASHIONED HOME COOKIN’:
GU is 12-6 at home this season, with 15 of those 18 games coming in WCC play...the Zags have now reached double-digit home wins in nine of Patterson’s 11 seasons, and they’ve clinched a .500 season for the 10th time in 11 tries...season bests inside their home since the 2007 season include 19 wins (2009) and a .800 win percentage (2016).
Since the Zags’ home season started March 17, the Bulldogs have gone 21-8 in all games, a majority of which have come in Spo-kane...they’ve lost just two conference series during that time.
ONE LAST EASTERN WASHINGTON SHOWDOWN:
The Zags and Cougars will wrap up the three-game season series with one last contest at Patterson Baseball Complex...they already played once this season in Spokane, a 9-4 win for the Zags...GU scored the game’s first six runs and got a strong start from Daniel Bies en route to the April 15 win...six days later, the Bulldogs won 7-3 after Bies tossed another strong 6.0-inning outing, not allow-ing a hit until the fifth inning...with the two previous victories, the Zags have already clinched the season series, marking six straight years that GU has either split or taken the rivalry set...Gonzaga has won the last five games and seven of the last eight against their closest foes.
The Cougars are coming off a strong series win against UCLA at home, taking the first two games 7-1 and 7-3 before falling in the finale 12-2...since GU’s 7-3 win April 25 in Pullman, the Cougars have gone 6-3 with three Pac-12 series wins, taking three-game sets versus Utah and Oregon as well.
As a team, WSU hits .277 and averages 5.26 runs per game...INF Andres Alvarez leads the squad with a .316 average and 55 hits, while OF Justin Harrer and INF Shane Matheny have driven in 32 runs apiece...Harrer’s five home runs and .529 slugging percent-age are tops on the squad.
The pitching staff has posted a 5.01 ERA with a .268 batting average against...seven different Cougars have started one game, and probable starter RHP Colby Nealy will be making his second of the year...he’s posted a 4-2 record and 5.54 ERA in just over 37 innings...LHP Scotty Sunitsch is the closer, posting eight of the Cougars’ 11 saves on the year.
Gonzaga is 6-5 against Pac-12 foes this season...two of those wins have come at home...the Zags average 5.45 runs per game in those 11 Pac-12 games...five different pitchers have earned wins against Pac-12 competition, with Daniel Bies being the only one claiming multiple victories.
The Bulldogs have outscored opponents 87-47 in the seventh inning or later...they have come back to win eight games despite trail-ing entering the seventh...GU has also won three games when tied heading into the seventh, meaning the Zags have rallied for 11 late-game wins...that’s nearly 40 percent of their victories (11 of 28).
Redshirt sophomore Justin Blatner will be making his third appearance and first start of the season Tuesday...he last took the mound March 5 at California, striking out two and allowing one run in one inning of work...his other appearance came Feb. 17 against Indi-ana, where he allowed two runs and fanned two in two innings...the Spokane native has tremendous experience starting against Washington State, however, as he started two of the three contests against the Cougars last season...in those two games, he went 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA, pitching 7.1 innings and allowing just two runs while striking out six...the better of those two starts came at home on April 5, 2016, when he pitched 5.0 shutout innings, striking out five batters and allowing just four hits en route to an 8-0 win...he got the win that day his only career decision and set career highs in innings pitched and strikeouts.