Jan. 31, 2007
SPOKANE, Wash. -
BULLDOGS OPEN 2007 SEASON IN TUCSON: The Gonzaga University baseball team will open the 2007 season this weekend with a road trip to No. 27 University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz. The three-game series will begin Friday evening followed by games on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. The trip to Arizona marks the fourth time in the past five years the Zags have opened their season in the Grand Canyon State. Gonzaga opened the 2003, 2004 and 2005 seasons at tournaments in the Phoenix area. Last season, the Zags opened the season at the University of Texas-Pan American Tournament in Edinburg, Texas.
PATTERSON BASEBALL COMPLEX AND WASHINGTON TRUST FIELD: This season, the Zags will call the Gonzaga University campus home for the first time in nearly three and a half years. The 2007 season marks the inaugural year of play at Patterson Baseball Complex and Washington Trust Field. The new home of Bulldog baseball is a state-of-the-art facility that also incorporates an old-time baseball feel. The new stadium includes 1,300 theater-style seats and includes classic brick detailing. Major League amenities include a state-of-the-art infield, a professional candle lighting system and authentic home and visitor dugouts with underground passages to full-service clubhouses. The first game at the new facility is scheduled for March 15 against Rider University. Dedication ceremonies will be held April 20 prior to the game against Saint Mary's College.
LONG ROAD SWING: The Gonzaga University baseball team will open the 2007 campaign with 22 consecutive road games over the first month and a half of the season. The 22-game span will take the Bulldogs to five states, including two trips to Arizona. Besides Arizona, GU will travel to California, Texas, Idaho and Utah, totaling nearly 10,500 miles. Following the road games, the Zags will return home for a 12 game homestand before embarking on the road, once again.
HEAD COACH Mark Machtolf: Mark Machtolf enters his fourth season as the head coach of the Gonzaga University baseball team and 15th year as a member of the Bulldog coaching staff. Machtolf was handed the head coaching reigns on August 7, 2003, following an 11-year stint as an assistant coach. He replaced former head coach Steve Hertz, who moved into an administrative position in the Gonzaga Athletic Department. Machtolf has posted an 81-77 record at Gonzaga, including a 40-38 mark in West Coast Conference play. During his first three seasons he has led the Bulldogs to three top-five finishes and produced the WCC Player of the Year in 2004, former Zag Kiel Thibault. A 1987 graduate of Stanford University, Machtolf was a member of the Cardinal's 1987 College World Series championship team and was an All-CWS selection.
MACHTOLF PART OF TEAM USA COACHING STAFF: Gonzaga University head coach Mark Machtolf served as an assistant coach for Team USA during the summer of 2006. Under Machtolf's guidance, the National Team posted a 28-2-1 record, including going a perfect 8-0 at the Federation Internationale du Sport Universitaire (FISU) World Championships in Havanna, Cuba. The .919 win percentage for the season was the best ever posted by a USA Baseball collegiate team and the tournament win was the first ever for a USA Baseball National Team in Cuba. Vanderbilt University head coach Tim Corbin served as head coach while TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle and Auburn head coach Tom Slater joined Machtolf as assistant coaches.
SCOUTING THE WILDCATS: The University of Arizona will open its season this weekend against the University of Gonzaga. Arizona is currently ranked No. 27 in the Collegiate Baseball poll. The Wildcats finished last season with a 27-28 record, including going 12-12 in Pacific-10 Conference play. This season, Arizona is led by senior Bill Rhinehart. As a junior, Rhinehart hit .333 with 58 hits and 48 runs batted in. The Wildcats lead the all-time series against the Bulldogs, 4-0. All four meetings between the two schools occurred during the 1980 season. The first two games were a doubleheader on March 11, with Arizona prevailing 12-6 and 3-1. The final two games came on May 24 and 25 at the Far West Regional of the NCAA Tournament, with the 'Cats winning both games by the scores of 13-9 and 8-5.
LIVE ON THE INTERNET: All Gonzaga University home matches will be available via Gametracker on the internet at http://www.gozags.com. Check the Gonzaga web site for all Gametracker links.
PROGRAM FIELDING RECORD BROKE, AGAIN: For the second season year in row, the Gonzaga University set a school record for fielding percentage. The Zags' .976 fielding percentage ranked seventh in the country last season, and first in the West Coast Conference. Gonzaga also ranked 84th in Division I with 0.91 double plays per game. The Bulldogs committed only 49 errors in 2,018 chances in 2006.
FROM CLOSER TO STARTER: Anchoring a group of veteran pitchers for Gonzaga University this season will be All-West Coast Conference honorable mention honoree, Brandon Harmon. Last season, Harmon was used primarily as the closer, earning a 3.25 earned-run-average in 26 appearances while posting three saves. This season, Harmon will serve as the Zags top starter and probable starter for Friday's match up against the University of Arizona. Joining Harmon in the expected Gonzaga starting rotation will be Clayton Mortensen. Other strong candidates for starting roles will be Cory Powell and Bobby McEwen. Matt Fields, who saw limited relief work last season, will step into the closer role, while Josh Monroe, Shawn Wayt and Chris Highmark will add depth to the pen. CJ McClure, Chris Griffith and Jeremy Stumetz round out the Bulldog pitching staff and will be looked upon to provide middle relief.
COLCLOUGH RETURNS TO CATCHING DUTIES: Behind the plate for the Bulldogs in 2007 will be Dustin Colclough. Colclough produced a solid campaign in 2006, recording a .304 average with 41 hits and 20 runs scored. Backing up Colclough will be sophomore Tyson Van Winkle and newcomer Daniel Isaacson.
AROUND THE INFIELD: The Gonzaga University infield returns two starters from last season, Aaron McGuinness at shortstop and Darin Holcomb at third. Ryan Wiegand, who was used primarily as designated hitter last season, will assume responsibilities at first base, while Evan Wells, is expected to be the starting second baseman. Adding depth to the infield will be Mike Terry, Alex Parrott and Brian Winston.
DOGFIGHT IN THE OUTFIELD: The Gonzaga University outfield this season will feature a handful of new faces in 2007, with four newcomers battling it out for the starting three positions. Transfers Ben Greenslitt and Michael Rhodes, redshirt Mark Castellitto and freshman Mark Ellis are all expected to vie for time in the outfield. Rhodes is the frontrunner for the starting center field job, while right field will feature Greenslitt. The starting nod in left field is expected to be a dogfight between Ellis and Castellitto. Between the two, whoever doesn't not earn a spot in the outfield, is expected to step into the designated hitter role.
ALL-WEST COAST CONFERENCE HONORS: Three returning members of the 2006 Gonzaga University baseball team earned All-West Coast Conference honors last season. Darin Holcomb and Ryan Wiegand earned second team honors, while Brandon Harmon received All-WCC honorable mention accolades. Wiegand was also named to the WCC All-Freshman team. Holcomb was among the conference's top run producers last season, leading the Zags with 57 runs batted in, which tied for the seventh best single-season effort in program history. The 57 RBI ranked second in the WCC. Wiegand ranked third on the team with a .330 average while connecting for 15 doubles and 45 RBI. Harmon led Gonzaga pitchers last season with 26 appearances, the third highest total by a Bulldog pitcher in school history. He made two starts compiling a 2-2 record with a 3.25 earned run average and three saves
WIEGAND NAMED FRESHMAN ALL-AMERICAN: Gonzaga Unviersity's Ryan Wiegand was named to the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America baseball team as selected by Collegiate Baseball in 2006. As a freshman, Wiegand ranked third on the team with a .300 average hitting one home run with 45 runs batted in. He started 52 of 53 games last season and was a second team All-West Coast Conference honoree ranking second among WCC freshmen for batting average. Wiegand became the sixth Gonzaga player to earn freshman All-American honors and the first since the 2002 season.
NEWCOMERS LEAD CANADA TO BRONZE: Mark Ellis and Cory Hall, a pair of freshman on the Gonzaga University baseball team, helped lead the Canadian Junior National team to a bronze medal last summer at the 2006 World Junior AAA Championships in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba. Hall pitched seven innings of relief allowing two runs on eight hits while posting five strikeouts earning a 6-2 win over Mexico for third place. For the tournament, Hall posted a 3-1 recording with a 1.13 earned run average and 15 strikeouts. Ellis, Canada's starting third baseman, posted a .207 average with one double and two runs batted in. The bronze medal was Canada's fifth-ever medal at the World Junior AAA Championships and it's first medal since 1997.
TRIO NAMED TO WCC 40th ANIVERSITY TEAM: Three former Gonzaga University baseball standouts were named to the West Coast Conference/Rawlings 40th Anniversary Baseball Team. Former Bulldogs Jason Bay, Nate Gold and Barry Matthews were named to the ceremonial team that consists of 40 of the top players that have graced WCC baseball diamonds over the past four decades. Bay, the 2004 National League Rookie of the Year, compiled a .374 career average with 125 runs, 152 hits, 24 doubles, 35 home runs and 121 runs batted in as a Bulldog. Gold, the WCC single-season home run champion, hit a league-record and NCAA leading 33 long balls in the 2002 season. The 2002 WCC Player of the Year posted a .307 career average with 147 hits, 95 runs, 46 home runs and 124 RBI. Matthews was one of the top two-way players in Gonzaga history. At the plate, Matthews compiled a .332 career average with 144 runs, 207 hits, 29 home runs and 130 RBI. On the mound, he posted a 21-12 career record, registering a 5.01 earned run average with 11 complete games, 284 innings pitched and 215 strikeouts.
ZAGS PICKED TO FINISH FIFTH: The Gonzaga University baseball team has been selected to finish fifth in the 2007 West Coast Conference preseason poll, as voted on by the conference's head coaches. Pepperdine University, who has been ranked as high as No. 19 in preseason polls, received six first place votes and a total of 47 points to edge out the University of San Diego and 2006 WCC regular season co-champion University of San Francisco for first place. The Toreros and Dons tied for second place with 41 points apiece, with each team garnering a first place vote. Loyola Marymount University checked in at fourth with 28 points, just edging out the Zags, who received 25 points. Santa Clara University was tabbed for a sixth place finish with 19 points, while Saint Mary's College and the University of Portland were picked to finish seventh and eighth with 16 and eight points, respectively.