PROVO, Utah – The Gonzaga University baseball team used 17 hits, including five doubles, and a brilliant pitching performance from Marco Gonzales to post a 13-1 win over BYU to even the three-game West Coast Conference series Friday evening.
Gonzales (8-2), who was given double duties for the seventh time this season, went 2-for-3 with a double. Although he was relieved of his hitting duties in the sixth, he remained in the game as the pitcher. He punched out 12 batters and allowing four hits and a walk in eight shutout innings.
His batterymate Maxx Garrett continued to stay hot at the plate Friday, going 3-for-3 with a double, two RBI and a sacrifice bunt to extend his hitting streak to six games.
The Bulldogs (33-22, 13-10 WCC) got a lot of production from the top four batters in the lineup as Clayton Eslick, Steven Halcomb, Royce Bolinger and Alex Stanford combined for eight hits, three two-baggers, nine runs and seven RBI.
After two scoreless frames, the Bulldogs took advantage of two Cougar (22-26, 10-13 WCC) errors to put two runs on the board in the third. With one out, Halcomb hit grounder to shortstop Tanner Chauncey, but his throw to first for the putout sailed wide and out of play, allowing Halcomb to advance to second. Halcomb advanced to third on a wild pitch and although Bolinger grounded out, Stanford backed the No. 3 hitter with a RBI double. With Andy Hunter at the plate, Stanford advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when catcher Wes Guenther’s throw to third baseman Austin Hall to tag bounced by him and into the outfield.
The Bulldogs extended their lead in the fifth inning using four singles by Eslick, Halcomb, Stanford and Gonzales followed by a two-out RBI double by Garrett to give the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead.
Gonzaga put the game out of reach by scoring six runs in the sixth. Billy Moon led off with a single to left and Alex Bonczyk laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Moon over, but a fielding error by first baseman Brock Whitney allowed the speedy center fielder to reach first base safely. After Eslick received a free pass to first to load the bases, Halcomb drove in a run after being hit by the pitch and Bolinger followed with a two-run double down the left field line. Stanford brought Halcomb home with a groundout and Hunter drove in Bolinger with a double to right center. Hunter moved to third on pinch hitter Brock Slavin’s groundout and scored the Bulldogs 12th run on Garrett’s single through the left side.
The Bulldogs got their 13th run across in the seventh inning when Halcomb hit a one-out single, advanced to third on a wild pitch and a passed ball and scored on Bolinger’s single through the left side.
Gonzales retired seven straight batters before turning it over to Sean Santschi in the ninth. Santschi surrendered a leadoff single and three wild pitches to allow the Cougars to score their only run, but the senior secured the win for the Bulldogs by striking out three.
The Bulldogs will close the regular-season looking to take the WCC series from the Cougars Saturday at noon PDT.