Jan. 29, 2008
Spokane, Wash. - The Gonzaga University baseball team has been selected to finish fifth in the 2008 West Coast Conference preseason poll, as voted on by the conference's head coaches, who were not allowed to vote for themselves.
Defending WCC champion, University of San Diego, who is ranked as high as fifth in the preseason polls, received seven first place votes and a total of 49 votes. Second place was awarded to Pepperdine University with 42 votes, while Santa Clara University grabbed third place with 32 points, including one first place vote. Loyola Marymount University edged out the Bulldogs for fourth place with 29. The Bulldogs were one vote behind receiving 28 total votes The University of San Francisco was tabbed sixth with 24 points while University of Portland and Saint Mary's College round out the poll with 12 and 8 votes, respectively.
The Zags return 18 letter winners, including four starters, from last season's memorable squad. In 2007, Gonzaga finished 33-25, 15-6 in conference play, placing second in the conference to advance to the WCC Championship series against San Diego. Headlining the returning Gonzaga veterans this season are unanimous All-West Coast Conference picks Shawn Wayt and Ryan Wiegand, as well as All-WCC honorable mention honoree Brandon Harmon and all-league freshman team member Jeremy Stumetz.
The preseason favorite Toreros are coming off the most successful season in program history as they compiled a 43-18 overall record en route to the WCC title. USD reached as high as No. 4 in the national rankings last season and hosted a regional as the No. 8 national seed, the first time it was awarded the honor. Head coach Rich Hill welcomes back San Diego's entire weekend rotation from last season, including All-Americans and USA National Team veterans Brian Matusz and Josh Romanski. Last season, Matusz set a Torero record with 163 strikeouts while limiting opponents to a .214 batting average en route to a 10-3 record. Romanski posted a 9-1 mark in 18 mound appearances and ranked third on the squad with a .335 batting average as San Diego's center fielder. The Toreros also boast the nation's top ranked recruiting class according to Baseball America.
The Bulldogs will open the 2008 campaign on Feb. 22 with a four-game series at No. 27 Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla.
2008 WCC Baseball Preseason Poll1.San Diego - 49 (7)2.Pepperdine - 423. Santa Clara - 32 (1)4.Loyola Marymount - 295.GONZAGA - 286.San Francisco - 247. Portland - 128. Saint Mary's - 8(First place votes)