Sopko Gem Lifts Zags to Portland Sweep - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Sopko Gem Lifts Zags to Portland Sweep

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Andrew Sopko pitched a gem and led the Zags to the win in game three of a three-game sweep over Portland on Saturday. Andrew Sopko pitched a gem and led the Zags to the win in game three of a three-game sweep over Portland on Saturday.

by Gonzaga Athletics

SPOKANE, Wash. – Behind a complete-game shutout from sophomore Andrew Sopko, the Gonzaga University baseball team polished off its series sweep over the University of Portland Saturday 3-0 at Patterson Baseball Complex and Washington Trust Field.

“For us, we come into the weekend trying to win a series,” head coach Mark Machtolf said. “It’s hard to sweep anyone, especially in our conference. These wins were huge and we look to keep things rolling. We hope to continue this momentum into our upcoming road trips.”

The Bulldogs 12th consecutive win over Portland (8-33, 2-16) moves the Zags record to 15-23 and 11-7 in the West Coast Conference.

Sopko’s gem marks the first complete-game and shutout in the right-handers career. He scattered eight hits while striking out six and walking three. The Missoula, Mont., native lowered his ERA to a team-best 2.70.

The first six innings was quite the pitching duel between Sopko and Pilot Chad Kjemhus. It was not until the seventh inning when the Zags scored.

Cory LeBrun got the action started in the frame with a double down the right field line. Portland’s right fielder Ryan Barr made an error fielding the ball, which allowed LeBrun to advance to third. Two batters later Joey Harris laid a sacrifice squeeze bunt that allowed the first run to score.

GU added a pair of insurance runs in their next at bat in the eighth.

Payden Cawley Lamb singled to open the inning and advanced to second base on a wild pitch from Pilot reliever Brandon Snyder. Jimmy Sinatro then singled to second but a throwing error from Caleb Whelan allowed Lamb to score and Sinatro to advance.

Sam Brown dropped a sacrifice bunt, which brought Sinatro to third base. GU then brought in Beau Bozett to pinch-hit and he laid sacrifice squeeze to bring home the Zags third run of the game.

Lamb led the way for the Bulldogs with a 3-for-4 performance and a run scored. Mitchell Gunsolus, LeBrun and Sinatro each added a pair of hits.

“Payden was outstanding all weekend,” Machtolf complimented. “We had a great weekend from our pitching staff and everyone on our roster contributed. We had a lot of timely, but big hits which carried us. It was a great team effort against Portland this weekend.”

Portland had several opportunities score in the game but terrific fielding efforts from the Bulldogs hampered the Pilots rallies.

Davis Tominaga tripled to open the second inning but thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice from Cabe Reiten at third base. Two innings later, Tucker Gill was thrown out at home by center fielder Brown to save a run.

Gonzaga will look to climb the WCC standings with a seven game road swing. GU travels to Saint Mary’s College next weekend for three games. Prior to the series with the Gaels, the Zags resume its rivalry with Washington State University with a Tuesday night game in Pullman at 6 p.m.

“We are going to give everyone our best shot,” Machtolf said. “Everyone in the league is within striking distance. We expect a battle until the end of conference. We are excited to taking care of business.”

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