SPOKANE, Wash. – The quest to stand atop the West Coast Conference was fulfilled Saturday as Gonzaga University baseball clinched the WCC regular-season title with a 6-1 victory over Santa Clara University at Stephen Schott Stadium. The landmark moment marks the second WCC regular-season title in program history with the last coming in 2009.
The win also gives the Bulldogs (30-14-1, 17-6 WCC) the No. 1 seed at the WCC Championship Tournament held at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, Calif., May 23-25. The top four teams in the final WCC standings earn a berth to the tournament for the neutral-site championship.
The Broncos remain winless in league play and move to 10-34 overall, 0-20 WCC.
The game was a 1-1 stalemate until the Bulldogs broke away in the fifth inning. With one out and the bases loaded, Mitchell Gunsolus connected for his seventh double of the year to drive in two Zags. The next batter, Caleb Wood, punished one over the left field wall for a three run homerun.
Wood’s third homer of the season gave the Zags a 6-1 edge which was more than enough for starter Tyler Olson (9-2) who has won each of his last five starts.
The Spokane, Wash., native gave up one run in the first inning on a three consecutive Bronco singles but quickly settled down. Olson paced the Zags by throwing seven innings of six hit ball. The lefty allowed just one earned run and lowered his team-best ERA to 2.17.
Santa Clara did threaten in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Broncos Stephen Takajashi (error) and Justin Viele (hit by pitch) reached. Olson then struck out Looney for his seventh punch out of the game before retiring Greg Harisis with a pop out to left field to end the inning.
Mike Couch picked up the loss for Santa Clara. The Bulldogs had success against the right-handed pitcher who was responsible for all six runs in his eight innings.
The Bulldogs pieced together 10 hits with two apiece from Wood, Gunsolus and Alex Bonczyk.
Zach Abbruzza pitched in relief for the Bulldogs. He went 2.0 innings without surrendering a hit.
Gonzaga will go for its third WCC series sweep Sunday against the Broncos. The two teams wrap up the three-game set at 1 p.m. at Schott Stadium.