The Gonzaga men’s baseball team fell to the No. 14 ranked Oregon Ducks in the second game of the Regional round of the 2021 NCAA baseball tournament.

Coming off a 3-0 victory against LSU Friday night, headlined by a complete game shutout from GU ace Alek Jacob, the Zags looked to beat the Ducks in their second matchup this season. The Ducks beat the Bulldogs 10-3 in Eugene back in May.

The Zags got off to a rough first inning to start the game. Errors from Brett Harris and Ernie Yake led to a 4-0 first-inning lead for the Ducks, resulting in a near 40 pitch inning from starter William Kempner. Oregon leadoff man Tanner Smith started the game with a 10 pitch at bat ending with a double. When it was the Zags’ time to bat, they left two runners in scoring position after a walk from Harris and a double from catcher Tyler Rando.

GU head coach Mark Machtolf pulled Kempner in the top of the second. Kempner finished the night with 45 pitches, giving up three hits, four unearned runs, a strikeout and a walk. Reliever Trystan Vrieling came into the game to replace Kempner.

The Zags were able to gain a bit more traction in the bottom of the third inning. Designated hitter Ryan Sullivan led the inning off with a base hit, followed by a double from Yake and Harris getting hit by a pitch. Rando drove one run in with a sac fly and first baseman Andrew Orzel drove in two runs to make it a 4-3 game heading into the 5th inning.

The 5th inning would be the Ducks’ inning. After a run scored by the Ducks, first baseman Gabe Matthews hit a two run home run off Vrieling, extending the team’s lead to 7-3. Matthews went 2-for-3 with a homerun and three RBIs Saturday night against the Zags.

The rest of the game would remain scoreless, giving the Ducks the 7-3 victory and advancing to the regional final unscathed in the loss column.

Oregon ace Robert Ahlstrom was dealing on the mound for the Ducks. The left hander threw eight strong innings, giving up six hits and punching out seven Zags and giving up three earned runs.

The Zags finished the night with three runs on seven hits and three errors, leaving six runners stranded on the basepaths. The Ducks, on the other hand, ended the night with seven runs on 10 hits with one error, also leaving six runners on base. The Ducks took advantage of those runners on base in clutch situations, scoring five RBIs with two outs in the game. The Zags batted .226 on the night, compared to the .278 batting average of the Ducks.

The Zags will have a rematch against LSU on Sunday at 3 p.m. If they beat the Tigers again, they will play another game at 7 p.m. in another rematch against the Ducks.

“We’re going to have to score some runs,” GU head coach Jack Machtolf said. “Someone is going to have to step up on the mound and give us extended innings.” 

Vincent Saglimbeni is the managing editor. Follow him on Twitter: @vinnysaglimbeni.

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