RHP Daniel Bies (4-2, 3.63) vs. LHP Hayden Rogers (7-1, 3.46)
DOGS VS. CATS, PART TWO:
Gonzaga was scheduled to take on local rival Washington State on Tuesday, but the contest was rained out and will not be rescheduled...the Bulldogs still took the season series against the Cougars with wins April 17 and 25.
IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS:
This conference finale has huge postseason ramifications...GU is tied for second with LMU at 17-7, three games behind BYU...a sweep gives the Zags a share of the title and the top seed in the WCC Championship.
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...regardless, the Zags need just one win to book their tickets to Stockton...San Diego hosts 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!:
Thursday’s game 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 series finale will be broadcast nationally May 20 by ESPNU...that game is both teams’ WCC finale and a game that could decide the league title, WCC tournament placing, or a WCC tournament berth...Roxy Bernstein and Wes Clements will call the game.
Additionally, the May 19 contest between the two clubs will be an enhanced broadcast on theW.tv...George Devine and Alex Jensen will broadcast that web stream.
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 Baseball Complex’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 Spokane...they’ve lost just two conference series during that time.
GONZAGA VS. BYU ON THE DIAMOND:
Gonzaga holds a slim 22-20 lead in the all-time series against BYU...head coach Mark Machtolf is 15-13 against the Cougars, including a 7-5 mark in Spokane...BYU won the season series last year in Provo two games to one, but the Zags exacted revenge to open the WCC Championships, downing the second-seeded Cougars 5-3 to advance in the winner’s bracket...RHP Brandon Bailey went the distance in that game, striking out a school-record 17 batters while allowing three runs...OF Sam Brown and INF Jeff Bohling drove in all five Gonzaga tallies on two hits apiece.
The Cougars enter this series ranked No. 18 by Collegiate Baseball and with a 33-15 record...they most recently swept Portland last weekend and won a tight 7-6 midweek game against Utah Valley...BYU enters this series as the top offense in the conference, combining for a .328/.404/.506 slash line and averaging 8.73 runs per game...seven Cougars who’ve played in half of BYU’s games have a .300 average or better, and two more off the bench are hitting above that mark as well...OF Brock Hale leads the way with a .381/.467/.665 slash, and he’s one of three who’ve driven in 40 runs and one of five who’ve scored 40.
The pitching staff, meanwhile, has tallied a 4.47 ERA and allows opponents a .285 batting average...LHP Hayden Rogers leads the starters with a 3.46 ERA and 7-1 record...in the bullpen, RHP Mason Marshall has seen the most action, appearing in 24 games and pitching 36.2 innings...he’s posted a 1.47 ERA, a mark that is only bested by LHPa Riley Gates (1.44 ERA in 25.0 innings).
The Bulldogs have outscored opponents 87-47 in the seventh inning or later this year...they have come back to win eight games despite trailing upon 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).
All three games this series will take place at night, which benefits the Zags, who are 16-4 this year under the lights...they’re 6-2 in home night games and 8-1 at night in conference play.
Junior RHP Eli Morgan had a bounce-back outing last Friday, allowing three runs in 7.2 innings in a win over Loyola Marymount...the WCC leader in strikeouts, he added 11 more to his tally, his sixth game of double-digit Ks this season...at 118 strikeouts on the year, he moved into No. 6 on the Zags’ single season list and is four Ks away from a tie for fourth and 10 away from second place...he’s also seventh on the program’s career strikeouts list with 261...earlier in the year, Morgan also had a 26.1-inning scoreless stretch from March 3 to March 25...eight of his 12 starts have been quality starts, and five have been ultra-quality starts.
In his last time out, senior RHP Justin Vernia went toe-to-toe with LMU ace Cory Abbott...in that pitchers’ duel last Saturday, Vernia allowed just one run in seven innings of work, striking out five and stranding seven runners on base...it was his eighth quality start of the season and fifth in WCC play...from March 11 to April 1, Vernia went 23.0 innings without allowing an earned run...his strong senior season is coming on the heels of a standout summer last year in the Alaska Baseball League, where he posted a 0.58 ERA in 46.1 innings, pitching the Mat-Su Miners to a Top of the World Series championship.
Redshirt sophomore RHP Daniel Bies is coming off his second-ever conference start, allowing two runs in three innings against LMU last Sunday...the Woodinville, Wash., native allowed four hits, struck out four batters, and issued four bases on balls...he escaped a bases-loaded, one-out situation with minimal damage in the second against the Lions, getting a double play ball to end the frame...before that start, Bies had been strong his previous three outings: two six-inning starts against Washington State and a scoreless five-inning relief spot against Saint Mary’s April 30...during that eight-game stretch, Bies led the team with a 1.59 ERA, allowing three runs in 17.0 innings and winning all three appearances.