The Gonzaga Bulldogs (18-11, 8-2 West Coast Conference) kicked off a weekend series against WCC foe Saint Mary’s (14-13, 4-6 WCC) on Friday night, falling to the Gaels by a score of 10-6 at Patterson Baseball Complex and Coach Steve Hertz Field. A seven run outburst in the 9th inning was too much for the Zags to handle as they dropped game one of the series.
The comeback began following a close call at the plate granted in favor of the Gaels’, as Javy Espinoza just beat out a throw to home plate, giving Saint Mary’s the lead. GU’s defense continued to crumble; back-to-back doubles expanded the margin to 10-6 in the blink of an eye. SMC senior Jacob Talamante knocked one deep into left field that drove in two runs, paving the way for Justin Banks to drive a shot to center on the next at-bat.
“Really tough loss tonight,” Head Coach Mark Machtolf said. “Only option now is to bounce back and have a quick memory.”
Pitching woes from Saint Mary’s provided the Bulldogs with early scoring opportunities. Starter Carlos Lomeli hit four GU batters through three innings, including two in the third frame. With the bases now loaded and only one out, senior Andrew Norzel smacked a double down the third base line, allowing for Harris and Guthrie Morrison to score.
The offense continued to roll with a single from redshirt freshman Stephen Lund, driving in two more runs for the Zags. A four run spurt swelled the lead to 5-0 heading into the top of the 4th inning.
Making his fifth start of the season, right hander Alek Jacob helped GU maintain initial control on the mound. The Spokane native kept the Gaels’ offense in check, striking out four of the first 10 batters he faced. He would finish with six strikeouts and as many hits allowed while giving up three earned runs in six innings of action.
Saint Mary’s managed to put the bat on the ball in the top of the fourth inning after a quiet start. A sacrifice groundout by Nick Mistone put the Gaels on the scoreboard, followed by a single from Christopher Campos that brought in Jacob Malante. A quick two-run outing cut the Zags’ lead to 5-2.
A pitching change for the Gaels could not slow the rhythm of GU’s offense. Right hander Ryan Taurek took to the hill following Lomeli’s three inning stint, yet the Bulldogs were not phased. A sacrifice fly out from Grayson brought Norzel in from third base, however the inning would close in a double play with Lund caught off the second base bag.
The Gaels would respond in the next frame with a run of their own, making it a 6-3 ballgame heading into the bottom of the 6th inning.
With Jacob stepping off the mound however, the tides began to turn. Michael Spellacy and Trystan Vrieling combined to give up seven runs and four hits in the last three innings of action, which proved to be the deciding factor despite the strong start from the Zags.
Game two of the three-game series will take place Saturday at 6 pm at Patterson Baseball Complex and Coach Steve Hertz Field. GU is expected to start Gabriel Hughes (2-3, 4.20 ERA, 40.2 IP, 44K) against Saint Mary’s right hander Sam Bower (4-2, 1.96 ERA, 46.0 IP, 31K).