The Cougars struggled to get the bats going Tuesday night as they fell to the Gonzaga Bulldogs, 7-2 at Bailey-Brayton Field. The loss dropped the Cougars to 5-4 on the homestand, and 16-11 overall. It was the team’s second defeat at the hands of the Bulldogs this season.
Derek Callahan pitched five solid innings for the Bulldogs, allowing no runs on four hits. The southpaw starter walked three and struck out three en route to his second win of the season.
Tyler Olson recorded the save, retiring Cougars outfielder Ben Roberts to end the game.
Sophomore Sam Triece (0-1, 4.26 ERA) was on the hill for WSU. The right-hander held the Bulldogs hitless through three, but was tabbed with the loss for WSU, surrendering two runs on one hit and three walks through three innings of work.
In the fourth inning, third baseman Mitchell Gunsolus became the first base runner of the game for the Bulldogs with a line-drive single into center.
J.D. Leckenby entered the game for the Cougars after Triece walked Caleb Wood to put two men on with nobody out.
The right-hander entered the game with a 6.35 ERA in 11 1/3 innings pitched.
After the pitching change, Gunsolus stole third base on a bang-bang play and was simultaneously singled in by first baseman Marco Gonzales for a 1-0 Bulldogs lead.
Gonzalez entered the game as Gonzaga’s hottest hitter, batting .347 with a .387 slugging percentage.
A second run came in after Gonzaga designated hitter Clayton Eslick laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt down the first base line, plating Wood and reaching base on a fielding error by the Cougars. Gonzaga left fielder Payden Cawley Lamb followed suit with his own single into left field, for a 3-0 Bulldogs lead.
Leckenby was able to stop the bleeding and induce a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning but the damage had been done.
But the Bulldogs scoring barrage was not finished yet.
Centerfielder Alex Bonczyk led off the top half of the fifth inning with a single into right-center field and advanced to third with two outs. With right fielder Cory LeBrun at the dish, Leckenby’s offering got past catcher P.J. Jones and allowed Bonczyk to slide in safely for a 4-0 Gonzaga lead.
Cougars right-hander Chris McDowell replaced Leckenby on the mound and retired the side.
Bonczyk led off the seventh inning for Gonzaga with the first extra base-hit of the ballgame for either team - a double into left field off McDowell.
Gunsolus sacrificed Bonczyk over to third and Wood drove him in with an infield single down the third-base line for the fifth run of the game for the Bulldogs. Two batters later, Gonzaga pushed their lead to six as Gonzales drove in Wood with a single into left field.
Cougar leftfielder Adam Nelubowich prevented an extra-base hit and another potential run scored with a diving catch to end the scoring threat.
WSU finally got on the board in the bottom half of the seventh off new pitcher Zach Abbruzza by leading things off with a single by right fielder Jason Monda.
Centerfield Collin Slaybaugh reached first on a fielder’s choice and stole second before being doubled in by the Cougars’ leading hitter, second baseman Nick Tanielu.
Tanielu started the game batting .424 and sporting a .657 slugging percentage. The double was Tanielu’s 12th on the season and 15th extra-base hit.
Nelubowich’s RBI double scored Tanielu to trim the Cougars’ deficit to four, 6-2 Gonzaga.
With the bases loaded in the eighth for Gonzaga, Wood singled into center field of Cougars’ reliever Kellen Camus to plate the lead-runner Brock Slavin for a 7-2 lead.
A great throw by Slaybaugh gunned down Cabe Reiten attempting to score from second.
The Cougars threatened in the ninth, loading up the bases with last licks in the ninth but were unable to capitalize on the opportunity.
Leckenby, McDowell, and Camus all struggled in relief for the Cougars, allowing five earned runs between the three of them.
The Cougars travel to Utah on Friday April 5 for a three-game series versus Pac-12 rival Utah followed by one against non-conference opponent BYU.