No Relief in Huskies' loss to Bulldogs

Gonzaga battled back from a three-run deficit and scored three runs in the eighth inning to beat Washington 7-5 Wednesday night at Husky Ballpark. It was the fourth consecutive loss for the Huskies, who dropped to a dead-even 12-12-1 on the season.

The Bulldogs (16-14) pounded on Washington's bullpen once starter Clay Johnson left the game after the sixth having given up only two runs and three hits. The first victim; Randy Vanderplow. The right-hander ran into trouble after recording the first two outs of the seventh inning with relative ease. Three consecutive hits scored two Gonzaga runs to close a three-run Husky advantage to one at 5-4.

An inning later, it was Greg Colbrun who would receive the brunt of the damage. Colbrun could only retire two batters in the eighth, getting knocked around for three runs, including a leadoff homerun to Kevin Richardson, before being taken out in favor of lefty Zack Daniels. By that time, it was too little too late as the Bulldogs raced ahead 7-5 and never looked back. Washington couldn't manage any sort of rally its final two innings as the Zags rolled to a two-game series sweep.

Reliever Matt Reding didn't allow a run over the final four innings and took the win for Gonzaga for his first decision of the season. Colburn got the losing decision to drop to 1-1 for the year.

The game appeared to be in Washington's hands early on, thanks in large part to the pitching of Johnson, a sophomore who's struggled in previous outings this season. Johnson found success changes speeds with his pitches and didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning. He struck out six batters on the night.

Meanwhile, the Husky bats broke the game open early with timely hitting.

Having giving up a run in the fourth inning, the Huskies responded with three runs of its own in the bottom of the inning. With runners on first and third and one down, Michael Done brought home Mike Wagner with a sacrifice fly to leave the Huskies with two outs and a runner on first. But they weren't finished scoring. A double by John Otness scored Bryan Johnson from first, and a single by catcher Aaron Hathaway one batter later made it a 3-1 Husky advantage.

Gonzaga added a run in the fifth, but Washington again answered with two of its own during its half of the inning to make it a 5-2 game. Both of the UW's runs in the inning came with two outs as Bulldog reliever Steve Hare surrendered a bases loaded walk that pushed home Bryan Johnson from third base, then gave up a sacrifice fly from Michael Done to score one more.

After that inning, however, is when Husky Head Coach Ken Knutson decided to go to his bullpen, and the three-run cushion simply wasn't enough.

Player of the Game: Husky starter Clay Johnson put forth his best effort of the season as he gave up only two runs in six innings pitched. Along with that, he gave up only three hits while fanning six.

Play of the Game: Kevin Richardson's tee-shot off of Greg Colburn tied the game in the eighth and set up the late rally from Gonzaga.

Game Notes:

Piling up the Hardware: Washington junior left fielder Jay Garthwaite was named the NCBWA national player of the week after a torrid week at the plate in which he batted 11 for 22 with four home runs and 16 RBI. Two weeks earlier, Garthwaite won the Pacific-10 player of the week honor by hitting 7 for 13 with five runs, seven RBI, three triples and two homers.

Up Next: The Huskies head east to play a three-game series at the University of Missouri starting Friday, then return to Seattle April 9th for a nine-game home-stand that will include UC Irvine, Washington State, Lewis-Clark State, and Stanford.

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