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WCC Baseball Weekly Notes - 2/19

Feb. 19, 2008

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Baseball Season Begins This Week

The 2008 baseball season opens this week, and the new year promises to be another strong campaign for the West Coast Conference. A pair of WCC teams are ranked heading into the season, with San Diego being ranked as high as No. 5 in the preseason polls. Pepperdine has been ranked as high as No. 29, while six conference players were named to the Wallace Award watch list for the upcoming season. In all, 11 first team All-WCC selections from 2007 return to conference diamonds this spring.

With the NCAA baseball uniform start date implemented this year, all eight league teams will begin the new season with games this weekend. Gonzaga travels to Oklahoma State for a series, while LMU begins the new year at Sacramento State. Pepperdine hosts Wake Forest, and Portland hosts BYU for three games before meeting George Fox. Saint Mary's takes on Towson at home, while San Diego battles cross-town rival San Diego State. San Francisco opens the new campaign in Hawaii, and Santa Clara will face Utah Valley and Kansas State at home.

The West Coast Conference is coming off of another stellar campaign, as multiple teams (Pepperdine and San Diego) earned postseason bids for the second straight season in 2007, marking just the seventh time in league history that multiple teams have earned selection. San Diego hosted a regional as the No. 8 national seed in 2007, marking the second straight season that a WCC team has hosted an NCAA Regional.

Upcoming Games

Feb. 22
Gonzaga at Oklahoma State - 2:00 PM
LMU at Sacramento State - 2:00 PM
Wake Forest at Pepperdine - 2:00 PM
BYU at Portland - 2:00 PM
Towson at Saint Mary's - 2:00 PM
San Francisco at Hawaii - 4:35 PM
San Diego at San Diego State - 6:00 PM
Utah Valley at Santa Clara - 6:00 PM

Feb. 23
Wake Forest at Pepperdine (DH) - 10:30 AM/TBA
LMU at Sacramento State (DH) - 11 AM/2 PM
Gonzaga at Oklahoma State (DH) - 11 AM/2 PM
BYU at Portland (DH) - 11 AM/2 PM
Towson at Saint Mary's (DH) - 11 AM/3 PM
San Francisco at Hawaii (DH) - 11 AM/2 PM
San Diego State at San Diego - 1:00 PM
Kansas State at Santa Clara (DH) - 1 PM/TBA
San Diego at San Diego State - 7:00 PM

Feb. 24
Gonzaga at Oklahoma State - 11:00 AM
San Francisco at Hawaii - 11:05 AM
Towson at Saint Mary's - 12:00 PM
LMU at Sacramento State - 1:00 PM
Wake Forest at Pepperdine - 1:00 PM
George Fox at Portland - 1:00 PM
San Diego State at San Diego - 1:00 PM
Utah Valley at Santa Clara - 1:00 PM

Around The WCC

WCC Teams Garner Preseason Rankings
San Diego and Pepperdine were each listed among the nation's elite heading into the 2008 campaign. The Toreros were ranked No. 7 and Pepperdine checked in at No. 29 in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll, while the Toreros were listed at No. 9 in both the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and the USA Today/ESPN Coaches polls. The Waves checked in at No. 32 in the NCBWA poll, and both Gonzaga and Santa Clara received votes in the Collegiate Baseball listing.

WCC's Preseason All-Americans
Four WCC standouts were tabbed for 2008 preseason All-American honors, with all four earning first team recognition. San Diego's Brian Matusz, AJ Griffin, and Josh Romanski were named first team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, while Pepperdine right-hander Brett Hunter earned first team All-American recognition from Baseball America. Matusz is a consensus first team All-American, receiving honors from Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), and Rivals.com.

Three WCC Hurlers Named To Stopper Of The Year Watch List
Three WCC pitchers were among the 40 players named to the initial watch list for the fourth annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Stopper of the Year Award, the association announced Thursday. San Diego preseason All-American AJ Griffin and Santa Clara right-handers Jeff Lombard and Mark Willinsky were each named to the preseason watch list for the award, which is presented to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball. Santa Clara joins Arizona as the only two programs with multiple players named to the list.

WCC Team Notes

Gonzaga Bulldogs (0-0 / 0-0 WCC)
- Gonzaga posted a 33-25 overall record last season, and a 15-6 mark in conference play en route to the program's first appearance in the WCC Championship Series since 2001.

- The Zags narrowly missed out on selection to the NCAA Tournament after posting 30 wins for the first time since 1990, and notching the program's highest-ever regular season finish since joining the WCC for baseball in 1996.

- First team All-WCC selections Shawn Wayt (.341) and Ryan Wiegand (.338) highlight the Gonzaga returners, along with senior right-hander Brandon Harmon, who posted a 6-8 mark and tied for the conference lead with six complete games a year ago.

- Gonzaga opens the new season on the road, as the Zags travel to No. 27 ranked Oklahoma State for a four-game series this weekend.

Loyola Marymount Lions (0-0 / 0-0 WCC)
- The Lions wrapped up the 2007 season with a 22-23-1 overall mark, and a 9-12 record in WCC play to finish in a three-way tie for fourth place in the conference.

- WCC Freshman of the Year and first team All-WCC selection Angelo Songco returns for LMU after clubbing a league-high 22 doubles during the 2007 campaign, and driving in a team-high 33 runs.

- Senior catcher Sean Dovel, who led the team with six home runs last season, and senior infielder Michael Glomb (.283) return to the LMU lineup, while senior closer Andy Beal returns after nailing down five saves a year ago.

- The Lions begin the 2008 campaign in Northern California, traveling to Sacramento State for four games this weekend.

Pepperdine Waves (0-0 / 0-0 WCC)
- The Waves earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight season, and snagged and at-large bid for the first time since 2003, after posting a 35-20 overall record last season.

- A pair of weekend starters return for the Waves, as junior right-hander Brett Hunter and junior left-hander Robert Dickmann return to the rotation. Hunter was named first team preseason All-American after striking out 76 batters in 82.1 innings last season, while Dickmann posted a 6-4 record in 17 starts for the 2007 Waves.

- Three players that batted over .320 last season return for Pepperdine, as infielder Chase d'Arnaud (.331) and outfielders Donald Brown (.328) and Eric Thames (.320) all return.

- Pepperdine opens the new season at home with a four-game set against Wake Forest this weekend.

Portland Pilots (0-0 / 0-0 WCC)
- Portland closed out the season with a 21-30 overall record and a 7-14 mark in conference play. The Pilots' overall win total marked the program's highest since posting 24 victories in 2002.

- David Gruener looks to anchor the Portland rotation along with Ari Ronick, who had his 2007 season cut short due to injury. Gruener earned All-WCC honorable mention honors after posting a 3-5 record with a 3.51 ERA, while Ronick notched a 3.05 ERA in eight appearances.

- Infielder Chase Powell returns after leading the team with a .321 batting average last season, while outfielder Cory Wiltshire also returns after collecting a team-high 26 RBI in 2007.

- The Pilots will open the season at home for the first time since 2001 when they host BYU for four games this weekend.

Saint Mary's Gaels (0-0 / 0-0 WCC)
- Saint Mary's closed out the 2007 season with a 21-29-1 overall record, and a 3-18 mark in conference play.

- A pair of freshman All-Americans return for the Gaels, as Anthony Aliotti and Randy Wells were tabbed for honors following the 2007 season. Aliotti emerged as one of the top two-way players in the WCC, hitting at a .320 clip and going 6-4 in 12 mound appearances, while Wells paced the team with a .354 batting average as a freshman.

- Saint Mary's top three run producers from last year return. Aliotti and Wells tied for the team lead with 37 RBI, while junior Joel Staples ranked third on the team with 35 RBI despite missing the final portion of the season due to injury.

- The Gaels welcome Towson to Louis Guisto Field for a four-game season-opening series this weekend.

San Diego Toreros (0-0 / 0-0 WCC)
- San Diego enjoyed a record-setting 2007 season, posting a 43-18 overall record en route to the program's third WCC title. The Toreros received a No. 8 national seed in the NCAA Tournament, and hosted a regional for the first time.

- Brian Matusz put together a record-setting sophomore season, as the left-hander posted a 10-3 mark in 18 starts and broke the San Diego single-season record for strikeouts with 163.

- The entire USD weekend rotation returns from a year ago, as Matusz is joined by junior left-hander Josh Romanski (9-1, 3.05) and senior right-hander Matt Couch (9-2, 3.60) on the staff.

- The Toreros open the new season with four games against cross-town rival San Diego State this weekend.

San Francisco Dons (0-0 / 0-0 WCC)
- San Francisco wrapped up the 2007 season with a 27-28 overall mark and a 9-12 record in conference play to finish tied for fourth place in the WCC.

- Senior Mitchell Bialosky batted .339 and drove in a team-high 39 runs en route to first team All-WCC honors last season. The first baseman also saw time on the mound for the Dons, making eight mound appearances and striking out 28 batters in 30 innings of work.

- Tavo Hall returns for his senior year at shortstop after having his 2007 season cut short due to an arm injury. Hall, who still managed to swipe 13 bases on the year, became the first student-athlete in over two decades to be named class valedictorian at USF last spring.

- The Dons will play the first eight games of the 2008 season on the road, beginning with a four-game set at Hawaii this weekend.

Santa Clara Broncos (0-0 / 0-0 WCC)
- Santa Clara finished the season with a 27-29 overall record, and a 9-12 mark in WCC action to finish the conference season tied for fourth place.

- Tommy Medica became the second straight Bronco to lead the conference in batting last season, as the catcher hit a league-high .373 en route to first team All-WCC and Freshman All-American honors.

- Medica was one of four Broncos to earn WCC All-Freshman Team honors, being joined by pitchers Nate Garcia, Steve Kalush, and Alex Rivers on the squad. Seven Santa Clara newcomers have been named All-Freshman over the last two seasons, more than any other conference program.

- The Broncos begin the new year at home, facing Utah Valley (2/22 & 2/24) and Kansas State (2/23) in a double-header this weekend.