Following a crushing defeat Friday, the Gonzaga baseball team looked to get back on track against California State University Northridge in a doubleheader on Saturday.
The two teams kicked off the four-game weekend series on Friday, when the Matadors (10-4) edged the Bulldogs (4-10) by a score of 4-3 in 10 innings.
But it was the Bulldogs that pulled off their own late game heroics to start the day.
Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, redshirt junior Brett Harris tied up the game up with a double down the left field line, bringing in fellow redshirt junior Ernie Yake from first base. A few batters later, Harris was advanced to third base off of a sacrifice bunt from redshirt freshman Stephen Lund.
With Harris in scoring position, it was redshirt junior Jack Machtolf who completed the comeback with a walk-off single RBI, resulting in a 4-3 victory.
“[Machtolf] already hit a bomb earlier in the game, so he’s been the hero lately,” starting pitcher Alek Jacob said.
GU’s offense got to work right out of the gate to start the day. A sacrifice fly ball from junior Ryan Sullivan kicked off the scoring, followed by a single hit to left field by Stephen Lund gave the Zags a 2-0 lead after the first inning.
But it didn’t take long for the Matadors to respond. A two-run homer from Jose Ruiz tied the game before Jason Ajamian tallied an RBI single to center field, putting the Matadors up 3-2.
Going forward, right-hander Jacob shut down any signs of offense from the Matadors. In the five innings he pitched, the junior from Spokane would give up a total of five hits, three of which came in the second inning, while tallying six strikeouts for GU. With the offense struggling, Jacob’s pitching kept the game close throughout.
In the third inning, it appeared the Zags would regain the lead with Harris and Sullivan in scoring position. With one out and a chance for his second RBI, Lund hit a groundball that resulted in Harris being thrown out trying to advance home. The score would remain 3-2 after Machtolf flew out to third base.
The Zags left 10 runners on base for the game.
Following Jacob’s performance on the mound, it was redshirt junior Alex Gomez who was brought in for relief in the sixth inning. Gomez would retire the first three batters he faced, continuing to stifle the Matadors and holding them scoreless while allowing one hit in his four innings pitched.
Machtolf’s walk-off hit in the ninth was his only hit in his five at-bats, and GU’s 13th hit as a team. Yake finished 3-for-5 with two runs, including the game’s winning run. Freshman Anthony Garrett rounded out the starting lineup by going 2-for-4.
“I’ve just been hitting balls hard,” Yake said.
After about 30 minutes and a uniform change, the Bulldogs took to the field again looking for back-to-back wins against the Matadors. However, sloppy mistakes would get in the way of great pitching and hitting, as the Matadors would take the third game of the series by a score of 4-3.
Senior pitcher Nick Trogrlic-Iverson received his first start of the season as he trotted to the mound for GU to open the day’s second game. The right-handed pitcher retired the first 10 batters he faced and allowed three hits in eight innings pitched.
Trogrlic-Iverson's hot start on the mound was complemented by a home run by Lund in the bottom of the second inning as the Zags struck first.
CSUN got its first hit off of Trogrlic-Iverson after Denzel Clark drilled a triple down the right field line. A groundout by Jayson Newman to Garrett at second base would end the inning and keep the Matadors off the scoreboard for the time being.
A fielding error in from the Bulldogs in the top of the fifth inning tied the game up at 1-1. A missed groundball allowed the Matadors’ Ruiz to score from first base.
GU would regain the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning courtesy of a solo home run from Yake that traveled just over the right field wall. That would end the day for CSUN’s Gavin Lizik on the mound, as senior Jackson Cunningham would step in to finish the game.
The Bulldogs would continue to commit mistakes late into the game. In the top of the eighth inning, a mishandled groundball allowed Robert Bullard to reach first base. This led the way for a two-run home run from Clarke the next at-bat, giving CSUN a 3-2 lead.
Later in the inning, junior Tyler Rando would respond with an RBI single into left field, bringing in pinch runner Alex Brenner from third base. With the game tied at 3-3, GU had a chance to further momentum with runners on first and third base with one out. But after a strikeout from Sullivan and a groundout from Lund, the inning would end.
After the Zags’ third error of the game, CSUN was set up with two runners on base with one out in the top of the ninth. A single from Sean Skelly would bring in the runner from second base in to score, giving the Matadors a 4-3 lead. Relief pitcher Gabriel Hughes and the Zags escaped the inning with a double play while the bases were loaded.
But there would be no late game magic this time around, as the Zags split the doubleheader.
GU will wrap up its series against CSUN on Sunday at noon at Patterson Baseball Complex.