After losing two of three close games in last weekend's series against Hawaii, the Zags are looking to bounce back in two home games Tuesday and Wednesday night in Spokane against cross-state rival Washington. Gonzaga (11-16) appears to be the underdog, while UW (14-11) looks to be the top dawg. They played each other earlier this year in the Arizona tournament, where the Huskies squeaked out a 10-9 victory.
UDub plays in America's best conference, the Pac-10. Proof? Four of the teams are currently in the College Baseball Newspaper top 25 poll. The Huskies aren't one of them, but they've played some conference games, and the fact that their record is above .500, considering that they've also played a rather tough schedule, is impressive. Read on for a preview of the series.
Speaking of schedules, that's one of the most intriguing things about this pair of games. Gonzaga and Washington have both played many of the same teams, both early in the season and more recently. We've both faced Missouri, New Mexico State, BYU, and of course, each other. UW also played WSU in a three-game set, and I wish our game against them last week hadn't been postponed; it would have been a great indicator as to how we stack up. In their toughest matchup, the Dawgs had the guts to play nationally-ranked Cal State Fullerton in a weekend series...they lost all three, two of which were blowouts, but they're better prepared to play anybody now.
Last week, UW was scheduled to play WSU in four games, but they only got three in due to a rainout. Of those three, they won two, and the third was a one-run loss in the twelfth inning. The pitching on both sides was mediocre, and the hitting was consistently solid. Runs were on the board early and often for almost all of those games.
For their successes recently, Mark Castellitto and Cody Martin each scooped up WCC awards. Castellitto was named co-Player of the Month, while Martin earned Pitcher of the Week honors for his outing versus Hawaii.
I'm very interested to see how coach Machtolf approaches the pitching rotation for these games; both Carpenter and Martin went pretty deep in their starts against Hawaii last weekend, and the Zags begin WCC play this weekend at USF. He might let both of them go a few innings then utilize the bullpen, or he might start a reliever who needs some more innings to develop; there's been no confirmation either way. UDub has junior Forest Snow slated to toss tonight, a reliever who hasn't racked up many innings, so it looks like Washington might be looking past Gonzaga a bit.
But I anticipate that's where GU will surprise them. Our record doesn't indicate how well we've played, and definitely doesn't reflect the high level of talent up and down the roster. If our fielders can keeps the errors to an absolute minimum (hopefully zero), and our hitters continue to do their thing, the Bulldogs have a big chance to upset the Huskies in this pair of games.
Tonight's game will air on SWX, and you can also listen on AM 1510 KGA in the greater Spokane area.