STOCKTON, Calif. – Gonzaga left the bases loaded three times and conference Co-Player of the Year Marco Gonzales was hit hard on the mound as the Bulldogs fell 8-5 to the San Francisco Dons in the opener of the West Coast Conference baseball tournament on Thursday, giving GU a difficult path to earning an NCAA automatic bid.
The Bulldogs (32-20-1), the regular-season champions, will now have to win three consecutive games in the remaining two days of the double-elimination tournament at Banner Island Park to claim a berth.
Gonzaga will play Brigham Young at noon today. BYU lost to San Diego 9-8 in 10 innings on Thursday. If the Bulldogs defeat BYU they will play a night game at 7:30.
Gonzales (7-3) gave up 11 hits in seven innings, surrendering six runs, five earned, while walking three and striking out four.
The Bulldogs had the bases full in the bottom of the ninth, but pinch hitter Nicholas Minteer struck out to end the game. Gonzaga, which had eight hits, left 11 runners on base, failing to take full advantage of six walks and two batters hit by pitches.
Gonzaga, trailing 4-0 against USF starter Haden Hinkle (9-1), tied the game in the third on Steven Halcomb’s RBI single and Cory LeBrun’s three-run homer.
The fourth-seeded Dons (33-21) took the lead for good in the fifth on a sacrifice fly. The added another run in the seventh when left fielder Billy Moon dropped a two-out fly ball that allowed a runner to score from second.
Gonzaga scored on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the seventh before the Dons added two runs on four hits against two relievers in the ninth.
Holcomb had three hits.