SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga University baseball had its nine-game winning streak against West Coast Conference foe Santa Clara University snapped Saturday, as the Zags fell 3-2 at Nelson Wolff Stadium in the Irish Baseball Classic.
Gonzaga drops to 2-5 overall while the Broncos improve to an even 4-4.
Santa Clara took the late lead by loading the bases in the bottom of the eighth inning off reliever Kenny Smith (0-2). The go ahead run scored on a Casey Munoz pinch-hit single to left field. Even with the bases jammed, Smith limited the damage in the inning and recorded the final three outs to leave three Broncos on base.
GU gave one last push in the top of the ninth by getting the tying run on second with one out. However Bronco reliever Reece Karalus closed the game on a ground out and a Caleb Wood fly out.
Reigning WCC Rawling Pitcher of the Week Andrew Sopko (1-0) made the start for GU and left with a no decision. The right-hander allowed two runs on eight hits and struck out four in six innings.
Santa Clara scored the first run of the game in the opening at bat. Greg Harisis led off with a double to left field and advanced to third on a Sopko balk. Harisis scored on a Czaplak groundout to shortstop Mitchell Gunsolus.
Gonzaga tied the game in the fourth inning. With two outs, Payden Cawley Lamb had an RBI single to left field to knot the game at one.
An inning later, GU took its only lead of the game. Brock Slavin (walked) and Joey Harris (error) reached to open the frame. Sam Brown grounded out to first to bring home Slavin for the 2-1 edge. The Zags would load the bases with two outs but SCU starter Steven Wilson escaped on a Cory LeBrun ground out.
Wood nearly drove in an insurance run in the top of the seventh. With Jeffrey Bohling on second with two outs, Wood singled to right field but unfortunately Bohling was thrown out at home by C.J. Jacobe.
Sopko left in the seventh inning for Smith after allowing a leadoff single. Two batters later, Harisis doubled to right field to bring in the tying run. Later in the inning Santa Clara loaded the bases with two outs but Smith stopped the bleeding by forcing Rory Graf-Brennen to ground out.
The Zags had another opportunity to take the lead in the eighth. With two outs and two on, Beau Bozett pinch hit for Slavin against SCU reliever Chris Heckert. A back-and-forth at bat went Heckert’s way as Bozett grounded out to end the threat.
GU closes out the weekend Sunday. The Zags will face the winner of University of Notre Dame and University of the Incarnate Word game which will be played Saturday afternoon. The game with be played at 9:30 a.m. (PT).