After a full day of baseball on Saturday, Gonzaga (14-14, 7-5 West Coast Conference) needed less than two hours to take care of Pacific (16-16, 4-8 WCC) 3-0 and secure the series victory.
Rain washed away Friday’s game forcing the Bulldogs and Tigers to do double duty on Saturday. The WCC foes split the double-header as GU grabbed the first game 9-7 behind six extra base hits including a first inning three-run home run from third baseman Brett Harris. In the nightcap, the bats fell silent as two Pacific pitchers allowed just four hits and the Zags were shutout 6-0.
Sunday afternoon, GU’s pitching got the best of Pacific as starter Mac Lardner stifled a Tiger lineup averaging more than five runs per game and GU’s offense capitalized on well-timed extra base hits to topple Pacific.
“I just tried to come out and set the tone early,” Lardner said. “Jump ahead in the count every at bat and get my team into the dugout so that they could hit.”
In the second inning, redshirt senior Nick Nyquist put the Zags in the run column with a line drive double into the left field gap scoring Mason Marenco from second base.
Nyquist manufactured another run for GU in the inning with his legs. The first baseman swiped third base before scoring on a sacrifice fly from designated hitter Jack Machtolf giving the Bulldogs an early 2-0 advantage.
“It allows me to do a lot more, I can be around the strike zone more,” Lardner said of the early run support from his offense. “I don’t have to worry about not giving up runs, because I know the bats are going to come and I can do my job and trust them.”
While strikeouts weren’t the dish of the day early, Lardner, GU’s regular Sunday starter, had little trouble with the Tiger’s lineup through six innings. The junior neutralized Pacific rallies and worked around base runners with groundballs straight to his infielders and high fly balls that made for easy plays behind him.
“I trust [the defense] totally,” Lardner said. “It makes my job a lot easier when I can get ground balls and know I am going to get outs.”
Center fielder Guthrie Morrison led off the bottom half of the sixth inning with his second double of the day, a knock down the left field line. A sacrifice fly from right fielder Tyler Johnston and another from catcher Austin Pinorini brought Morrison around to score, adding to GU’s now three-run lead.
“Coaches talked to us about sticking to our approach,” Morrison said. “We were just kind of getting outside of ourselves a little bit, so just got back to our game and it worked out for us.”
Even as three pitchers warmed up in the GU bullpen during the sixth and seventh innings, Lardner trotted back to the mound for another inning of work, retiring the Tigers in order and racking up his second and third strikeouts of the afternoon.
The starter's day would end after throwing seven innings of four-hit, shutout baseball.
With a 3-0 lead, GU turned to its closer, sophomore Alek Jacob, to retire Pacific’s final six batters.
The right-hander allowed one infield hit, but ultimately slammed the door on the Tigers grabbing his seventh save on the season and securing Lardner his second win.
Next: The Zags are headed on the road next weekend for more conference play against the Portland Pilots (19-13, 2-9 WCC) in Portland.