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Freshman Justin Blatner delivers on mound for Gonzaga

Justin Blatner got all the help any freshman pitcher could ask for in his first start, and he barely needed any of it.

The Gonzaga Prep alum pitched five scoreless innings against Washington State at the Patterson Baseball Complex on Tuesday night, holding the Cougars down while the Bulldogs bats came alive in the 8-0 win.

Blatner got better as the game went on. Despite letting WSU leadoff hitter Trek Stemp get to third base in the first inning, and allowing the Cougars to load the bases in the second, Blatner was unscathed on the scoreboard. He retired the side for the first time in the fifth inning, his last of the game.

The Bulldogs (17-10, 16-3 WCC) also loaded the bases during the second inning, and scored two runs when catcher Jake Roberts hit a double down the right-field line, plating Justin Jacobs and Tyler Frost.

The game stopped being competitive in the fifth inning. The Bulldogs scored five two-out runs, even after Trenton Dupre struck out two of the first three GU batters.

Justin Jacobs walked, advancing Taylor Jones, who had singled in between the two strikeouts. Then Dustin Breshears singled to load the bases. Joey Harris and Roberts each singled a runner home, and then Jace Vanderbake cleared the bases with a triple.

The Bulldogs are coming off a three-game road sweep of WCC rival Pacific, which has them sitting in a tie for second place with Saint Mary’s. Roberts came up big over the weekend, as well, driving in two extra-innings runs during Saturday’s 5-3 win over the Tigers. Just five days into April, the Bulldogs already have a pair of shutout wins.

Blatner surrendered just four hits and struck out five batters. He received capable relief help from Calvin LeBrun, who struck out three consecutive Cougars, and six total, while pitching three innings of hitless relief.

WSU (9-17, 2-7 Pac-12) sandwiched an encouraging win between a pair of blowout home losses in last weekend’s series against Arizona State. Up next for the Cougars is a trip to Arizona to face the Wildcats (18-11, 3-6 Pac-12).

Whitworth maintains NWC lead

Whitworth saw its nine-game winning streak snapped at Linfield, but the Pirates (21-6, 13-5 NWC) still hold a two-game lead in the Northwest Conference after falling in Saturday and Sunday’s contests.

That lead will be put to the test this weekend in a three-game series at home against second-place Pacific (18-11, 11-7). The Pirates and Boxers will play a doubleheader on Saturday, that starts at noon, with another noon game on Sunday. Because both teams only play three more NWC games after this weekend, a series win would all but wrap up a conference title for Whitworth.

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