First baseman Taylor Jones doubled and singled in the first two innings, driving in three runs, and Brandon Bailey pitched seven strong innings as Gonzaga beat Arizona State 5-1 in the opener of the Fort Worth Regional on Friday at Lupton Stadium.
The Bulldogs (36-19), co-champions of the West Coast Conference, advanced to a Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. winner’s bracket game against TCU or Oral Roberts, who played later Friday.
Arizona State, of the Pac-12, is one loss away from elimination. The Sun Devils (34-22) will play the TCU-Oral Roberts loser at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Jones’ double to left center in the first inning was his team-best 25th — he ranked sixth in the nation coming in — and it gave Gonzaga a 1-0 lead.
“I heard the roar of our teammates, so I knew something good happened,” said Bailey (10-3), who was in the training room preparing to pitch in the bottom of the inning. “I started yelling at one of our pitchers — he was relaying back and forth to me what was going on. He said, ‘Taylor just doubled!’ I said, ‘Did we score?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ Well, that was a good way to start.”
Jones drove in another run in the second inning when he singled to drive in Jeffrey Bohling for a 4-0 lead. Bohling’s infield single earlier in the inning had also scored a run.
Gonzaga made it 5-0 in the third inning on Nick Brooks’ double, chasing Arizona State starter Seth Martinez (9-4).
“Seth Martinez is one of the reasons we were able to be in this regional; just picked a tough time not to have a quality start,” ASU coach Tracy Smith said. “But in spite of that, we still had a chance to make that a baseball game, and even win a baseball game.”
Eli Lingos finished the game with 6 1/3 innings in relief for the Sun Devils.
Bailey, Hellinger (8) and Harris. Martinez, Higgins (3), Lingos (3) and Serven. W— Bailey. L—Martinez. 2B—Gonzaga: Jones, Brooks. E— Arizona State: Canning, Woodmansee
RECORDS — Gonzaga 36-19. Arizona State 34-22.