Headed into this weekend, the UC-Irvine Anteaters were #11 in the college baseball rankings, and were in USA Today's top 15. However, they were noticeably absent from Baseball America's list, and we told you why in our series preview: their non-conference schedule is weak. Very weak.
The Bulldogs (13-6) put their extremely difficult schedule (3rd hardest in America, according to CollegeBaseballMag.com) to use and made quick work of the Eaters, 4-1 on Friday, and 3-0 Saturday and Sunday. The win streak is now at nine games.
Read below the jump for a series recap, and a preview of the home-and-home with Washington St.
The atmosphere during Friday night's home opener was wonderful. Yeah, it was cold and wet, but so what? It was the beginning of baseball season in Spokane and the students were excited for it. The team put on a fun show and took the game 4-1. Ryan Carpenter went seven innings for GU and allowed six hits, one run, and walked and struck out three. His changeup was diving right off the table and had great speed variation from the rest of his arsenal. Cody Martin went the last two and set them down in order, striking out five in the process.
At the plate, Royce Bolinger was exceptional: he went for three hits and two RBIs. Unfortunately, he was left on-base three times; he was the only batter with more than one hit, and as a team we stranded 11. This was possibly the most infuriating aspect of last year's squad, and hopefully they can bring runners around this season.
Saturday's 3-0 shutout was an impressive outing for Tyler Olson who allowed six hits through six innings, and Andy Hunter picked up the save. Catcher Cameron Edman picked up a pair of hits and is beginning to make his way as a starter this season after Kevin Hawk, last year's catcher, transferred to Lewis and Clark St. He's got a good arm and focused presence behind the plate and the pitchers seem to trust him.
Sunday's finale was also 3-0, and freshman starter Marco Gonzalez took the W, earning the WCC Rawlings Pitcher of the Week in the process. In his sixth college start, he threw a complete game shutout, allowing just six hits, picking up six Ks and walking two. He had a rough start (ERA in the 7s) in February, but has bounced back and touts a 3-2 record.
Stats as of Monday: http://graphics.fansonly.com/photos/schools/gonz/sports/m-basebl/auto_pdf/cumulative-stats.pdf
Gonzaga's pitching is really coming together at the right time, and the bats have started syncing up in the last few series. I mentioned Billy Moon in the series preview, and he picked up four hits and an RBI over the three-gamer.
The Zags get WSU for a home-and-home starting tomorrow night in Pullman, and concluding in Spokane next Tuesday. The Cougs are on a six-game skid, losing back-to-back series to #16 Cal (first Pac-10 play) and Fresno State, who beat GU in the season-opener. But don't expect WSU to play lazy: they play Stanford next and want to be ready for one of college baseball's most historically successful teams.
Player to watch: Royce Bolinger. He's hitting .348 and leads GU in RBIs with 13. He really knows how to work a count: with the bases empty he waited three or four pitches, but on Friday he swung at first or second pitches in all but one of his at-bats and brought home RBIs.
For more on the players, the bio page: http://www.gozags.com/sports/m-basebl/mtt/gonz-m-basebl-mtt.html
Tomorrow's game is @ WSU, 5:30pm. Follow on gametracker.