April 23, 2010
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Behind a dominating performance from junior right-hander Kyle Blair, in which he recorded a season-high 12 strikeouts, the University of San Diego baseball team not only picked up a 9-4 win over Gonzaga University, but improved to 7-0 in the West Coast Conference, marking the best start in WCC play in program history.
With the win, the Toreros improve to 21-15 overall, move to 7-0 in the WCC and run its winning streak to four games. With the loss, the Zags fall to 13-25-1 overall and 2-4-1 in the WCC.
After a rocky start to his outing, surrendering three unearned runs in the first two innings, Blair settled down and held the Gonzaga bats at bay. After surrendering a lead-off double in the top of the third inning, Blair settled down and proceeded to retire his next 15 batters, eight via the strikeout, over the next four innings before Mark Castellitto broke that streak with a single in the top of the eighth inning. Blair (5-3) picked up the win on the mound as he allowed four runs, one earned, while scattering six hits over 7.2 innings of work. Matt Thomson picked up his third save of the season, as he allowed no runs on two hits in 1.1 innings of work.
The Zags were able to take advantage of a USD fielding mistake in the top of the first inning to score a pair of unearned runs on pass ball and a Clayton Eslick RBI single to take the early lead.
After the Toreros cut the lead in half in the bottom of the first inning on a Zach Walters ground out, which scored Muno, who had walked, the Zags took that run back in the top of the second inning by taking advantage of a USD fielding error. The GU run came when Steven Halcom reached on a fielder's choice, which scored Cameron Edman, who had singled, to give the Bulldogs a 3-1 edge.
The Toreros bats then exploded in the bottom of the fourth inning as they scored three runs on five hits to take a 4-3 lead. James Meador got things started with an infield single and moved to second on Tony Strazzara's single to left field. Then with two outs, both Meador and Strazzara moved up one base on a pass ball, and Nick McCoy drove in the first two runs with a two-run single to right field. Victor Sanchez kept things rolling with a two-out single, moving McCoy to second and Dillon Checkal brought in McCoy with a RBI single left centerfield to give USD the lead.
The Toreros then added three more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to take complete control of the game. Kevin Muno led off the frame with a walk and moved to third on Chris Engel's single through the left side. Zach Walters then drove in Muno with an RBI single to right field, moving Engell to second. After Medaor moved both runners up a base with a sacrifice bunt, the Zags elected to intentionally walk Strazzara to get to Mike Ferraro. Ferraro made them pay as he hit a two-run single to left centerfield to give USD a 7-3 advantage.
San Diego would tag on two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning on back-to-back RBI singles by Meador and Strazzara to cap the USD scoring for the day and put the game out of reach at 9-3.
GU would take back one more run in the top of the eighth inning to put the game at its final of 9-4.
Offensively for the Toreros, Meador led the way as he went 3-for-4 with one RBI, while Engell went 2-for-5 and Strazzara went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Gonzaga's Cody Martin (4-4) was saddled with the loss for the Bulldogs as he allowed nine runs on 14 hits in 6.1 innings of work.
San Diego will return to action on Saturday at 1 p.m. as they resume the three-game WCC series with the Zags at Cunningham Stadium.