PROVO, Utah - The Gonzaga University and BYU baseball teams put together a hitting explosion in their first contest as West Coast Conference opponents, combining a total of 25 hits, including four doubles, a triple and a solo home run. But a two-run eighth inning lifted the Cougars to a 6-4 win over the Bulldogs Thursday evening.
Steven Halcomb led the hitting effort for the Bulldogs, going 4-for-5 with two doubles. Alex Bonczyk added two hits and two stolen bases, while Maxx Garrett stretched his only hit on the evening into a double.
Bulldog starter Tyler Olson (5-4) struck out eight batters but allowed all six runs on 14 hits and a walk. His counterpart, Desmond Poulson, received a no-decision despite allowed three earned runs on nine hits and a walk. Mason Marshall (2-1) earned the win after surrendering two hits in two shutout innings of relief.
In the first inning, Halcomb hit a one-out double and scored on Royce Bolinger's RBI single to right. Bolinger advanced to second on the play on a fielding error by right fielder Kelton Caldwell and Andy Hunter brought the run across with a RBI single to center. BYU answered back in its half of the frame when Wes Guenther hit a one-out double, Caldwell walked and back-to-back two-out singles by Alex Wolfe and Christian Mua evened the score 2-2.
The Cougars broke the 2-2 tie in the third when their hottest hitter, Austin Hall, hit a two-out solo shot to left field.
The Bulldogs stranded three runners in scoring position between the third and fifth innings but came through in the sixth. With two out, Bonczyk singled to center field, stole his second bag on the evening and tied the game on Marco Gonzales' RBI single to the second baseman. After Gonzales moved to second on a wild pitch, Halcomb brought in the fourth run with a RBI single to left.
But the lead didn't last long. In the home half of the seventh, Mua hit a leadoff double, advanced to third on a groundout and erased the Bulldogs lead on Stephen Wells' RBI single to right. One inning later, Olson struck out the first two batters but a triple by Brock Whitney followed by back-to-back singles by Mua and Adam Law put the Cougars ahead of the Bulldogs 6-4.
The Bulldogs and Cougars return for the middle game of the WCC series Friday at 5 p.m. PDT.