SPOKANE, Wash. – Sophomore pitcher Andrew Sopko led Gonzaga University baseball to its third West Coast Conference series victory Sunday as he allowed just three hits in eight innings in a 2-1 winner over Santa Clara University at Patterson Baseball Complex.
“Our starters came up huge all weekend,” head coach Mark Machtolf said. “We had that heartbreaker Friday night but our guys kept us in every game. We are getting better at executing with runners on base but it helps when you have guys throwing like they were this weekend.”
Sopko made quick work of the Broncos (14-21, 5-7 WCC) for his third win of the season. He did not allow an extra-base hit and recorded 12 of his 24 outs on fly balls. He struck out six and walked just one. The lone run allowed was unearned because it scored on a Gonzaga (12-22, 8-7 WCC) fielding error.
Joey Harris was responsible for driving in both of the Zag runs. They scored in the bottom of the second after Sam Brown and Cory LeBrun opened the inning with back-to-back singles. Harris took the Steven Wilson offering deep to right field which allowed the runs to score.
“Joey is a very capable hitter,” Machtolf said. “He came up with a timely hit that we needed. He had a very good weekend for us and is swinging the bat with a lot more confidence.”
Wilson was the losing pitcher of record despite his strong performance for SCU. He worked eight innings allowing two-runs on nine hits.
Santa Clara got its lone run on the board in the sixth inning. Kert Woods reached second base to leadoff the inning on a fielding miscue by Payden Cawley Lamb in right field. Greg Harisis then singled to put runners on the corners with no one out.
Jose Vizcaino Jr. then dropped a sacrifice bunt to cut the Zags lead 2-1.However, Sopko escaped the jam by retiring Stevie Berman on a fly out to right field and striking out Quinton Perry.
Senior Karl Myers replaced Sopko for the ninth. After a Vizcaino Jr. leadoff single, Myers induced a ground ball double play. The right-hander earned his second save of the season by striking out Perry to end the game.
Brown had his ninth multiple hit game of the year by going 3-for-4. Lebrun had a pair of hits while Mitchell Gunsolus, Caleb Wood, Lamb and Harris each had one.
“We came out with a lot of energy and played hard,” Machtolf said. “There is a log jam in the league standings so there is a lot at stake in these games.”
The Bulldogs resume WCC play Thursday as University of Portland travels to Spokane for a three-game series. Prior to that series, GU welcomes in-state rival Washington State University to Patterson Tuesday in a 6 p.m. midweek game.