Gonzaga baseball edges out a 7-6 victory over Santa Clara - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Gonzaga baseball edges out a 7-6 victory over Santa Clara

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics

By Gonzaga Athletics

SANTA CLARA, Calif.--The Gonzaga baseball team eliminated two deficits Thursday night, ultimately prevailing in a competitive 7-6 ballgame at Santa Clara's Stephen Schott Stadium.

Santa Clara took the game's first lead on a first-inning two-run shot from Niko Holm, but the Zags countered immediately, getting two of their own in the second. Jeff Bohling and Jake Vieth drew back-to-back walks with one out, and Jace VanDeBrake plated both of them a batter later with a double to left field.

In the fourth, Gonzaga took its first lead of the night, scoring three runs on four straight two-out hits. After the first two batters of the frame made outs, the bottom third of the lineup connected for two singles and a double, with catcher Jake Roberts tallying a two-RBI two-bagger. Roberts advanced to third on a SCU throwing error, and the senior came home when Sam Brown knocked the first pitch he saw up the middle for an RBI single.

The Broncos got one of those runs back in the bottom of the frame with a solo home run from Evan Haberle, their second of the night. An inning later, the home team re-tied the game at 5-5 with four singles from the first five batters. Haberle once again delivered the key hit, sending a 2-2 pitch from Gonzaga starter Eli Morgan into center field and driving in two runs.

The home team once again took a lead in the seventh. After the first two batters reached base, the Zags issued a one-out intentional walk to load the bases. Ryan McCarthy then lifted a fly ball out to right, allowing Holm to score from third on the sacrifice. Morgan escaped further damage, however, by getting a groundout to end the inning.

Gonzaga returned the favor in the top of the eighth, loading the bases with a pair of singles and a one-out walk. After the Broncos sent Jacob Steffens out to the mound in place of reliever Eric Lex, Zag right fielder Daniel Fredrickson sent Steffens' first pitch of the night into center field, allowing Gunnar Schubert and VanDeBrake to score. That two-RBI base knock put Zags ahead 8-7.

Before the bottom of the eighth, Zag closer Wyatt Mills entered the game in place of Morgan. Santa Clara's first batter reached base on a GU fielding error and quickly advanced to second on a wild pitch, but Mills retired the next three batters to end the threat.

After the Zags went down in order in the top of the ninth, Mills returned the favor in the bottom of the inning, getting a leadoff groundout before striking out the game's final two batters. The two-inning outing earned Mills the save, his sixth of the season, and Morgan the win. Lex took the loss.

Bulldog Bites:

  • Gonzaga's bottom third of the lineup -- Schubert, VanDeBrake, and Roberts -- combined for eight of the Zags' 11 hits along with five runs and four RBIs. Both Schubert and VanDeBrake set or tied season highs with three hits, and VanDeBrake and Roberts each equaled their yearly bests with two RBIs apiece.
  • Mills earned his sixth save of the season in strong fashion, striking out four batters without a hit allowed in two innings of work. He's third in the West Coast Conference in saved games. Additionally, the Spokane native has posted 21 strikeouts in his last seven appearances and 12.2 innings pitched. That's an average of 14.92 strikeouts every nine innings.
  • Morgan pitched through the seventh inning Thursday night, allowing all six runs and 13 hits from Santa Clara. The junior from Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., did strike out eight batters, however, advancing to 80 on the season. He entered the game atop the WCC and ninth in the nation in total strikeouts.

Mac Talk: Thoughts from Gonzaga head coach Mark Machtolf

  • "Really resilient effort in not the prettiest of games. We did a great job of punching back every time we needed to, and Morgan did a good job minimizing the damage with some big pitches."
  • "Our 7-8-9 hitters were outstanding tonight and won that game for us. There were many quality ab's by Schubert, VanDeBrake, and Roberts."

Next Up:

The Bulldogs (18-14, 9-4 WCC) and Broncos (7-26, 3-7 WCC) continue the series on Friday, April 14, with another 6:00 p.m. game at Stephen Schott Stadium. Senior righty Justin Vernia will toe the rubber for Gonzaga, while Santa Clara will turn to fellow right-hander Grant Nechak.

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