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BASEBALL: Homers make difference in Gonzaga win over Lamar

Lamar sports information

SPOKANE, Wash. — A solo home run in a very small field proved the difference Friday in the first of three games between Lamar (16-32) and Gonzaga (26-20). The Cardinals overcame an opponent’s perfect game through five innings with a five-run, six-hit sixth inning, but the Zags got long balls in the first, second, and eighth innings to eke out a 7-6 win over Big Red.

Starter Noah Sills went four and a third innings with four runs on five hits, though most of Gonzaga’s offense early on came on two homers to left field that would be easy outs in Lamar’s ballpark. A fourth run scored on a wild pitch in the fifth inning.

Kristjan Storrie and Ryan Erickson threw three and two-thirds innings of relief for LU with three runs runs on three hits and two walks. They combined for two strikeouts.

A solo shot in the bottom of the first was the only offense for either team in the first inning with the ball traveling roughly 340 feet. The Zags got another two runs on a one-out single and a two-out homer to the left corner that barely cleared the wall reading 328 feet. After two innings Gonzaga led 3-0.

In the fifth a lead-off double reached third on a grounder and scored on a wild pitch, giving Gonzaga a 4-0 lead.

The Cards went down in order through the first five innings but found something in the sixth. Anthony Quirion broke up the perfect game with a bloop single to left field, then reached second on a single by Reese Durand and third on a single by Rhett McCall, both through the right side. With the bases loaded Avery George singled to center field and scored Quirion, though McCall was thrown out at second by the right fielder. A single by Cole Girouard scored Durand and put George on third, and a homer by JC Correa with two outs gave Lamar a 5-4 lead.

Gonzaga answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning. The Zags got a lead off walk to second on a 4-3 grounder and got two on with a two-out hit-by-pitch. Back-to-back singles with two outs scored the two who got on for free and gave GU a 6-5 lead through six innings.

Quirion again came through with one out in the seventh. The junior from Dixville, Quebec, Canada, took one pitch before doubling down the left field line. McCall then earned his 11th RBI of the year with a two-out single and reached third on an error by the catcher. George tried to bring him home with a line drive at the pitcher, but he was about a half second too slow to beat out the through to first. As the fans stood and stretched the game was tied at 6-6. Erickson struck out the first two batters he faced, and a walk was nullified when McCall caught him attempting to steal second. Through seven innings the game was tied at 6-6.

Gonzaga took the lead for the final time in the bottom of the eighth, again riding the long ball. After a liner to left field the next batter homered to right, smashing a ball off the scoreboard about 350 feet away. The Cards went down in order in the bottom of the inning and Gonzaga escaped with a 7-6 decision over Lamar. The loss puts LU at 7-18 in games decided by two or fewer runs in 2019.

Game 2 of the series begins at 8 p.m. Saturday with Jason Blanchard on the mound.