May 29, 2009
Fullerton Regional Game Three:
FULLERTON, Calif. - No. 19 Gonzaga University saw its record-setting season come to an end Sunday, dropping a 9-7 decision to the University of Utah to be eliminated from the Fullerton Regional of the 2009 NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs finished the season with an overall record of 36-18, after claiming the programs inaugural West Coast Conference regular and Championship Series titles. The Zags posted a 1-2 record playing in their first NCAA Tournament since 1981, recording the school's first NCAA Tournament win since 1980.
Evan Wells led the Bulldogs with a 3-for-4 performance, recording a single, double and triple while Tyson Van Winkle recorded two hits and two RBI. The Utes (28-30) posted runs in five consecutive innings to overcome a 3-2 second inning deficit as Utah starting pitcher Bryn Card kept the powerful Bulldog offense off balance throughout the afternoon.
"Give credit to Utah, they played well and were able to bring runs across when it mattered the most," said head coach Mark Machtolf. "We battled hard after last night's tough loss but just came up a hit or two short today."
The Utes struck first as they pushed two runs across in the third inning off of Gonzaga starting pitcher Ryan Carpenter. A one-out walk was followed by a base-hit to left field and Nick Kuroczko brought home the game's first run with a ground out second base. Utah was able to add another run in the inning as C.J. Cron's weakly hit ground ball was able to squeak through the right side of the infield to bring home the inning's second run.
The Bulldog bats got going in their half of the third, using four hits to bring three runs across in the inning. Jason Chatwood led off the inning with a line drive base-hit to right field and one batter later Wells slapped an opposite field double down the left field line to put runners on second and third. Drew Heid continued his impressive offensive performance in the NCAA Tournament, taking a pitch to left field for an RBI single to bring the Zags first run across. Van Winkle then added to his school season-single record for doubles, pulling his 27th double of the season into the left field corner to score Wells and Heid for a 3-2 GU lead.
Utah was able to regain the lead off of Carpenter in fourth, scoring two runs off of a RBI double and a two-out base hit to go ahead 4-3. The Bulldogs bounced right back again with a run in the fourth. Mark Castellitto earned a lead-off walk and was then bunted up to second by Grant Kveder. Chatwood then reached on a throwing error by the Utah third baseman. Ernesto Ortiz then kept the inning alive by beating out the throw on a double play turn from the Utah second baseman at first to keep two runners on for Wells. The Zags lead-off hitter fought off a couple tough pitches from Card before blooping an RBI single over the third baseman to score Castellitto and tie the game at 4-4.
The Utes again answered a Gonzaga rally with a run, taking a 5-4 lead with on a RBI double by Cron to right center off of GU reliever AJ Proszek. Proszek had come on in relief of Carpenter who finished with seven strikeouts in 4.1 innings.
In the sixth inning, Utah put up runs in the fourth straight inning, scoring three to build an 8-4 advantage. The big blow came on a two-out two run triple off the wall by Kuroczko.
The Zags missed out on an opportunity to bring some runs across in the sixth inning. Castellitto and Kveder each singled to lead off the inning but Card was able to get Chatwood and Ortiz to swing through pitches to record strikeouts. Wells was then hit by a pitch to load the bases but after fouling off a couple pitches, Heid grounded out to shortstop and just barely missed beating the throw at first as Utah escaped the inning without allowing any runs to score.
After Utah scored a run in the seventh, the Zags answered with a run of their own as Synegal lined a single to right field to score Van Winkle and make it 9-5 Utah after seven complete.
The Bulldogs began to chip away with two runs in the eighth inning to cut the lead to 9-7. Chatwood led off the inning with an infield single. One batter later Wells pulled a ball down the first base line that landed just inside the foul line and went all the way down into the right field corner, allowing Chatwood to score and Wells racing around to third. Heid then drove a ball to right field, deep enough for Wells to tag up and score from third to make it a two-run ball game.
Gonzaga reliever Cody Martin got around a lead-off single in the ninth with a ground out and two strike outs. The Zags made one final push in the ninth as Synegal earned a one-out walk and Kveder blooped a two-out single down the left field line bring the potential game-winning run to the plate in Chatwood. The senior third baseman fouled off two pitches before pulling a ground ball to the Utah third baseman who fielded and threw on to first to seal up the Utah 9-7 victory and end the Bulldogs season.
Carpenter suffered the loss as Utah received eight hits and five runs from its top two hitters of the lineup to advance to face Cal State Fullerton in the NCAA Regional Championship game.
"This was a special group of players that that took this program to another level this season," said Machtolf. "They pushed this program over the top both on and off the field. They took us to the NCAA Regional for the first time since 1981 and put together one of the best seasons ever at Gonzaga."
Fullerton Regional Game Two:
FULLERTON, Calif. - No. 19 Gonzaga University dropped 7-4 decision to No. 2 national seeded Cal State Fullerton in the winner's bracket matchup of the Fullerton Regional in the NCAA Tournament in front of 2,255 fans Saturday night.
The Bulldogs (36-17) were unable to get the big hit throughout the game, stranding eight runners as CSF (44-14) overcame an early 2-0 deficit with three runs in the second and single runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to pick up the victory. The loss sends the Zags to a 2 p.m. matchup against the University of Utah Sunday with the winner having to turn around and play top seeded Fullerton 6 p.m. Sunday and 6 p.m. Monday if-necessary.
"Give credit to Fullerton, they were able to get some swings in crucial situations," said head coach Mark Machtolf. "We left way too many runners on base against a good team and that was the difference tonight."
Anthony Synegal and Tyson Van Winkle provided the pop for the Zags as Synegal launched his eighth homer of the season and Van Winkle picked up two RBI on his first inning double. Drew Heid paced the Bulldogs with a three-hit effort.
The Bulldogs were the first to strike in matchup between the two teams that each scored 18-plus runs in Friday's opening day wins, taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run double by Van Winkle. Evan Wells and Heid led off the game with back-to-back singles before Van Winkle pulled a pitch down the left field line for his school record-setting 26th double of the season, breaking Jim Carnell's previous top mark of 25 set in 1981.
Cal State Fullerton answered back in the second inning, scoring three runs off of GU starting pitcher Steven Ames to take a 3-2 lead. The Titans led off the inning with a home run and then picked up two more runs on an RBI triple and RBI single that bounced over the Zags left side of the infield to give CSF the one-run lead.
Gonzaga missed out on an opportunity to even the game and perhaps take the lead as Wells and Heid once again off the inning with singles but CSF starting pitcher Daniel Renken got Van Winkle and Ryan Wiegand to fly out to left field and Synegal to pop out to keep the game at 3-2.
The Titans picked up a run in the fourth on a hard chopped ground ball base-hit back up the middle by Joey Siddons to score Dustin Garneau to make it a 4-2 CSF lead.
In the Zags half of the fourth, Mark Castellitto and Grant Kveder got things going as each lined singles into right centerfield to start the inning. Ortiz then earned a one-out walk to load the bases for the top of the Bulldogs lineup. Renken, the ace of the Titan staff buckled down though, making some good pitches to get Wells and Heid to pop out and end the inning with no runs coming across.
The Gonzaga bats got a boost in the fifth inning as Wiegand reached on a fielding error by the CSF second baseman to put a runner on for Synegal. The Zags senior designated hitter came to the plate and jumped on a 2-1 pitch, driving a two-run homer over the fence in straight away centerfield to tie the game at 4-4. Renken then issued a walk to Kveder and hit Chatwood to put two runners on with two outs in the inning. After a passed ball moved both runners up a base, the Titans got out of the inning as Ortiz was called out on an inside pitch to strand the runners on second and third.
CSF used a couple of bad breaks for the Zags to take a 5-4 lead in the sixth as Garneau received a gift double on a broken bat fly ball that was lost in the lights by Heid in centerfield. One batter later the Titans benefitted again from a slight miscue by Bulldogs as Joe Scott lined a base-it to centerfield that Heid fielded on one bounce and fired a perfect strike to Van Winkle at the plate who received the throw and then dove to his left to tag out the CSF runner. The tag was made in time but after he made the tag, the ball popped out of Van Winkles glove to allow the run to count.
Fullerton was able to pick up a couple insurance runs with single runs in the eighth and ninth to build a 7-4 lead. Garneau singled home a run in the seventh before a Gary Brown infield single that bounced high of the hard surface allowed a Titan run to cross in the eighth.
Ames (8-2) suffered the loss after allowing seven earned runs in seven-plus innings of work. The All-WCC honorable selection finished with four strikeouts and left the game have allowing a lead-off single in the eighth inning. Cody Martin fired two impressive innings of relief, striking out five to keep the Zags close.
"Steven did a great job for us tonight," said Machtolf. "He battled tough against a very good Cal State Fullerton team. We need to come out and bring some early energy with the bats against Utah tomorrow."
Fullerton Regional Game One:
FULLERTON, Calif. - No. 19 Gonzaga University pounded out 18 hits to post a 19-10 opening game win over #29 Georgia Southern University in the first game of the Fullerton Regional of the NCAA Tournament Friday afternoon. The 19 runs scored is a season-high for the Zags and the most ever scored by a Gonzaga squad in an NCAA Tournament game, a span of 22 games.
The Bulldogs (36-16) put up runs in all but one inning on the Eagles (42-16), scoring runs in the final seven innings to post its first NCAA Tournament victory since 1980. Tyson Van Winkle and Mark Castellitto paced the GU offense with three hits and three RBI apiece. Ryan Wiegand, Anthony Synegal and Castellitto each hit home runs as every starter recorded a hit and scored a run. Reliever Reedy Berg picked up the game one win after scattering six hits and striking out six in six innings to advance the Zags into Saturday's 6 p.m. winner bracket matchup against either Cal State Fullerton or Utah.
"We did a great job early of getting swings," said head coach Mark Machtolf. "That was one of our best offensive performances of the year. Everybody swung the bat well today, putting up a big number in the first inning was huge for us getting confidence to being able to get swings later in the game."
The Zags, playing in their first NCAA Tournament game since 1981, showed no sign of early nerves scoring seven runs in the top of the first inning. Evan Wells was hit by a pitch to lead off the game then Drew Heid executed a hit-and-run with a line drive single to left field, sending Wells to third and Heid eventually took second base as the throw went in to third base. Van Winkle, GU's leading hitter, then came to the plate and smoked a single to centerfield to score Wells and Heid. Wiegand followed with a line drive single to right field and Synegal was then hit by a pitch to load the bases. After a Castellitto fielder's choice ground out to third base, Grant Kveder chopped a ball up third base line that Georgia Southern starting pitcher Chris Mederos fielded with his bare hand to his right and then fired home to get the force out but the catcher could not secure the catch with Wiegand sliding in on the play. One batter later, Ernesto Ortiz drove a two-strike two-out pitch to right field to bring two runs across to make it 5-0. After Wells was hit by a pitch for the second time in the inning, Heid slapped an opposite field single to left to score Kveder and Ortiz for the final two runs of the inning.
GSU got two runs back in the second inning on an RBI groundout and a passed ball to cut into the Zags lead 7-2. After Wells gave Gonzaga a boost with a one-out RBI triple to centerfield, scoring Ortiz from first for an 8-2 lead, the Eagles bats got hot, slugging four home runs to score six runs in the third inning. Gonzaga starter Matt Fields was the victim of the GSU offense, allowing the Eagles six-run frame to tie the game at 8-8 in the inning before giving away to Berg who got a strikeout to send the nightmare inning for the Bulldogs.
Things got better for the Zags quickly as Synegal gave the Bulldogs the lead right back, with a line drive one-out solo homer to left center in the fourth inning to put GU up a 9-8 lead.
In the bottom of the fourth, Berg had to make some big time pitches to preserve the lead for the Zags. After allowing a lead-off double to Benedict, Berg did not allow him to score, getting a fly out, a strikeout and a inning-ending groundout to Ortiz at shortstop to keep the Gonzaga lead at 9-8.
The Zags picked up a run in the fifth inning, as Chatwood started the inning with a line drive single to right field. He then moved up to second on GSU reliever Andy Moye's failed pickoff attempt over to first. One batter later Wells smoked a short-hop ground ball to the GSU shortstop who's throw to first sailed high into the GU first base dugout to allow Chatwood to advance two bases and score to make it 9-8.
In the sixth inning, the middle part of the Gonzaga order continued to hammer the baseball, as Wiegand led off the inning with a walk and Synegal came to the plate and pulled a ball down the left field line for double. The next batter was Castellitto who jumped on a 1-2 pitch for a three-run homer high over the left field fence to build the GU lead to 13-8.
After Berg retired the Eagles in order in the fifth and sixth innings the Bulldogs followed up their three-run sixth with a three-run seventh inning. Heid was hit by a pitch and Van Winkle followed with a single to put two runners on for Wiegand. Gonzaga's all-time leader in hits, doubles and RBI then hammered a 2-0 pitch off the net beyond the right field fence for a three-run shot to build the Zags lead to 16-8.
Gonzaga put the game out of reach with runs in the final two innings, scoring one in the eighth on Van Winkle's RBI double and two more in the ninth on a Chatwood RBI single and an RBI fielder's choice ground out by Ortiz. Van Winkle's eighth inning double was his 25th of the season, matching Jim Carnell's single season record set in 1981.
Berg remained on the mound to close out the game, retiring seven of the final eight batters he faced including sitting the Eagles down in order in the ninth.
"Reedy was outstanding against a great offensive team for us today," said Machtolf. "He threw very well, kept us in the ball game, gave our guys some confidence and we were able to come out with a great win today. We are very proud of our guys today."