SPOKANE - Brock Slavin hit his first three-run home run in the fifth inning and Andy Hunter went the distance for the second time this season as the two helped the Gonzaga University baseball team rally and beat Santa Clara University 4-1 to complete the West Coast Conference series sweep Sunday afternoon.
Slavin, Marco Gonzales and Eric Lane led the effort at the plate with two hits each. The Bulldogs also got a base hit from Steven Halcomb and a RBI from Gonzales.
Hunter (3-2), who had to miss Saturday's game to write an exam, struggled on the mound early in the game. The first batter doubled to right field to start the game and after a sacrifice bunt, the Broncos (18-15, 1-8 WCC) got on board after a groundout to second baseman Alex Stanford brought in the first run of the day.
Although he wouldn't allow a run after the first inning, Hunter would get himself into trouble in the next four innings as he would allow a runner to reach at least third base in each inning. But he would have help from good defensive performances by his teammates to escape the threats.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs (25-9, 6-3 WCC) bats had a hard time breaking through Bronco starting pitcher Mike Couch (1-5). Gonzales would record the Bulldogs first two hits off of Couch in the first and fourth innings.
It wasn't until the fifth inning when the rest of the Bulldogs figured out Couch. With one out, Stanford got on base after he was hit by the pitch and Halcomb followed with a base hit to left center field but was forced out on Billy Moon's grounder to second base. With two strikes in his at-bat, the left-handed hitting Slavin sent a pitch just over the fence in left field for his first homer to give the Bulldogs a 3-1. Slavin received a loud celebration from his teammates in the dugout as he circled around the bases.
"There's not one player in our clubhouse that the coaches or players root for more than Brock," Bulldogs associate head coach Danny Evans said. "Brock is one of the biggest Zags we've ever seen to put on a uniform. If you drive by the Patterson Baseball Complex and Washington Trust Field, that kid is taking hacks. We've wanted him to be in that role and he's worked himself into that role. For him to see come through was an awesome thing to see."
Slavin also took part of adding an insurance run for the Bulldogs. He led off the eighth inning with a base hit to left center field and after he reached third base on Maxx Garrett's sacrifice bunt and Lane's single to the second base, Gonzales sent a pitch to center field deep enough for Slavin to score the Bulldogs fourth run.
After Slavin hit the three-run shot in the fifth inning, Hunter began to settle down and retire the Broncos in order the rest of the way.
"I think it was a little bit more of finding his rhythm," Evans said of Hunter. "He was a little bit out of rhythm today. I don't know if it was because he was gone yesterday. He stepped back in from being a day away from the team and was kind of getting back into a rhythm, and finally later in the game, he really got into a rhythm. He really started getting ahead of batters and starting to pitch his way. He did a really good job bouncing back and pitching well down the stretch."
The Bulldogs will have Monday to rest as Washington State University will make a second visit to the Patterson Baseball Complex and Washington Trust Field Tuesday for a 6 p.m. start. The Bulldogs won the first meeting in Spokane 9-3 back on April 3.