SPOKANE, Wash.—In another wild extra-innings game, the Gonzaga baseball team salvaged a win Sunday against Saint Mary’s, downing the Gaels 12-11 in 10 innings at Patterson Baseball Complex & Washington Trust Field.
Down 11-10 entering the bottom of the ninth, the Bulldogs rallied to tie the game, turning a Jake Vieth leadoff single into the necessary tying run. After pinch runner Branson Trube worked his way to third base, Sam Brown evened the contest with a single up the middle.
In the top of the 10th, Gonzaga reliever Daniel Bies retired the Gaels in order, giving the Zags another shot at a walkoff in the bottom of the frame. Second baseman Justin Jacobs drew a walk to begin the inning, and he moved over on a sacrifice bunt. After the bunt, Jace VanDeBrake ripped a single up the middle, allowing Jacobs to dash home for the 12-11 victory.
It was a tale of two games as the vast majority of the scoring happened early on; only Gonzaga’s final two runs came after the fifth. The Gaels began the day with a pair of scores in the first, but the Bulldogs got those back and much more with two swings of the bat. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the frame, Jacobs, Gonzaga’s cleanup hitter, homered to right center for a grand slam. Four batters later, catcher Jake Roberts homered out to left field scoring three more for an early 7-2 advantage.
The Gaels countered with two runs in the second and another in the third, pulling within two at 7-5, but the Bulldogs again used the long ball to re-extend their lead. Roberts drew a one-out walk for a base runner in the bottom half of the third, and Brown joined him on the bags after another knock to left field. Freshman designated hitter Troy Johnston then hit a blast out to left, putting Gonzaga ahead 10-5.
After Johnston’s blast, however, Saint Mary’s would not go away. The Gaels scored four in the fourth off reliever Sam Hellinger, tallying three hits and benefiting from one costly Bulldog error. Then, in the fifth, the Gaels took a lead on a two-run home run from Zach Kirtley, both runs being unearned as the Zags should have been out of the frame but for another defensive miscue.
After the fifth, however, both bullpens kept the game at the 11-10 scoreline until the ninth. Drew Strotman, who entered in the fourth inning for Saint Mary’s, kept the Zags off the scoreboard until Brown’s game-tying hit in the ninth, and Ken Waldichuk gave up the game-winning hit in extras. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, saw five shutout innings from Bies, who entered the game to begin the sixth inning. A redshirt sophomore from Woodinville, Wash., Bies scattered five hits for the win, his fourth of the year and the first of his career against a West Coast Conference foe.
· Brown went 5-for-6 with an RBI and two runs scored Sunday, becoming the first Zag in five years to tally five hits in a game. He also moved into the Zags’ top 10 in career hits, ending the game alone in seventh with 232. The redshirt senior from Mill Creek, Wash., is already just two hits away from a top five spot on the career hits list.
· The Zags hit seven home runs during the three-game series against Saint Mary’s. That’s the third-most since game-by-game records are first available starting in 2008. They also hit seven home runs in three games at Utah Valley in 2010 and eight home runs in two at Texas Tech that same year. Three of GU’s homers against the Gaels came Sunday, a season high.
· Roberts homered in all three games of the series, boosting his yearly total to five. He also extended his on-base streak to 13 games. During that 13-game stretch, Roberts leads the team with a .467 average, 21 hits, seven extra-base hits, 16 runs scored, and 15 RBIs.
· With the win, the Zags (15-6 WCC) kept a hold on third place in the conference standings. They’re now a whole game behind Loyola Marymount in first and a half-game behind BYU in second. San Diego is fourth at 14-7, and the Bulldogs own a tiebreaker with the Toreros by virtue of winning the series between the two clubs in April. Saint Mary’s is in fifth at 11-7, one and a half games shy of San Diego.
Gonzaga head coach Mark Machtolf:
· “[Saint Mary’s] did a great job. All credit to them offensively, but we didn’t make a lot of pitches early and played poorly on defense to open the door.”
· “Daniel was outstanding. He’s been good, he just hasn’t been healthy. He pitched well mid-week and felt good today. Boy was he a savior.”
Redshirt senior Sam Brown:
· “There’s been crazy games in the last three series, but we’ve been really good at keeping our poise, being resilient, and grinding out games. Today was probably the weirdest of them all, but we figured it out.”
The Zags (26-16, 15-6 WCC) will be off next weekend for their bye in WCC play. They’ll next be in action Friday, May 12, against Loyola Marymount. That game, the first of three against the Lions, will begin at 6:00 p.m. at Patterson Baseball Complex & Washington Trust Field.