FORT WORTH, Texas--Despite battling back with an eighth inning rally, the Gonzaga University baseball team saw its season end Sunday afternoon with a 6-3 loss to Arizona State at the NCAA Baseball Championships' Fort Worth Regional.
The Zags scored twice in the eighth inning to pull within one, but the Sun Devils countered with two of their own in the top of the ninth to end Gonzaga's rally. Nick Brooks led off the bottom half of the eighth with a single, and Sam Brownreached with a base knock for two runners on with one out. Jeff Bohling then drove in Brooks on a ground ball fielder's choice, and Taylor Jones ripped another double -- his third of the Regional -- to score Brown.
Arizona State got those runs back in the top of the ninth when Sam Hellinger came on in relief of starter Hunter Wells, who kept the Zags in the game with an eight-inning, four-run outing. The Sun Devils saw three hits to lead off the ninth, including a solo home run, and brought in one more score with a sacrifice fly off Wyatt Mills. That put the score at 6-3, the game's final.
Gonzaga took an early lead in the game, scoring in the first inning. Bohling hit a one-out single through the left side to give Gonzaga a base runner, and he moved over to third on a wild pitch and a fly out. Next, center fielder Tyler Frost fought off four foul balls before ripping a double to left field, bringing the West Coast Conference Player of the Year home for a 1-0 Gonzaga lead.
Wells worked efficiently during his first time through the lineup, facing just 10 batters in the first three innings, but ASU got three runs in the fourth on two hits, three walks, two wild pitches, and a throwing error. Two of those three runs were earned. ASU scored once more in the fifth to put the score at 4-1.
After the fifth, Wells worked through the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings without allowing any more runs to score. Despite taking the loss, the junior from Spokane struck out nine batters on the day, a career high.
Head coach Mark Machtolf:
RHP Hunter Wells:
Season Wrap Up:
With the loss, Gonzaga's 2016 season comes to an end. The Zags finish with a record of 36-21, the program's most wins since 2009, and they earned their first ever at-large berth to the NCAA Baseball Championships after claiming a share of the WCC regular season title, the third in Gonzaga history. They also ended the regular season with 23 road wins, tied for second-most in the country.
Four seniors saw their final collegiate game Sunday: Jones, Dustin Breshears, Joey Harris, and Jimmy Sinatro.