Worth the wait: Zags beat USF in 13th - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Worth the wait: Zags beat USF in 13th

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by Gonzaga Univ. athletics

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- Gonzaga University scored four runs in the top of the 13th inning to claim a 6-2 West Coast Conference victory over the University of San Francisco in a game that was suspended due to darkness back on April 10 with the score tied at 2-2 prior the start of the 13th inning.

The Zags (15-31, 3-9 WCC) used the four runs and a perfect inning by Mark Phillips to post the win and clinch the series over USF (24-25, 7-8 WCC). Gonzaga won the series opener 3-2 on April 9, dropped game two of the series 20-9 the morning of April 10 before darkness suspended play in game three of the series started later that afternoon.

Steven Halcomb led the way with four hits and three RBI while Clayton Eslick added three hits and one RBI in the series finale. Andrew Danner picked up the win after entering the day as the pitcher of record because he pitched a scoreless 12th inning before play was suspended just over a month ago.

Pinch-hitter Ernesto Ortiz led off the 13th with a single to left and Drew Heid followed with a double to centerfield to score Ortiz and put Gonzaga up 3-2. Cameron Edman then sacrifice bunted Heid over to third and after an intentional walk to Kyle LaHonta, Chris Sturdivant came through with a with an RBI base-hit to left that scored Heid. Two batters later Halcomb picked up his fourth hit of a ball game, pulling a 0-1 pitch through he left side for a two-out two-run single to put the Zags up 6-2. Phillips came in and sat the Dons down in order to preserve the win.

Back on April 10 the Bulldogs took advantage of some free passes in the second inning as USF starting pitcher Jordan Remen walked the bases loaded but the Zags could only push one run across on a Halcomb RBI-single to centerfield. Remer escaped further damage by getting a strikeout and an inning-ending double play to keep the Zags lead at 1-0.

Gonzaga was able to add another run in the seventh as Hunter got things going with a two-out base hit and later moved up to second on wild pitch. USF then pitched around Castellitto, issuing an intentional walk to get to Eslick who came through with a two-out RBI-single to left field, scoring Hunter to build GU's lead to 2-0.

After throwing 129 pitches and allowing just one earned run in his 7.2 inning start against the University of Washington April 6, Baron was equally as impressive against the Dons. The left hander retired the first 12 hitters he faced and took a no-hitter in seventh before a two-out triple by the Dons ended Baron's run at Gonzaga's first no-hitter since Mar. 4, 1990 when Billy Walker no-hit Central Washington University. Baron came right back to get the next batter to fly out to end the inning and strand the runner on third.

The Dons finally got to Baron in the eighth as the first batter reached after the first base umpire ruled that Baron had pulled his foot off the bag while covering first on a ground ball to first baseman Edman. The next USF batter then pulled a pitch just inside the third base bag and down the left field line for a double to put runners on second and third. Baron got a fly out that resulted in one USF run to come across and cut the Zags lead to 2-1. He then got the next batter to also fly out before giving way to reliever Billy Moon after surrendering a walk. With runners on the corners, USF's Derek Poppert pulled a pitch down the right field line for a two-out RBU double to bring home the tying run. Moon came back to strike out Stephen Yarrow to end the inning and keep it a 2-2 ball game.

Both teams went down in order in the ninth inning to send the game into extras where the Bulldogs later missed out on a scoring opportunity in the 11th. Kevin Hawk led off the frame with a double and one batter later, Heid was intentionally walked. Edman followed with a pop fly single to right center to load the bases for the Zags three and four-hole hitters in Hunter and Castellitto. Facing the Bulldog top two run producers, USF reliever Matt Hiserman made some quality pitches to strike out Hunter and keep the Zags off the board by getting Castellitto to ground out to end the Gonzaga 12th.

The Bulldogs continue play in the bay area, traveling to Moraga, Calif. to face Saint Mary's College in three-game weekend series beginning 3 p.m. Friday. Saturday and Sunday's matchups are slated for 1 p.m. starts.

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