Cards' Gonzales backing Zags in Big Dance

Former Gonzaga pitcher, wife watch NCAA Tournament selection show

Cards' Gonzales backing Zags in Big Dance

VIERA, Fla. -- After throwing three scoreless innings in Sunday's 4-4 tie against the Nationals, Cardinals left-hander Marco Gonzales boarded the team bus to Jupiter, Fla., where he and his wife, Monica, planned to watch Selection Sunday, anticipating what seed Gonzaga would receive in the NCAA men's baskeball tournament.

Gonzaga (26-7 overall; 15-3 in West Coast Conference) clinched an NCAA Tournament spot for the 18th consecutive year by winning its conference tournament Tuesday. Gonzales, who pitched for Gonzaga from 2011-13, was hopeful that the hoops team would receive a No. 6 or No. 7 seed, although he admitted No. 8 or No. 9 might be more realistic. Instead, Gonzaga is a No. 11 seed, facing sixth-seeded Seton Hall in its first game.

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Gonzales collected a number of accolades during his years at Gonzaga. As a freshman, he was named the conference's co-Player of the Year and co-Freshman of the Year, along with Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant. As a sophomore in 2012, Gonzales was named an All-American and the WCC Pitcher of the Year. In his junior year, he was again named WCC co-Player of the Year and won the John Olerud Award, given to the best two-way player.

Gonzales made his most recent trip to Gonzaga in mid-January along with Monica, who graduated from Gonzaga, to visit her brother, who is a sophomore, and attend a basketball game at McCarthy Athletic Center. Gonzales said he checked in with the baseball program while on campus.

The Bulldogs lost in the Round of 32 during each of Gonzales' college years, including in 2013, when they entered the tournament as a No. 1 seed. Last year, Gonzaga entered as a No. 2 seed and made it to the Elite Eight before losing to Duke, the eventual national champions.

Although this year's team does not look as formidable as in years past, Gonzales warned against overlooking the Bulldogs.

"That program is something that I don't think anybody should take for granted," he said. "They've got a lot of postseason experience, lot of tournament experience and know how to play in tough spots. I wouldn't count out [coach] Mark Few and what he can cook up."

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.