The No. 21 Gonzaga Bulldogs (27-13, 14-4 West Coast Conference) defeated the Washington State Cougars (19-16, 7-11 PAC-12) by a score of 7-5 Tuesday night at Patterson Baseball Complex and Coach Steve Hertz Field. GU’s Alec Gomez was credited with his fifth win of the year while the offense saw production from the top to the bottom of the lineup.
“Great win tonight, always good to win versus regional rivals.” GU Head Coach Mark Machtolf said.
The Zags wasted no time in getting on the board, jumping out to a 4-0 lead after the first inning. The top of the lineup gave Cougars’ starting pitcher Tyler Hoeft problems, kicked off by a single from Ernie Yake to start the game. With the bases loaded, clean-up hitter Tyler Rando drove in Yake after singling to center field. The next at-bat saw Andrew Norzel sacrifice a fly-out to centerfield, allowing Guthrie Morrison to tack on another run. The avalanche was capped off with a double down the third base line, bringing home Rando and Brett Harris.
After Hoeft was pulled, however, GU’s offense came to a halt. Cycling through its rotation, WSU utilized three different pitchers in six innings to keep the Bulldogs on edge. Right-hander Connor Barrison came in for a short stint, allowing just one hit in the first eight batters he faced, before being replaced by senior Brody Barnum. The 6th inning alone saw three different pitchers take the mound for WSU.
By night's end, a total of nine pitchers rotated in for the Cougars, with Barrison and Barnum proving to be the most effective. The duo held GU to two hits and no runs in just over three innings of combined play.
Outside of those two opposing pitchers, GU recorded nine hits paced by Mason Marceno’s three hits in four at-bats. Harris and Yake also had a pair of hits each scored a run.
On the opposite hill, Gomez was tasked with slowing down one of the PAC-12’s most potent offenses. Led by junior Kyle Manzarado, the Cougars lineup featured four players hitting above a .300 batting average heading into Tuesday night. Manzarado, who ranks in the top five for both slugging and RBIs in the PAC-12, drove in the team’s first run with a double to center field, making it a 4-1 ballgame.
Jack Smith cut GU’s lead once again in the 6th inning after doubling to right field and scoring Collin Montez from first base.
Despite the formidable matchup, Gomez limited WSU standouts to little success. After escaping a situation in the 4th inning, the junior calmly retired the Cougars’ top three batters in the following frame. In six innings, he finished with five strikeouts while allowing six hits and two earned runs.
GU’s lead grew to 7-2 as the drought would finally come to an end in the bottom of the 6th inning. Grayson Sterling loaded the bases with one out after being hit by a pitch from Newstrom, as the top of the Zags lineup was due up. Yake brought in Marceno from third base on a sacrifice fly, giving GU its first run since the first inning. Two batters later, Harris popped a hit just short of the WSU left fielder, driving in two more runs. GU tallied four hits and three runs in the frame alone, nearly replicating its first inning performance.
Making his seventh appearance of the year, Jacob Rutherford stepped to the mound to relieve Gomez. The freshman escaped a near costly 7th inning filled with fielding mishaps from his defense. Jack Machtolf couldn't track down a pop up to left field that would have been the first out of the frame. Later, the Cougars got on the board again due to a ground ball that snuck by Marenco, shrinking GU’s lead to 7-3.
A two-run RBI from Manzardo in the top of the 9th cut the lead to just two runs for the Zags. Freshman Brody Jessee managed to close out the Cougars, however with two consecutive outs following Manzardo’s hit.
The Bulldogs return to action Friday, April 30th, to kick off a crucial three-game series against the San Diego Toreros, who currently sit in second place in the WCC standings.