The Gonzaga Bulldogs (15-10, 6-2 West Coast Conference) picked up the series win against Pacific (7-16, 0-8 WCC) with a 6-0 victory on Friday night at Patterson Baseball Complex and Coach Steve Hertz Field. A defensive battle would ultimately be decided by a Tyler Rando grand slam late in the ballgame as the Zags notched their second consecutive shutout in as many days.
“Good to secure a series win,” Head Coach Mark Machtolf said. “Swung the bats good, and did a great job of extending the lead in the 8th.”
A shutout performance on Thursday was followed by another strong defensive outing from the Zags. Starting pitcher Gabriel Hughes shut down any signs of offensive life from the Tigers, retiring 20 of the 23 batters he faced through seven innings on the mound. The sophomore making his seventh start of the season earned his second win with seven strikeouts and allowing three hits, including three frames of not allowing a single walk or hit.
Back-to-back doubles in the 3rd inning gave the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead. A defensive stand from Pacific to start the game was finally broken up as the Zags finally put the bat to the ball following a shot to the warning track from outfielder Grayson Sterling that allowed for Jack Machtolf to score from third base. An infield error from Tigers’ shortstop Wyatt Hoffman brought in Sterling to score with two outs. An outstanding diving catch in the outfield from Pacific’s Luke Price would end the frame, however the Zags had jumped out to an early advantage.
A scoring drought ensued until Rando capitalized on a favorable situation in the bottom of the 8th inning. With bases loaded and no outs, the junior smacked a pitch deep into left-center field and over the wall for a grand slam and his third home run of the season. This all but secured the win for the Zags as the team sat on a comfortable 6-0 lead heading into the final frame.
Rando would finish 2-for-4 on the night including 4 RBIs to go with a run himself. Outfielder Jack Machtolf also contributed, going 3-for-4 and tacking on a run.
For a majority of the ballgame however, Pacific starter Landon Curtis proved to be effective on the mound at slowing GU’s offense. Backed by exceptional fieldwork, the senior halted any sort of potential momentum by forcing the Zags into multiple flyouts and double plays. His first start of the season would ultimately finish with one strikeout in four innings of action, allowing one earned run in the process.
With Hunter Schilperoort on the hill for the Tigers, the Zags still couldn’t find any rhythm. The southpaw senior allowed two hits, walked two batters and struck out two more while giving up no runs in three innings of play.
An opportunity to extend the advantage was ultimately squandered in the bottom of the 6th inning. Rando kicked off the inning by finding a gap in the outfield, followed by Andrew Orzel reaching first base on a walk. However, a bizarre double play at third base resulted in both baserunners being called out, ending the frame and furthering the scoring drought for GU.
After struggling to put batters on base, Pacific managed to pose a threat in the 7th inning once infielder Thomas Gavello reached second base on a double down the right field line. An ensuing strikeout delivered by Hughes and flyout would leave Gavello stranded and halt any further advancement by the Tigers offense.
“We need to have a quick memory and give them our best punch tomorrow,” Machtolf said.
GU will look to sweep the Tigers in game three of the series on Saturday at 1 pm. Right hand pitcher William Kempner (1-1, 23 strikeouts, 2.33 ERA) is expected to start for the Bulldogs against Pacific’s Henrik Reinertsen (1-3, 19 strikeouts, 6.43 ERA).