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'This is when the fun starts': Gonzaga baseball earns No. 2 seed in NCAA Tournament

Unexpectedly, Gonzaga was placed in the Blacksburg regional hosted by Virginia Tech.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Gonzaga found the path it will have to go through to reach Omaha after earning a No. 2 seed this morning, matching a program best from last season. 

However, the announcement came with a bit of a surprise. 

"We saw that name pop up on the board and it was not what we expected," said freshman third baseman Cade McGee. 

"I think I speak for everyone when I say it was a little bit of a surprise not to be going to Corvallis," said sophomore pitcher Gabriel Hughes.

The overwhelming thought was that Gonzaga would wind up as a two seed playing in the Corvallis regional. The selection committee did indeed give the Bulldogs a two seed, except they won't be playing close to home in Oregon.

They'll be heading out east to the Blacksburg regional hosted by Virginia Tech.

"I don't know the rhyme or reason for shipping us off to Virginia, but, maybe they're rewarding us a little bit because Stanford was a two, Oregon State a three and Virginia Tech four," said head coach Mark Machtolf. "So, maybe they felt like that was happening, but you go where you go and you're going to have to beat good teams."

It was an outcome the Bulldogs were happy with as they see it as a more winnable region. 

A foundation of winning has been set. For the first time since 1980-81, Gonzaga is in the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons.

Now, this team is looking to do what none have been able to before.

"We have much bigger aspirations than just making a regional as a two seed. We think we can win it and we think we can keep going," said Hughes.

"This is not only what we want to be doing at this time of the year, but we want to do well and get to the next step and get over the hump and get to a super regional and get to Omaha," said Machtolf. "That's always been our goal."

When it comes to postseason play, the Bulldogs have what it takes to make a deep run. 

In double-elimination tournaments, you need pitching and Gonzaga has one of the best pitching staffs in the country, which is a big reason why the Bulldogs have only lost a single weekend series all season. 

"I think with our pitching staff we can go anywhere and win. I think we all really believe that," said McGee. "Whoever they stack us up against, I think we're gonna have a really good chance of going to a super regional and beyond that."

The Zags did struggle some in the WCC Tournament, falling to San Diego twice. But, the offense found itself, scoring 38 runs in four games. Now, they're hoping it's all coming together at the right time. 

A time they've been looking forward to for months.

"It all starts now, you know. This is where the road to Omaha really begins," said Hughes. "We've been building up to this and preparing for this all season and this is when it actually starts. This is when the fun starts."

Gonzaga opens up the NCAA Tournament against the No. 3 seed Columbia on Friday. First pitch is set for 10 AM PST. The game is being streamed on ESPN+.

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