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2008 WCC Baseball Preview

Feb. 12, 2008

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WCC Preseason Notes

San Diego Picked To Repeat In 2008 WCC Preseason Poll
San Diego was chosen to repeat as West Coast Conference champion in the 2008 preseason baseball poll, as selected by conference coaches. The Toreros, who have been ranked as high as No. 5 in the national preseason polls, received the maximum number of points, garnering all seven possible first place votes and 49 overall points to take first place in the listing. San Diego is coming off the most successful season in program history, as the Toreros compiled a 43-18 overall record en route to the WCC crown in 2007. Pepperdine was picked second with 42 overall points, while Santa Clara received the remaining first place vote and checked in at No. 3 in the poll with 32 points. LMU edged out Gonzaga for the fourth place spot, as the Lions received 29 points and the Zags garnered 28 points to grab the No. 5 spot. San Francisco was tabbed for a sixth place finish with 24 points, while Portland and Saint Mary's were picked to finish seventh and eighth with 12 points and eight points, respectively.

WCC Baseball Preseason Poll
1. San Diego - 49 (7)
2.Pepperdine - 42
3.Santa Clara - 32 (1)
4.LMU - 29
5.Gonzaga - 28
6.San Francisco - 24
7.Portland - 12
8.Saint Mary's - 8
(first place votes)

WCC Standouts Named To Wallace Award Watch List
Six WCC baseball players were named to the watch list for the Brooks Wallace Award, as announced by the College Baseball Foundation. The honor is presented annually to the nation's top collegiate baseball player, and will be awarded on July 3, 2008. San Diego leads the way for WCC teams, as the defending conference champion placed three players on the list. Torero AJ Griffin joined USD Juniors Brian Matusz and Josh Romanski, while Pepperdine pitcher Brett Hunter was also placed among those on the watch list. Saint Mary's sophomore Anthony Aliotti was also named, and Santa Clara sophomore Tommy Medica rounds out the players tabbed from the WCC. Below is a listing of WCC players on the preseason watch list and their key statistics from the 2007 season.

Four WCC Players Suit Up For Team USA
A record four WCC players competed for the USA Collegiate National Team last summer. San Diego All-Americans Brian Matusz and Josh Romanski became the first Toreros to represent the USA, and they were joined by Pepperdine right-hander Brett Hunter and Santa Clara catcher Tommy Medica on the squad. The team played 37 games during a 57-day summer tour, capturing the silver medal at the Pan-American Games in Brazil.

San Francisco's Giarratano Named To USA Baseball Staff
San Francisco Head Coach Nino Giarratano was named as an assistant coach for the 2008 USA Collegiate National Team that will compete this summer. Giarratano, in his 10th year on the Hilltop, becomes the third active West Coast Conference skipper to serve on the Team USA staff. LMU's Frank Cruz (2000) and Gonzaga's Mark Machtolf (2006) have previously served as assistants, while Cruz served as the Team USA Head Coach in 2004.

The 2007 WCC Baseball Season At A Glance
The WCC closed out another outstanding campaign with San Diego and Pepperdine earning selection for NCAA Tournament play, marking the second straight season and just the seventh time in league history that multiple teams from the WCC earned bids ... The Toreros enjoyed the finest season in program history, setting a USD record with 43 wins and hosting an NCAA Regional for the first time. It marked the second straight year that a WCC team has hosted an NCAA Regional, following Pepperdine in 2006, and the Toreros became the first program from the conference to earn a national seed (No. 8) in the NCAA Tournament ... Five WCC players earned All-American honors following the 2007 season, including USD southpaw Brian Matusz, who was named first team All-American by the NCBWA ... Gonzaga eclipsed the 30-win mark for the first time since 1990, and captured a spot in the WCC Championship Series after recording its highest-ever finish in WCC play ... Pepperdine earned an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament, making its fifth straight postseason appearance after being ranked as high as No. 7 during the regular season ... A record 27 WCC players were selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft, snapping the record of 25 set in 2006 ... Aaron Poreda became the highest draft pick from the USF campus after being selected 25th overall by the Chicago White Sox.

WCC Team Notes

Gonzaga Bulldogs (33-25/15-6 WCC)
Gonzaga notched a second place finish in the WCC last season with a 15-6 mark, and appeared in the WCC Championship Series for the first time since 2001 ... The Zags narrowly missed out on postseason selection after posting a 33-25 overall record, which marked the first time since 1990 that GU has collected 30 wins ... Gonzaga welcomes back a pair of All-WCC first team selections in senior Shawn Wayt and junior Ryan Wiegand ... Wayt ranked second on the team with a .341 batting average, while Wiegand tied for the team lead with six home runs and paced the squad with 45 RBI.

Loyola Marymount Lions (22-33-1/9-12 WCC)
Loyola Marymount closed out the 2007 campaign with a 22-33-1 overall mark, and a 9-12 record in WCC play to finish tied for fourth place in the conference ... Outfielder Angelo Songco was tabbed for WCC Freshman of the Year honors after batting .321 and clubbing a conference-high 22 doubles, the eighth-highest single-season total in LMU program history ... Also returning is senior catcher Sean Dovel, who led the team with six home runs last season, and senior closer Andy Beal, who posted a 2-1 mark with five saves in 18 appearances a year ago.

Pepperdine Waves (35-22/14-7 WCC)
The Waves earned a bid to the postseason for the fifth straight year in 2007 after posting a 35-22 overall record ... Three players that batted over .320 last season return for the Waves, as infielder Chase d'Arnaud (.331) and outfielders Donald Brown (.328) and Eric Thames (.320) all return to the Pepperdine lineup ... Thames drove in a team-high 44 runs last season, and legged out a conference-leading five triples on the year ... Junior right-hander Brett Hunter was named to the Wallace Award preseason watch list after striking out 76 batters in 82.1 innings last season.

Portland Pilots (21-30/7-14 WCC)
The Pilots notched a 21-30 overall record in 2007, marking the program's highest win total since posting 24 victories in 2002 ... Southpaw David Gruener will anchor the Portland rotation this season after the All-WCC honorable mention selection posted a 3-5 record with a 3.51 ERA in 2007 ... Gruener also tossed five complete games ... The Portland lineup returns its top hitter and top run producer from a year ago, as junior first baseman Chase Powell batted a team-high .321, and senior outfielder Cory Wiltshire drove in a team-best 26 runs in 2007.

Saint Mary's Gaels (21-29-1/3-18 WCC)
The Gaels posted a 21-29-1 overall record, and a 3-18 mark in conference play last season ... A pair of Freshman All-Americans return for Saint Mary's this season, as Anthony Aliotti and Randy Wells were tabbed for honors in 2007 ... Aliotti, one of the top two-way players in the WCC, batted .321 and posted a 6-4 mark in 12 mound appearances, while Wells batted a team-high .354 as a freshman ... Wells became the first SMC freshman since 2003 to lead the team in batting ... Junior Joel Staples also returns after batting .311 and hitting a team-high six home runs in 2007.

San Diego Toreros (43-18/18-3 WCC)
San Diego capped the most successful season in program history by hosting a regional as the No. 8 national seed last season ... The Toreros set a program record for victories, posting a 43-18 mark en route to the WCC title ... The entire weekend rotation returns from last year, as senior Matt Couch returns along with preseason All-Americans Brian Matusz and Josh Romanski ... Matusz struck out 163 batters a year ago, marking the second highest single-season total in WCC history ... Four starters that batted over .300 in 2007 also return, led by two-way standout Romanski (.335).

San Francisco Dons (27-28/9-12 WCC)
San Francisco tied for fourth place in the WCC last season, posting a 27-28 overall record and a 9-12 mark in WCC play ... The Dons led the conference in steals for the fourth straight season, swiping a league-high 85 bases during the 2007 campaign ... Senior infielder Joey Railey returns to the USF lineup after pounding out a team-high 72 hits, and stealing 22 bases to rank second on the team ... First team All-WCC selection Mitchell Bialosky is also back for his senior season, after batting .339 and driving in a team-high 39 runs last year.

Santa Clara Broncos (27-29/9-12 WCC)
The Broncos notched a 27-29 record last season, and posted a 9-12 league mark ... Santa Clara brings back plenty of experienced arms as starters Matt Wickswat (7-5, 3.41), Nate Garcia (5-6, 5.06), and Donald Brandt (4-2, 4.12) all return in addition to senior closer Jeff Lombard, who saved 10 games in 2007 ... Catcher Tommy Medica earned Freshman All-American honors after batting .373 to lead the WCC last year ... Senior Gabe Alcantar (.343) returns at third base, and senior first baseman Ryan Conan, who clubbed eight home runs and collected 50 RBI in 2007, is one of the league's top returning bats.