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Zags Win Opening Game Of WCC Championship

May 25, 2007

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The Gonzaga University baseball team battled through an early deficit to post a 6-4 victory over No. 5 University of San Diego Friday in the first game of the West Coast Conference Championship at Cunningham Stadium in San Diego. The winner of the best-of-three game series will earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

With the win, the Bulldogs improve to 33-23, while the top-seeded Toreros drop to 41-16 overall.

WCC Pitcher of the Year Clayton Mortensen (9-2) earned his ninth win of the season throwing a complete-game allowing four runs on seven hits while striking out six. His six strikeouts moves Mortensen in sole possession of fourth on the Gonzaga single-season strikeout list with 121. San Diego starter Brian Matusz (10-3) suffered the loss allowing five runs on seven hits over 4.1 innings on the mound.

San Diego jumped out to an early lead in the first inning, posting one run without a hit in the frame. Leadoff batter Justin Snyder reached base on a Bulldog fielding error, placing him at second. Snyder advanced to third on a groundout before scoring on a sacrifice fly by Shane Buschini to give the Toreros a 1-0 edge.

The Toreros added three runs to their lead in the bottom of the second. Kevin Hansen drove home one of the two inning runs on a double to left field to score Josh Romansk, who led off the frame with a single through the right side. Mike Metzger then hit a two-run double to left that scored Logan Gelbrich, who reached on a walk, and Hansen.

Gonzaga began to chip away at USD's lead in the third inning. Following a fielder's choice, a double by Darin Holcomb and a walk to load the bases with one out, Shawn Wayt singled to right to score Bryan Winston. Aaron McGuinness then hit into a fielder's choice that scored Holcomb to narrow the Toreros' lead to 4-2.

The Zags continued to narrow in on San Diego in the top of the fourth, scoring one run on a double to left by Holcomb that scored Winston, who reached on a walk.

The Bulldogs continued to chip away at the lead in the fifth, scoring two runs to take a 5-2 advantage. Wayt led of the inning being hit-by-a-pitch before advancing to second on a walk to McGuinness. Following a double steal, a throwing error brought Wayt home to knot the score 4-4. McGuinness then scored the go-ahead and eventual winning run thanks to a triple to right field by Brandon Blank.

Gonzaga extended its lead with a run the seventh thanks to a two-out triple by Evan Wells that scored Mike Terry, who reached base on a double to left center.

Holcomb led the Zags on the day going 4-for-5 with three doubles, a run scored and one run batted in. The junior third baseman moved into sixth place on GU's single-season hit list with 85 on the season, six hits short of the school record of 91 hits. Three other Bulldogs, Wells, Ryan Wiegand and Blank, posted two hits to add to Gonzaga's 13 hit total.

The Zags will look to secure their first bid to the NCAA Regionals since 1981 Saturday when they face San Diego in the second game of the Championship. Brandon Harmon (6-7) is expected to get the start for the Bulldogs when the first pitch is thrown at 2 p.m.