The Gonzaga Bulldogs (12-8, 3-0 West Coast Conference) continued its winning ways against the Washington Huskies (8-10, 0-3 PAC 12) Tuesday afternoon following a 7-2 victory. An offensive explosion in the sixth inning accompanied with strong pitching powered the Zags to their fourth straight win of the season.
GU’s Nico Zeglin proved to be impressive in his first start of the season on the mound. The right-hander struck out five of the first seven batters he faced, as the combination of sliders and fastballs was too much for the Huskies to handle. UW was held hitless until the top of the fourth inning when redshirt freshman Cole Miller singled to left field.
“Zeglin gave us an outstanding start,” Head Coach Mark Machtolf said.
After a slow start on offense, the Zags managed to put the bat on the ball in the bottom of the third inning. Senior Guthrie Morrison kicked off the two out rally with a double down the right field line, driving in sophomore Ernie Yake from second base. Then it was lead-off hitter Brett Harris’ turn to slug one to right field, tacking on another run for the Bulldogs. GU led 2-0 after three innings of play while UW continued to struggle offensively.
Outside of the third inning scoring spurt, the game was decided on the duel between starting pitchers. UW’s Nate Weeldreyer enjoyed a similar hot start on the mound to Zeglin, retiring multiple batters with precise ball placement in pitches. Despite two strikeouts through five innings, the redshirt freshman’s pitch placement forced the Bulldogs into 10 combined flyouts and groundouts.
Weeldreyer would finish with two strikeouts while allowing six hits in his five innings of action.
GU had a chance to extend its advantage following another double from Yake in the bottom of the fifth, however the shortstop was caught in a pickle with Morrison at the plate. A strikeout would ensue, ending the inning with no one on base.
Zeglin’s day would end after pitching five innings, allowing two hits and walking three batters. The sophomore also finished with eight strikeouts before being replaced by reliever Michael Spellacy.
With Zeglin out, the Huskies offense began to pose a threat. With two out and runners on first and second, Miller hit a single into center field, driving in Noah Hsue and advancing Will Simpson. Spellacy would escape the situation and maintain GU’s lead after Karl Kroeper fouled out to Harris to close the inning.
The Zags would lead 2-1 heading into the sixth.
UW would make a pitching change as well with redshirt sophomore David Rhodes subbing in for Weeldreyer, a move the Bulldogs would take advantage of immediately. Batting fourth in the lineup, third baseman Andrew Norzel recorded his second home run of the season with a deep shot to left field. Moments later, with the bases loaded, freshman Tyler Stone would reach first base on a walk, bringing in senior Ryan Sullivan to score from third.
Huskies Head Coach Lindsay Meggs made another change on the mound, bringing in right-hander Gabe Smith in an attempt to slow down GU’s offense. The decision proved to be just as ineffective however, as Yake drove a hit into center field off the first pitch from Smith, tacking on two more runs. The shortstop would finish 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a run.
A total of five hits in the inning extended the Bulldogs lead to 7-1.
“We did a nice job of breaking the game open in the sixth,” Machtolf said.
The late push would ultimately seal the fate of the game, as the Huskies had no answer. GU’s defense shut down any signs of life from UW the rest of the way, led by Spellacy’s four strikeouts in three innings of action. Freshman Brody Jesse would close out the final three outs of the game for the Zags.
“That was one of our most complete games in all three facets,” Machtolf said. “Really happy with our effort tonight.”
GU will resume conference play starting Friday with a road series against Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles.