Three-Run Ninth Hands LMU Series over Gonzaga, 4-3
LMU trailed 3-1 headed into the ninth inning before scoring three times to earn a comeback victory to win the series over Gonzaga.
April 29, 2012
SPOKANE, Wash. - The LMU baseball team (21-18, 9-6 WCC) trailed 3-1 headed into the ninth inning on Sunday, but rallied to score three times en route to claiming a comeback victory at 4-3, taking two-of-three games from Gonzaga (27-14, 7-8 WCC) in WCC play. The series victory is the first over Gonzaga since 2006, and the first on the road since 2001.
Facing reliever Zach Abbruzza and down by two in the ninth, LMU got a leadoff walk from Matt Lowenstein to get the inning going. A single from Cullen Mahoney one out later put runners at first and second before Alex Guthrie worked the second walk of the inning to load the bases. Junior Colton Plaia came up clutch for LMU once again, lining a two-RBI single into the right-centerfield gap to tie the game at 3-3. The two-RBI single was Plaia's lone hit of the game. Freshman Mitchell Esser completed the comeback on the ensuing play, shooting a sacrifice fly to left centerfield to bring home Guthrie and the game-winner. Abbruzza fell to 2-4 with the loss.
Lowenstein finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two walks out of the leadoff spot, while Esser batted 2-for-4 with the game-winning RBI.
Senior John Lally did not factor in the decision, but was good as LMU's starter, lasting seven innings and allowing three runs (one earned) on five hits. The lefty did walk five, but worked around the free passes while striking out four. After junior Matt Florer tossed a third of an inning, Bret Dahlson entered and dealt the final 1.2 frames scoreless, including striking out a pair to earn the victory and improve to 2-3.
Royce Bolinger paced the Gonzaga offense, going 3-for-4 with a RBI. Senior Andy Hunter got the start and went 6.1 innings, allowing just one earned run on seven hits while striking out five.
LMU scored first on Sunday, benefitting from a sacrifice fly from Guthrie to bring home Lowenstein in the first inning. Lowenstein had reached with a leadoff walk before moving to third on a pair of sacrifice bunts, including one that allowed Joey Boney to reach on an error charged to Hunter.
The Zags battled back in the home half of the first, evening the tally at one run apiece when a Steven Halcomb single and a passed ball set the table for a RBI-single from Bolinger.
Gonzaga extended the lead to 3-1 with single runs in the fifth and sixth. Clayton Eslick contributed the RBI-hit in the fifth, bringing home Halcomb who had reached with a leadoff walk to start the inning. The Zags played small ball for their run in the sixth, getting a run without the benefit of a hit. An error charged to Shon Roe at first base allowed the leadoff man to reach before a wild pitch and a pair of bunts, including a squeeze bunt from Maxx Garrett, plated the third run of the game for Gonzaga.
Never surrendering, LMU came up huge in its final at bat, getting to the reliever and stealing the final game and the series from Gonzaga on the road.
LMU returns to action on Saturday when it visits Long Beach State for a game at 5:30 p.m.