Zags swept by No. 19 Arizona State
Gonzaga University pitcher Marco Gonzales hit a RBI double to tie the game in the seventh inning, but No. 19 Arizona State University used a two-run double in the ninth to beat the Bulldogs 3-1 and complete the three-game non-conference series sweep Sunday.
Despite suffering the loss, Gonzales (6-2) went the distance for the third time on the season. He struck out four batters and allowed 10 hits and three walks. The Bulldogs (29-20) were held to four base hits on the afternoon. Steven Halcomb had two while Gonzales and Clayton Eslick had one.
Both teams were scoreless until the sixth inning when the Sun Devils (32-17) used a one-out double to right center, a walk and a single to load the bases and a sacrifice fly to centerfield brought home the first run in the game.
ASU starter Alex Blackford surrendered one of Halcomb’s two hits in the opening frame. In addition to fanning five, Blackford went on to hold the Bulldogs hitless for 4 1/3 innings before handing the ball to Joseph Lopez.
Lopez continued to hold the Bulldogs hitless until the seventh inning. Billy Moon led off the frame with a walk and advanced to second on Alex Bonczyk’s sacrifice bunt. Matthew Dunbar relieved Lopez and awarded Mitchell Gunsolus a free pass to first base in his brief appearance. Robert Ravago took over and although he was able to force out Gunsolus on pinch hitter Brock Slavin’s grounder to second baseman Joe DeMichele, he couldn’t hold on to the lead as Gonzales hit a bouncer over first baseman Abe Ruiz and into the outfield for an RBI double. Slavin tried to score the go-ahead run from first base during the play but the relay to home plate was in time for the third out.
After Gonzales retired the eighth inning in order for the first time since the opening frame, the Bulldogs had another opportunity to bring in the go-ahead run. Halcomb led off with a single up the middle but was forced out at second when Royce Bolinger’s ground ball up the middle setup ASU shortstop Deven Marrero for a double play. Eslick followed with a base hit through the right side and Andy Hunter drew a walk to move Eslick into scoring position. After ASU closer Jake Barrett (2-4) was called into the game, Moon sent the first pitch he saw to right center where right fielder Trever Allen sprinted toward the warning track to make the catch and end the threat.
ASU left fielder James McDonald opened the ninth inning with a base hit over the third baseman Gunsolus and advanced to second on catcher Max Rossiter’s sacrifice bunt. After Gonzales intentionally walked third baseman Michael Benjamin, designated hitter Nathaniel Causey hit a fly ball toward the left field line, Moon made a great diving effort on the play but couldn’t make the catch and the Sun Devils took a 3-1 lead on a two-run double. After Allen singled through the left side to put runners at the corners, Gonzales retired the next two batters to end the innings.
The Bulldogs tried to tie the game again in their half of the ninth, but Barrett retired the side in order to preserve the win for the Sun Devils.
Gonzaga closes out its home schedule in West Coast Conference action against the University of Portland. The three-game series begins Friday at 6 p.m.