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Tuesday, October 20, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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College baseball: Gonzaga joins balanced field at West Coast Conference Championships

Daniel Bies  is expected to start Thursday when Gonzaga’s baseball team opens the West Coast Conference Championships against Loyola Marymount. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Daniel Bies is expected to start Thursday when Gonzaga’s baseball team opens the West Coast Conference Championships against Loyola Marymount. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
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STOCKTON, Calif. – There’s not much separating the four baseball teams competing at the West Coast Conference Championships.

Second-seeded Gonzaga (29-22) opens against No. 3 Loyola Marymount (24-28) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Banner Island Ballpark with ace Daniel Bies (6-4, 2.59 earned-run average) expected to start.

The Bulldogs defeated LMU 2-1 in their season series, but the Lions’ lone win came against Bies. Codie Paiva (6-5, 3.54), who is expected to start the opener for LMU, defeated Bies and the Zags 5-2 on April 27.

Thursday’s first game matches top-seeded Pepperdine (29-22) against No. 4 San Francisco (28-28) at 3 p.m. Pepperdine and LMU had great success against USF this season, winning five of six matchups, but USF is the only team in the field that won the season series from Gonzaga.

The Zags hit .303 during their series against LMU, led by Ernie Yake’s 6-for-11 effort and Carson Breshears (5 for 11). GU had five doubles and five home runs during the series.

The Bulldogs had the WCC’s top ERA (2.76) in conference games.

The double-elimination tournament continues Friday and Saturday. The champion will advance to the NCAA Tournament.

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