Zags beat Lions 6-3, move into 2nd place in WCC - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Zags beat Lions 6-3, move into 2nd place in WCC

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics

By Gonzaga Athletics
SPOKANE, Wash.—The Gonzaga baseball team returned to Patterson Baseball Complex after 12 days off, but the Zags showed few signs of rust as they began a key West Coast Conference series against Loyola Marymount with a 6-3 win Friday.

Gonzaga wasted little time in taking the lead, scoring in the bottom of the first. Leadoff man Sam Brown ripped a double down the right field line for an immediate runner in scoring position. Cleanup hitter Justin Jacobs brought him home with a single through the right side of the infield.

The Bulldogs added to their advantage with three tallies in the third inning after Brown once again led off with a hit. After that bunt single, the Zags loaded the bases with two of the next three batters. Third baseman Jeff Bohling then drove in Brown with a ground ball to short, and catcher Jake Roberts followed up with a well-struck single to left center, allowing both Jacobs and Tyler Frost to scamper home.

Loyola Marymount got on the scoreboard with two hits – the Lions’ first two of the game – in the fifth, but GU countered with two more in their half of the frame. Roberts hit a leadoff double of his own, and he came around on a single from Gunnar Schubert. Brown then drove in the GU shortstop with a sacrifice fly and a 6-1 Gonzaga advantage.

The Lions scored single runs in the seventh and the eighth to put the game at 6-3 with all of Loyola Marymount’s runs coming off GU starter Eli Morgan. Despite the runs, Morgan turned in another quality start, going 7.2 innings while striking out 11 batters. He earned the win – his eighth of the year – while Wyatt Mills picked up the save after getting the final four outs of the game.

Bulldog Bites:

  • With the win, the Bulldogs moved into a tie for second place in the WCC standings. Both they and Loyola Marymount are 16-6 in WCC play with five more conference games left. BYU tops the league with a 19-4 WCC mark, two and a half games ahead of second place.
  • As a team, the Zags combined for 13 hits Friday night, getting at least one base knock in six of their eight trips to the plate. Seven of nine starters registered a hit, and both Brown and Branson Trube led the way at three. Two more – Roberts and Vieth – saw two base knocks each.
  • Brown continued his hot play despite the long break, responding from a five-hit game April 30 with three more against LMU. Those three pushed the redshirt senior to 235 in his four-year Zag career, fifth-most by any Bulldog. The Mill Creek, Wash., native has 13 hits (13x24, 3 2B, 2 BB) over his last five games, good for a .542 batting average.
  • Morgan struck out 11 Lion batters Friday night, his sixth outing with double-digit strikeouts. He remains atop the West Coast Conference in the category, and his 118 on the year are the sixth-most by a Bulldog in a single season. He also moved into seventh on the program’s career strikeouts list; he’s fanned 261 batters three years.
  • Mills struck out three of his four batters faced for the save, his ninth of the year. The senior closer from Spokane now has 45 Ks on the year as opposed to just four walks. Two of those free passes were intentional.

Zag Speak:

Gonzaga head coach Mark Machtolf

  • “I thought Eli was really good. He made two or three mistakes all game, and there’s their scores [LMU’s]. Offensively, though, I thought that was one of our more complete efforts. We hit six or seven line drives that could have been more.”
  • “It’s nice to play big games in May. That’s what you want, for them all to be big. They’re down to five, so they’re all huge. Tomorrow will be big; they have a really good arm on the mound.”

Gonzaga catcher Jake Roberts

  • “I took the same approach into the six-spot today. Coach Mac did a good job telling me not to change a thing, keep doing what I’m doing, and that’s what I did. I stayed within myself, stayed in the middle of the field, and good things happened.”

Next Up:

The Zags (27-16, 16-6 WCC) and Lions (32-15, 16-6 WCC) continue the key series on Saturday, May 13 with another 6:00 p.m. contest. RHP Justin Vernia will take the mound for Gonzaga while Loyola Marymount will counter with RHP Cory Abbott.

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