MORAGA, Calif. - The Gonzaga University baseball team's offense went to work early in the game and a solid performance from the bullpen secured the Bulldogs 7-5 victory over Saint Mary's College in the rubber game of the West Coast Conference series Sunday afternoon.
Royce Bolinger had two hits including a two-run home run in the first inning and a double in the seventh inning. The Bulldogs (29-17, 9-9 WCC) also got a strong performance from Mitchell Gunsolus, who also had a pair of hits along with a run and a RBI.
Bulldog starter Andy Hunter threw three innings and allowed four runs on seven hits and a walk. Derek Callahan (3-1) received the win after allowing one run on three hits in 1 2/3 innings of relief. Kenny Smith went the rest of the way and tossed 4 1/3 shutout innings to earn his first save in his collegiate career.
Steven Halcomb opened the game with a double down the left field line and Bolinger put the Bulldogs on the board with a two-run shot to left center field.
The Gaels (22-23, 6-12 WCC) would get a run across in their opening frame with back-to-back leadoff doubles to right center field to cut Gonzaga's lead to 2-1.
The Bulldogs took advantage of Gaels starter Jordan Mills' (4-4) struggles on the mound as he walked Brock Slavin and hit Alex Bonczyk to start the second inning. After Gunsolus hit a RBI single up the middle and move Bonczyk to third base, Mills was called a balk and it allowed the Bulldogs to score in their fourth run. Maxx Garrett would move Gunsolus to third with a sacrifice bunt and one batter later, Gonzales sent a pitch to center field to bring home the freshman and give Gonzaga a 5-1 lead.
Hunter would surrender another leadoff double in the second inning and a one-out RBI single brought home the Gaels second run on the afternoon. One inning later, Hunter would get into trouble with back-to-back leadoff singles to the outfield and a two-out two-run double down the right field line cut the Bulldogs lead to 5-4. Hunter would end his day with a fly out to center field to end the inning.
Mills would get the Gaels into trouble when he walked Bonczyk and Gunsolus to start the fourth inning. After the Gaels went to the bullpen, Garrett would load the bases reaching on a bunt single off of reliever Patrick Keane. Although Halcomb grounded out to the shortstop, it was enough for Bonczyk to score the Bulldogs sixth run on the afternoon.
Callahan would take over for Hunter in the fourth inning and the Gaels, once again, used a double and a RBI single to cut Gonzaga's lead to 6-5. The Gaels threatened to tie the game in the fifth when another leadoff double followed by a groundout to the second baseman Alex Stanford put a runner at third base with one out. Callahan would strike out the next batter before handing the ball to Smith, who ended the threat with a foul out to the first baseman Gonzales.
The Bulldogs added some breathing room in the seventh inning when Bolinger led off with a double down the left field line and scored on Billy Moon's one-out RBI base hit to center field.
After retiring seven straight heading into the ninth, Smith walked the leadoff batter, but a double play ball followed by a strikeout secured the win for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs will welcome 20th-ranked Arizona State University to the Gonzaga campus on Commencement Weekend. The three-game non-conference series begins Friday at 6 p.m.