SAN DIEGO — Royce Bolinger’s feet flew up in the air as he slid six to eight feet across the grass in centerfield at Cunningham Stadium. The second inning line drive San Diego’s Victor Rasor-Thompson had hit was firmly in his glove throughout the entirety of Bolinger’s dive. But as he pushed himself to his feet, the ball shot out of his glove and rolled toward the infield.
Though Bolinger had controlled the ball throughout the catch and the entire Gonzaga (20-9, 3-3) team was already headed toward the first base dugout, the umpires ruled there was no catch. Bolinger stared at the umpires with his arms in the air. Left fielder Brock Slavin retrieved the ball, his glove in his hand rather than on it after he removed it, also thinking the inning was over.
Instead of a spectacular inning-ending catch, Rasor-Thompson was credited with an RBI-double and scored on a Louie Lechich single to tie the game 2-2.
With the help of the controversial call that Gonzaga coach Mark Machtolf vehemently argued for nearly five minutes, No. 21 San Diego (25-8, 7-2) defeated the Bulldogs 5-3 Saturday afternoon to win the important West Coast Conference Series.
Gonzaga opened with an early 2-0 lead with a pair of runs in the first inning against San Diego starter Dylan Covey. Eric Lane scored on a Clayton Eslick single after being hit by a pitch and stealing second base. Eslick scored later in the inning when shortstop Julian Duran lost a two-out popup in the sun.
Covey allowed a hard-hit leadoff single in the second inning before finding his stuff. After that, Covery was unhittable. He retired 21 of the final 23 batters he faced, only walking a batter in the fourth and another in the eighth.
Gonzaga’s Billy Moon was just as effective, matching him through seven innings, but San Diego was able to get to Moon in the eighth inning. A leadoff error put a runner on for the heart of the Toreros lineup. Dillon Haupt collected his third hit of the game with a bloop single over the second baseman and Machtolf chose to stick with the left-handed Moon against preseason All-American Kris Bryant, who had been quiet in the series.
Bryant delivered at the opportune time. He laced a two-run triple into the right-centerfield gap. Bryan Harr singled home Bryant on the very next pitch to make it 5-2.
Despite pitching two innings Friday night, the nation leader in saves, Michael Wagner, was called on by coach Rich Hill to finish off the Bulldogs. Wagner gave up a run on a walk and two singles before baring down. After not throwing any of his first 10 pitches 90+ miles per hour, Wagner cranked it up striking out Maxx Garrett with a 91 mph fastball and finished the game with a strikeout of Lane on a pitch Hill said was 94 mph.
Covey improved to 4-2 on the season while Moon fell to 3-2. Wagner picked up his 14th save.
Check out the photo gallery from Saturday afternoon’s San Diego/Gonzaga matchup below: