SPOKANE, Wash.—The Gonzaga baseball team saw some hard hits Sunday, but luck was not on the Bulldogs’ side as visiting San Diego took the series finale 4-1 and avoided a sweep at Patterson Baseball Complex & Washington Trust Field.
Like the first game of the series, both teams scored in the first inning. The Toreros got an RBI single from catcher Riley Adams, but Zag second baseman Justin Jacobs leveled the score with an RBI knock of his own. His single up the middle plated left fielder Sam Brown, who led the home half of the frame off with a single.
The Bulldogs put men on base in each of the next five innings, but it was San Diego who scored the game’s next runs. After an infield single from second baseman Paul Kunst in the fifth, right fielder Hunter Mercado-Hood brought him home with a home run. Mercado-Hood’s homer originally looked like a fly ball, but the wind, blowing out to left field at the time, pushed the ball just past Brown’s glove and over the fence for two runs.
San Diego added another unearned tally in the seventh, disrupting what could have been another quality start for Gonzaga freshman Casey Legumina. The right-hander from Chandler, Ariz., outlasted two San Diego pitchers, finishing the seventh inning. He struck out six batters on the day, including two big punchouts to strand runners in the first and the fifth.
The Toreros sent closer Troy Conyers out in the bottom of the seventh with a 4-1 lead. After a hitless seventh, Jeff Bohling led the eighth off with a single to right – his third of the game – but Conyers struck out the next three Bulldog batters. In the ninth, Daniel Fredrickson ripped a two-out single to left field for another baserunner, but Tyler Frost bounced into a fielder’s choice to end the game.
Legumina took the loss, his fourth of the year, while San Diego reliever Sean Barry picked up the win. Conyers earned the save, his eighth of the season, after allowing two hits and striking out five Zags in three innings of work.
· Legumina equaled his career long by pitching through the seventh inning Sunday. Since West Coast Conference play started on March 18, he’s posted a 2.16 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 25.0 innings. Today’s loss was his first during that stretch.
· Bohling saw his fourth three-hit game of the season, the only Zag with multiple knocks on Sunday. In all, however, seven Bulldog starters registered hits, and Gonzaga out-hit San Diego 9-7 despite suffering the loss. The Bulldogs also saw numerous hard-hit balls find San Diego gloves with eight fly balls to Torero outfielders, including two from Brown that were hit into the wind in right field and fell near the warning track.
· After the three-game series against No. 19/20 San Diego, the Bulldogs are 4-4 against ranked foes this season, getting two against the Toreros and one each versus Cal State Fullerton and Washington. This is the Zags’ first three-game series win over a ranked team since they took two of three at Tulane during the 2015 season.
· Both teams entered the game tied for second in the WCC standings at 8-3 along with Loyola Marymount. The Toreros were voted to win the WCC title by the conference’s coaches, and the Zags were picked second.
Assistant coach Brandon Harmon
· “We just didn’t get the big hit like we’ve gotten the last two nights, but a good overall effort on the weekend to take two of three from a good club. We’re in a good spot here after four weekend series in conference play.”
· “I don’t think you could ask more from Casey. That’s his fourth really good outing in a row. A nothing groundball to start that inning for an infield hit, and then on a day it’s blowing out to left, they got one up there. Another six inches on Sam’s glove, we might be bringing that one back.”
Gonzaga (17-14, 8-4 WCC) returns to the road for four games starting on Tuesday, April 11. They’ll play a single game at No. 1 Oregon State on Tuesday before flying to Santa Clara for three conference games against the Broncos Thursday, April 13 to Saturday, April 15.