Martin fires gem as bullpen holds off LMU to earn win - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Martin fires gem as bullpen holds off LMU to earn win

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Courtesy Gonzaga Athletics

Mark Phillips struck Loyola Marymount University's Joe Vierra with the bases loaded to end the game and preserve an 8-4 win for Gonzaga University against LMU in front of 819 fans at the Patterson Baseball Complex and Washington Trust Field Friday evening.

In a rematch of last season's West Coast Conference Championship Series, the Bulldogs (18-32, 6-10 WCC) used a strong outing from starting pitcher Cody Martin to take the series opener from the Lions (22-27, 4-12 WCC).

Martin worked a season-high 8.1 innings, allowing just three earned runs and striking out four to earn his fifth win of the season. The offense banged out 15 hits, led by Mark Castellitto who drove in three runs and scored twice while Billy Moon added three hits and also scored twice.

LMU was the first to get on the board, using a Bulldog error and a two-out RBI base-hit to take a 1-0 lead. Gonzaga evened things up in the second inning as Moon opened the frame with an opposite field single to left center. One batter later Cameron Edman lined a base-hit to center before Royce Bolinger followed with an RBI single through the left side to score Moon from second.

Castellitto led off the third with a double just inside the third base bag and down the left field line. Clayton Eslick followed up with a single to left centerfield that saw Castellitto score from second to give the Zags a 2-1 lead. An inning later Castellitto highlighted a four-run frame with a three-run double. Ernesto Ortiz started things off with a walk, Drew Heid was hit by a pitch and Steven Halcomb reached after he put down a sacrifice bunt that LMU starting pitcher Alex Gillingham fielded and fired to third in attempt to get Ortiz but was late, loading the bases for Castellitto. The Bulldogs leading run produce did just that, driving  the first pitch he saw deep into the right centerfield gap for a bases clearing three-run double. He later came across on Moon's sacrifice fly to right to push the Zags lead to 6-1.

Martin had settled in after surrendering the run in the first, working around three hits and retiring the lead-off hitter in each of the first five innings. LMU finally got a lead-off hitter aboard in the sixth but Martin retired the next three hitters to keep the game at 6-1. The Lions strung three consecutive two-out hits together in the seventh, bringing two runs across but Gonzaga got a run back in the bottom half on a Halcomb two-out double that scored Ortiz to make it a 7-3 ball game.

Martin again worked around a single and posted a scoreless eighth before the Zags tacked on another run in their half of the inning. Moon picked up his third hit of the night with a one-out double off the left centerfield wall and Andy Hunter followed with a hard hit single to center to put runners on the corners. Edman then chopped a ground ball to the LMU third baseman who fired to second just as Hunter slid in, forcing the second baseman to not make the throw and preventing the double play and Moon to come across to make it an 8-3 game.

Things got interesting in the ninth as LMU picked up a run with a solo homer to cut it to 8-4. With his pitch count mounting and after allowing back-to-back singles, Martin gave way to left-hander Liam Baron who came in a struck out left handed hitter Matt Lowenstein for the inning's second out. After Baron allowed a single that loaded the bases, LMU then went to its bench, sending the right handed hitting Vierra to plate as the tying run. Gonzaga countered with right hander Mark Phillips who got Vierra to swing over a 2-2 breaking pitch to preserve the 8-4 victory.

Martin (5-6) struck out four and walked just one while Phillips earned his second career save. Eslick extended his hitting streak to ten with his two hits while Moon's three-hit game was his third in his last six games. Ortiz also recorded two hits and scored a pair of runs.

Gonzaga and LMU resume their series 1 p.m. Saturday.

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