STOCKTON, Calif. – One big swing from Joe Vranesh brought an end to Gonzaga’s baseball season.
Vranesh’s three-run homer to left-center in the seventh inning Friday snapped a 1-all tie, and Saint Mary’s held off Gonzaga 4-3 in a West Coast Conference Championship loser-out game at Banner Island Ballpark.
The Bulldogs (31-24) rallied with two runs in the eighth but couldn’t get the equalizer.
The Gaels (35-21) will meet Loyola Marymount (31-23) at 3 p.m. Saturday. Saint Mary’s must defeat LMU twice to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
LMU advanced to the title round with a 3-2 win over Saint Mary’s earlier in the evening.
The Zags struck first against the Gaels on Troy Johnston’s solo homer to right in the first inning.
Kevin Milam’s RBI single in the bottom of the first knotted the score.
The teams cruised through five scoreless innings until the seventh. GU’s Michael Spellacy (2-2) issued an inning-opening walk before Jack Murphy singled. After a fielder’s choice put runners on the corners, Vranesh hit his winning homer.
The Zags’ Daniel Fredrickson had an RBI double in the eighth and scored on a throwing error.
GU starter Alek Jacob allowed three hits and one earned run in four innings, striking out seven and walking one.
Carlos Lomeli earned the win with 7 2/3 solid innings.
In their opener of the day, the Bulldogs eliminated top-seeded and 24th-ranked BYU (36-17) when Mac Lardner pitched eight strong innings and Ernie Yake homered in a 3-1 decision.
Lardner (6-4) allowed three hits and one earned run, striking out seven and walking one. Jacob pitched the ninth for the save.
Yake’s homer in the bottom of the first tied the game at 1.
The Zags took the lead in the fifth on Isaac Barrera’s two-out RBI single. GU added insurance in the sixth when Fredrickson laid down a safety squeeze and Troy Johnston slid around the catcher’s tag.
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