STOCKTON, Calif. – A four-run sixth and ninth inning were the deciding factors Friday as the Gonzaga University baseball team was chased out of the West Coast Conference Baseball Tournament 8-1 by the BYU Cougars at Banner Island Ballpark. The Bulldogs entered as the No. 1 seed only to be ousted in both of its games in the double elimination tournament with an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament on the line.
“Not that we are satisfied with the season but we had some tremendous accomplishments,” head coach Mark Machtolf said. “We did a lot of good things and with a lot of new players. I feel good about how each man contributed.”
The Zags conclude the regular-season 32-21-1 overall while BYU moves to 32-20.
WCC Pitcher of the Year, Tyler Olson, made the start for Gonzaga against Jeff Barker. The two previously faced off in Spokane with Olson getting the better of his counterpart. Today, however, was Barker’s day.
Both pitchers were in control early in the game with Olson setting an early tone for GU. A 10 pitch first inning made quick work of the Cougars for Olson and the Bulldogs appeared to have early momentum. The Bulldogs bats were hitting the ball hard off Barker but missed opportunities would haunt the club.
Gonzaga had the first legitimate chance to score with the bases loaded in the top of the third inning. With just one out, Barker was able to work out of his jam after recording a strikeout and a pop up to the shortstop.
GU had similar issues Thursday against University San Francisco with leaving the bases loaded. In total the Zags left bases full of Bulldogs four times in the two games.
“I thought our guys did a good job on offense,” Machtolf said. “But when we needed a big hit we did not get it. It was in reverse for them. Give BYU credit though, they battled today too.”
However the Bulldogs drew first blood with solid two out hitting from Marco Gonzales and Travis Forbes. A Gonzales double allowed Forbes to drive him home with a bloop single to right field. The next batter, Payden Cawley Lamb, connected for a double to deep left field but Forbes was gunned out at home on a well-timed BYU relay.
The lead was short lived as the Cougars took the lead in the bottom half of the frame. Back-to-back hits from Brennon Anderson and Adam Law tied the game. Kelton Caldwell and Bret Lopez each singled in another run and the Cougars took a 4-1 edge before Olson escaped the inning on a line drive he fielded himself.
Barker’s day ended after issuing a walk to Wood to open the eighth inning. Replacing Barker was James Lengal who took the Zags last offense punch of the tournament. Wood would single putting the first two runners on for Gonzales with no outs.
A called third strike sat down Gonzales and the next batter Forbes grounded into an inning ending double play.
Olson’s day ended in the eighth and he was relieved by Arturo Reyes. The Cougars loaded the bases and push across four more runs to all but end the Zags run in the tournament.
Despite throwing five shutout innings, Olson was tabbed with the loss allowing 11 hits and six runs while striking out five Cougars.
Gonzaga tallied 11 hits with each batter in the lineup recording one. Lamb, with three, was the lone Bulldog to have a multi-hit effort.
“This team came together and continues to get better as the year went along,” Machtolf said. “I told them to keep their heads up and to know we are proud of them.”
The Bulldogs can still make the postseason by earning an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament field. The selection of the field will be released Monday.