SPOKANE, Wash. – In a rare West Coast Conference versus Southern Conference match up, the Gonzaga University baseball team split its doubleheader with Appalachian State University at Patterson Baseball Complex and Washington Trust Field Saturday. In game one the Zags won 4-0 and the Mountaineers rallied for a 6-2 victory in the nightcap.
With the split, the Zags move to 32-15-1 overall and Appalachian State goes to 26-19.
In the opener it was All-American Marco Gonzales (7-2) putting on an All-American performance. Gonzales delivered a complete game shutout and scattered six hits while striking out 10 Mountaineers.
After an ASU single in the first inning, Gonzales would retire the next 12 batters until the fifth. With two outs, Preston Troutman and Brandon Burris hit back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners. However, Gonzales escaped the threat by getting a fly out to left field to end the inning.
Early on the game appeared to be a pitchers duel between Gonzales and Mountaineer Jaime Nunn. However GU was on the board first with by scoring in the third inning.
Travis Forbes led off the GU half of the inning with a hard hit double over the left fielders head. Forbes then advanced on a well placed Taylor Jones sacrifice bunt and scored on a Mitchell Gunsolus single to right field.
The Zags struck again with two outs in the sixth inning. Steven Halcomb and Alex Bonczyk hit back-to-back singles and advanced to second and third on a Nunn wild pitch. Billy Moon then hit a grounder that the Mountaineer first baseman botched allowing Moon to reach and Halcomb to score.
Gonzaga added another insurance run on a perfectly executed safety squeeze by Bonczyk and a homerun crushed by Moon. With a 4-0 lead, Gonzales finished what he started for his second complete game shutout of the season.
Game two started in a similar manner as the first with a tight contest between the starting pitchers.
Appalachian State was the first team on the board when the visitors took advantage of the third Bulldog error of the game. A throwing error put Mountaineers on the corners and the first run was pushed across on a Brandon Burris single up the middle.
The Bulldogs tied the game in almost identical fashion. Caleb Wood reached on a base hit and advanced to second on a wild throw to first base from the Mountaineers. Wood advanced to third on a Cory LeBrun groundout and scored on a Halcomb sacrifice bunt.
The game drastically shifted in seventh inning. GU start Tyler Olson (9-3) was pulled after a leadoff single for reliever Kenny Smith. Appalachian State would load the bases with one out when Michael Pierson hit a grand slam to right field giving ASU a 5-1 edge.
Smith’s next pitch was behind the Mountaineers batter and as a result the home plate umpire ejected him from the game.
Andrew Sopko replaced Smith and pitched the last 2.2 inning for the Zags allowing a homerun in the eighth.
GU also scored in the seventh on a Gunsolus triple to right field but Appalachian State would take a 6-2 victory.
Gonzaga concludes its fifth and final doubleheader of the regular season. The Zags and Mountaineers conclude the series Sunday with a 3:05 p.m. first pitch.