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Gonzaga Rolls Past Arizona State 5-1 in NCAA Opener

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SAN BRUNO, Calif. – Two West Coast Conference programs opened NCAA Regional play. No. 3 Gonzaga posted a 5-1 win against No. 2 Arizona State in the Fort Worth Regional, while WCC Tournament Champion Saint Mary’s fell to Coastal Carolina 5-2 in the first postseason berth in program history in the Raleigh Regional. 

Gonzaga (36-19) will take on the TCU/Oral Roberts winner Saturday at 4:30 p.m. PDT, while the Gaels (33-24) will take on the NC State/Navy loser Saturday at 11:00 a.m. PDT. Both games will be carried live on ESPN3 and WatchESPN. 

GONZAGA 5, ARIZONA STATE 1 (Fort Worth Regional)
FORT WORTH, Texas—The Gonzaga University baseball team jumped out to an early lead and rode Brandon Bailey’s right arm to a 5-1 win over Arizona State on Friday afternoon to open the NCAA’s Fort Worth Regional.

The Zags scored all five runs in the first three innings and starting pitcher Brandon Bailey kept the Sun Devil offense at bay. Bailey threw 7.0 innings, giving up just one earned run on five hits, while striking out five and walking just one. Sam Hellinger finished off the final 2.0 innings without allowing a run and giving up just one hit.

Taylor Jones, Jeff Bohling and Nick Brooksnotched two hits apiece on the day with Jones picking up a pair of runs batted in and Bohling and Brooks plating one run each.

The designated visiting team, Gonzaga wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard. Bohling gave the Zags a one-out base runner in the first with an infield single, and he scored when Jones doubled off the wall in left center. Two batters later, Jones scored on a ground ball from Justin Jacobs for a two-run GU advantage.

After Bailey retired the side in order in the bottom of the frame, the Zags added on a pair of runs in the second, doing so on four straight singles. Bohling and Jones posted the key hits with both bringing in a run, Bohling plating Jace VanDeBrake and Jones scoring Sam Brown.

Gonzaga’s fifth run came in the third when Brooks hit a double to left center, allowing shortstop Dustin Breshears to come home. Breshears drew a one-out walk for the Zags’ first base runner in the frame.

Regional Update:
With the win, the Zags (36-19) advanced into the winner’s bracket and will face the winner of tonight’s TCU/Oral Roberts matchup. That winner’s bracket matchup will take place at 4:30 p.m. Pacific (6:30 p.m. Central). Arizona State drops into the loser’s bracket, and will face the loser of Friday night’s game on Saturday, June 4, at 9:00 a.m. Pacific (11:00 a.m. Central). 

COASTAL CAROLINA 5, SAINT MARY’S 2 (Raleigh Regional)
RALEIGH, N.C. — Playing in its first-ever NCAA Tournament game Friday, the Saint Mary’s baseball team took an early lead but it was the little things that allowed Coastal Carolina to come from behind and stay there, as the No. 2-seeded Chanticleers defeated the No. 3 seed Gaels, 5-2, at Doak Field at Dail Park.

Saint Mary’s will face the loser of Friday’s second game between host and No. 1 seed NC State and No. 4 Navy at 11 a.m. PDT/2 p.m. EDT Saturday. The game will be streamed live on WatchESPN/ESPN3.

“I thought it was a good baseball game,” said Saint Mary’s head coach Eric Valenzuela. “Coastal’s very good, very offensive. Give the credit to those guys, they just beat us. Thought our guys competed, thought they battled, but we just fell a little short.”

Senior Anthony Gonsolin put a charge into the Gaels (33-24) in the first inning of the program’s first-ever NCAA Regionals appearance. He hit a two-out solo home run – his seventh of the season – over the high left-field wall on the second pitch he saw, giving Saint Mary’s an early 1-0 lead.

But Coastal Carolina (45-15) came back with five runs, all scored in part by a hit-by-pitch, walk, sacrifice bunt and two wild pitches. Chanticleers starter Andrew Beckwith (11-1) settled down after allowing the Gonsolin homer. He faced just one over the minimum from the second to fifth innings and only allowed one more run in the sixth.

SMC starter Corbin Burnes (9-2) rolled with the early advantage, facing the minimum in the first two innings with three strikeouts and a double play. But Burnes ran into trouble in the bottom of the third when he gave the Chanticleers three straight free passes (one hit-by-pitch, two walks) to load the bases with one out. He hit No. 8 batter Seth Lancaster and walked No. 9 batter Matt Beaird before walking CCU leadoff hitter Anthony Marks to load them.

Burnes nearly escaped the jam, first getting Michael Paez to pop out to first base, then working a full count to Connor Owings. But on the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Owings singled to right-center field, scoring two runs and giving Coastal Carolina a 2-1 lead. CCU would safety squeeze a run home in the bottom of the fourth, then tack on two insurance runs in the fifth on back-to-back wild pitches by Burnes, giving them a 5-1 lead at the time.

Saint Mary’s got two multi-hit performances Friday from its lineup. Gonsolin went 2 for 4 with a home run and RBI. Nate Nolan also went 2 for 4 with an RBI single in the sixth that made it 5-2. It was Nolan’s 17th multi-hit game of the year and Gonsolin’s 16th, giving SMC 139 as a team.

Burnes finished with eight strikeouts in the game, giving him 120 on the year. That mark is No. 3 all-time in a single season at Saint Mary’s and just one short of the No. 2 mark of 121 set by Jeff Peterson in 1981. His nine wins in 2016 are tied for seventh in a single season. He also finished with a 2.48 ERA.

“It means everything,” said Valenzuela about the Gaels playing in their first-ever NCAA Tournament game. “Our history and tradition as far as baseball goes back 100 years, and to be the first team to get an opportunity to be in a place like this and play in this regional, it’s a lot of fun for our guys. Obviously we wanted to come out and get a win in this first game.