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Gonzaga's Season Ends at NCAA Regionals

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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.

Bulldog Bites: 

  • With two more doubles, the Zags broke the program's single-season record of 129, set in 2010. Jones' RBI two-bagger was the record setter, giving Gonzaga 130 on the year. Jones also tied the school record with 27 doubles, putting him even with Tyson Van Winkle. Bohling is second with 23, and three others have double-digit two-baggers. In all, 13 different players doubled for Gonzaga in 2016.
  • Wells also pitched a career high 8.0 innings Sunday, bettering his previous best by two entire innings. Gonzaga's starting pitchers handled the vast majority of the workload in Fort Worth with each one pitching at least 7.0 innings: Brandon Bailey threw 7.0 on June 3 against Arizona State while Eli Morgan tossed 7.2 on June 4. In all, starters threw 22.2 of the Zags' 27.0 innings in the Regional.
  • Brooks went 1-for-2 on the day with a walk and a run scored Sunday. The redshirt sophomore led GU with a .444 batting average and .500 on base percentage at the Fort Worth Regional, capping off a solid second year of play. Bohling, meanwhile, led the squad with four runs scored and five RBIs in Fort Worth, while Brooks, Bohling, and Jones collected four hits apiece.  

Zag Speak:

Head coach Mark Machtolf:

  • Opening statement: "It's a tough way to end it, of course. We gave ourselves a chance late, but we just didn't have the offense. We got the start we needed, but didn't string it together."
  • Summing up the season: "It's a real difficult time, not because of the loss, but cutting your seniors loose; they've given us great leadership. We've bounced back all year. We had a tough schedule ... and they just kept at it. We had some injuries and a case of the flu, but guys just stepped up. I couldn't be more proud of them. It's a great group and we accomplished a lot this year."

RHP Hunter Wells: 

  • On his eight-inning performance: "When I got on the mound, I just wanted to do what I can as a pitcher and throw strikes. I try to go as long as I can. As a pitcher you want a complete game. Every time I came back to the dugout I told my coach I wanted it and he said `you got it.'"

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.