STOCKTON, Calif. – The search for its first West Coast Conference Championship victory continues for the Gonzaga University baseball team as the Bulldogs stumbled in its tournament opener 5-1 to Loyola Marymount University Thursday night at Banner Island Ballpark.
The defeat moves Gonzaga (25-28) into an elimination game . The Bulldogs will face Santa Clara University, who lost 5-2 to top seed Pepperdine University, Friday at noon.
All-WCC first team pitcher Colin Welmon kept the Gonzaga offense off-balance all night. Welmon got the win after throwing a complete game. Charged with one run, Welmon held the Zags to just six hits.
Freshman Brandon Bailey was the losing pitcher of record. The right-handed hitter did not allow a run until the fourth inning but was ultimately responsible for five runs on nine hits. Bailey also struck out eight in his fourth complete game of the season.
Gonzaga scored the first run of the game in the top half of the third inning. Nicholas Minteer led started the frame with a single to left and advanced to second base on a Joey Harris sacrifice bunt. Mitchell Gunsolus then advanced on a throwing error to put two Zags in scoring position. Next batter, Caleb Wood, scored the run on a fielder’s choice ground ball where the LMU took the force out at first base.
LMU took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Lions had four hits in the frame including RBI base knocks from Tanner Donnels and Jimmy Jack. The inning ended as Bailey struck out Kevin Garcia, which stranded two runners in scoring position.
The Lions extended its lead over the Zags to 5-1 in the sixth inning. Jack drove in two more runs with a double down the right field line and Garcia brought in another two batters later on a single up the middle.
The elimination game between Gonzaga and Santa Clara will be televised on the theW.tv Friday. The winner of that game advances to the 7 p.m. game to face the loser of LMU and Pepperdine. To make the championship game Saturday, the Bulldogs will need to win both games Friday.