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Austin Pinorini’s big eighth inning lifts Gonzaga baseball into West Coast Conference title game

UPDATED: Fri., May 25, 2018, 9:48 p.m.

The Gonzaga baseball team has had plenty to celebrate this year, including the WCC Tournament championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
The Gonzaga baseball team has had plenty to celebrate this year, including the WCC Tournament championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

STOCKTON, California – Austin Pinorini hit the go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning as second-seeded Gonzaga topped Pepperdine 4-2 on Friday to reach the West Coast Conference Baseball Championship title game.

Pinorini also plated an insurance run later in the inning for the Bulldogs (31-22) when he scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch.

“That eighth inning was a great response after they tied the game, and getting two made it tough on Pepperdine,” Gonzaga coach Mark Machtolf said.

GU starter Alek Jacob (North Central) gave the Zags a solid start, going 6 1/3 innings and allowing two runs on three hits with five strikeouts and two walks. Casey Legumina got the win after entering for Jacob in the seventh and pitching the final 2 2/3 innings.

“Alek Jacob has been throwing the ball well the last three weeks, and Legumina did what he does. His fastball was sharp, his slider was sharp and you feel good about having him out there to close it,” Machtolf said.

Nick Brooks hit a two-run homer in the second inning to put GU on top after Pepperdine’s Jordan Qsar hit a solo shot in the top half of the inning.

Gonzaga will face the winner of tonight’s game between the top-seeded Waves and third-seeded Loyola Marymount. The Bulldogs, making their third consecutive appearance in the championship round, need one victory on Saturday to claim the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

The Bulldogs’ first shot at the tournament title is at 3 p.m. on Saturday. With the double-elimination format, a second game is scheduled for 7 p.m., if necessary.