FULLERTON, Calif.—On Saturday, Utah came back from a 9-4 deficit to beat Georgia Southern and keep its season alive. On Sunday, the Utes led 9-4 and watched as Gonzaga began chipping away at their cushion. But this rally ran out of gas, and Utah held on for a 9-7 win to earn a rematch with Cal State Fullerton this evening.
Gonzaga starter Ryan Carpenter flashed plenty of potential, striking out seven over 4 1/3 innings, but he also surrendered five runs on eight hits, as his stuff dropped off in the middle innings. Meanwhile, Utah lefthander Bryn Card (7 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 7 K) held the Zags at bay with an excellent changeup and good breaking ball.
"He was throwing a lot of strikes," Gonzaga catcher Tyson Van Winkle said of Card. "He was getting ahead, throwing three pitches for strikes, keeping us off balance. We came up with a number of hits—we scored seven runs—and we had a lot of opportunities we didn’t take advantage of. We didn’t get big hits when we needed them. Hats off to (Card); he did a great job."
Gonzaga, of course, has plenty to be proud of after winning the West Coast Conference regular-season title and championship series and reaching regionals for the first time since 1981. For Zags coach Mark Machtolf, parting with his senior class is bitter-sweet.
"Special is the word that comes to mind," Machtolf said of his seniors. "It’s a group that pushed us over the top in terms of, not quite getting where we wanted to, but certainly got farther than we have been. They pushed us over the top with their toughness and attitude, and I think this program will be forever indebted to this group. It’s been 25 years since we’d been in a regional, and this is something they can take to their grave."
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