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Friday Marks the Opening Day for the 2009 WCC Baseball Season

Feb. 19, 2009

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THE 2009 SEASON GETS UNDERWAY THIS WEEKEND
The 2009 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. 11 in the preseason polls. Pepperdine has been ranked as high as No. 8, while eight conference players were named to the Wallace Award watch list for the upcoming season. In all, 18 first team All-WCC selections from 2008 return to conference diamonds this spring.

With the NCAA baseball uniform start date implemented last year, all eight league teams will begin the new season with games this weekend. Gonzaga travels to Phoenix, AZ for the Grand Canyon Tournament, while LMU begins the new year hosting Utah. Pepperdine hosts Cal State Northridge, and Portland hosts Utah Valley for three games. Saint Mary's takes on Oregon at home, while San Diego will participate in the MLB Urban Youth Tournament. San Francisco opens the new campaign with a four game series at UT-San Antonio, and Santa Clara will play in the NC State Tournament.

The West Coast Conference is coming off of another stellar campaign, as multiple teams (Pepperdine and San Diego) earned postseason bids for the third straight season in 2008, marking just the eighth time in league history that multiple teams have earned selection. San Diego lost to eventual College World Series Champion Fresno State in the championship game of its regional, while Pepperdine lost in its regional final to host Stanford.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

All Times PST

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 20
TEAMS LOCATION
TIME
RECAP
Santa Clara vs. Xavier Raleigh, NC
NC State Tournament
8:00 AM
Gonzaga vs. Nevada Phoenix, AZ
Grand Canyon Tournament
2:00 PM
Cal State Northridge at Pepperdine Malibu, CA
2:00 PM
Oregon at Saint Mary's Moraga, CA
2:00 PM
Utah at LMU Los Angeles, CA
2:00 PM
Utah Valley at Portland Portland, OR
2:00 PM
San Francisco at UT-San Antonio San Antonio, TX
2:00 PM
San Diego vs. Southern Compton, CA
MLB Urban Youth Tournament
6:00 PM
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21
TEAMS LOCATION
TIME
RECAP
Santa Clara vs. Rhode Island Raleigh, NC
NC State Tournament
8:00 AM
Oregon at Saint Mary's Moraga, CA
(DH) 11:00 AM, TBA
Utah at LMU Los Angeles, CA
(DH) 11:00 AM, TBA
San Francisco at UT-San Antonio San Antonio, TX
(DH) 12:00 PM, TBA
Pepperdine at Cal State Northridge Northridge, CA
1:00 PM
San Diego vs. Bethune Cookman Compton, CA
MLB Urban Youth Tournament
1:00 PM
Utah Valley at Portland Portland, OR
(DH) 11:00 AM, TBA
Gonzaga vs. Missouri Phoenix, AZ
Grand Canyon Tournament
2:00 PM
Gonzaga vs. Nevada Phoenix, AZ
Grand Canyon Tournament
7:00 PM
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 22
TEAMS LOCATION
TIME
RECAP
San Francisco at UT-San Antonio San Antonio, TX 11:00 AM
Santa Clara at North Carolina State Raleigh, NC
NC State Tournament
12:00 PM
Cal State Northridge at Pepperdine Malibu, CA
1:00 PM
Oregon at Saint Mary's Moraga, CA
1:00 PM
Utah at LMU Los Angeles, CA
1:00 PM
Gonzaga vs. Missouri Phoenix, AZ
Grand Canyon Tournament
1:00 PM
San Diego vs. San Diego State Compton, CA
MLB Urban Youth Tournament
1:00 PM

AROUND THE WCC
WCC Players of the Week
Each week, the West Coast Conference will select a Player of the Week and Pitcher of the Week based on the previous week's performances. WCC baseball Player and Pitcher of the Week selections will begin on Monday, February 23.

WCC Teams Garner Preseason Rankings
San Diego and Pepperdine were each listed among the nation's elite in numerous rankings heading into the 2009 campaign. The Waves were ranked No. 8 and the Toreros checked in at No. 15 in the Rivals.com rankings. The Toreros came in at No. 11, while the Waves finished 17th by Baseball America. The USA Today/ESPN poll had the Toreros at No. 15, while the Waves came in at No. 21. The Toreros finished 18th in the NCBWA poll, while the Waves were ranked No. 21.

San Diego
Baseball America - No. 11
USA TODAY/ESPN - No. 15
Rivals.com - No. 15
Collegiate Baseball - No. 17
Pingbaseball.com - No. 17
NCBWA - No. 18

Pepperdine
Rivals.com - No. 8
Pingbaseball.com - No. 12
Baseball America - No. 17
USA TODAY/ESPN - No. 21
NCBWA - No. 21
Collegiate Baseball - No. 23

WCC's Preseason All-Americans
Seven WCC standouts were tabbed for 2009 preseason All-American honors, with two earning first team recognition. San Diego's AJ Griffin earned first team honors by the NCBWA and third team honors by Collegiate Baseball, while teammate Victor Sanchez earned third team honors by Baseball America. Joining Griffin with first team honors is Pepperdine's Bryce Mendonca, who was recognized by Collegiate Baseball. Also recognized by Collegiate Baseball were Santa Clara's Thain Simon with second team honors and Tommy Medica with third team honors. Joining Medica on the third team were Pepperdine's Nick Gaudi and Saint Mary's Kyle Jensen.

Four WCC Hurlers Named To Stopper Of The Year Watch List
Four 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 Tuesday. Gonzaga RHP Cody Martin, Pepperdine RHP Nick Gaudi, San Diego RHP AJ Griffin, and Santa Clara right hander Thain Simon were each named to the preseason watch list for the award, which is presented to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball. The West Coast Conference enjoyed the second highest amount of players from any conference to be named to the list, following the ACC with nine. The Big 12 also placed four, while the SEC and Pac-10 had three each.

WCC Standouts Named To Wallace Award Watch List
Eight WCC players headline the 2009 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List. The Wallace Award is presented annually to the nation's top collegiate baseball player in conjunction with the College Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. The 2009 award banquet will be at 7 p.m., Thursday, July 2, in the United Spirit Arena on the campus of Texas Tech University.

San Diego led the way with junior All-American closer AJ Griffin along with sophomore right-hander Kyle Blair and sophomore lefty Sammy Solis. Also on the list from the WCC were senior Ryan Wheeler of Loyola Marymount, sophomore Riley Henricks of Portland, sophomore Thain Simon of Santa Clara, junior Kyle Jensen of Saint Mary's, and sophomore Matt Lujan of San Francisco.

Player, School              2008 Key StatsKyle Blair, USD             3.86 ERA, 99 SOA.J. Griffin, USD           2.15 ERA, 14 SVRiley Henricks, POR         .301, 69 hits, 8 HRKyle Jensen, SMC            .421, 82 hits, 13 HRMatt Lujan, USF             3.19 ERA, 7 winsThain Simon, SCU            2.59 ERA, 9 winsSammy Solis, USD            3.83 ERA, 42 SORyan Wheeler, LMU           .345, 70 hits, 20 2B

LMU Names Jason Gill Head Coach
Jason Gill begins his first year at the helm of the LMU baseball program after serving as an assistant coach for the Lions in 1999 and 2000. Gill, who has spent the last four years working under head coach George Horton at Oregon and Cal State Fullerton, returns to the bluff to become the seventh head coach of the Lions' program. Overall, Coach Gill has been to Omaha four times as a player and a coach, to the postseason a total of nine times, coached four Conference Players of the Year, and has seen 14 of his student-athletes make the Major Leagues.

San Diego and Pepperdine Picked To Finish First In 2009 WCC Preseason Poll
San Diego and Pepperdine were chosen to finish as West Coast Conference champions in the 2009 preseason baseball poll, as selected by conference coaches. The Toreros, who have been ranked as high as No. 11 in the national preseason polls, received the same amount of points as Pepperdine, but garnered one more first place vote. San Diego is coming off the most successful season in program history, as the Toreros compiled a 44-17 overall record en route to the WCC crown in 2008. Pepperdine earned three first place votes and was picked second with 45 overall points, while Santa Clara checked in at No. 3 in the poll with 32 points. Gonzaga nabbed the last first place vote, receiving 30 points to come in at No. 4. San Francisco, off a fourth place finish from last year, was picked to finish No. 5, with 26 points. LMU, under first year Head Coach Jason Gill, is expected to finish sixth, with 20 points. Saint Mary's and Portland round out this year's preseason poll, earning 14 and nine points respectively.

WCC Baseball Preseason Poll
1. San Diego - 45 (4)
Pepperdine - 45 (3)
3. Santa Clara - 35
4. Gonzaga - 30 (1)
5. San Francisco - 26
6. LMU - 20
7. Saint Mary's - 14
8. Portland - 9
(first place votes)


WCC TEAM NOTES

SCHOOL TEAM NOTES

Overall Record: 0-0
WCC Record: 0-0
  • Gonzaga notched a 30-23 overall record in 2008, with a 10-10 record in conference play.

  • It was the first time the Zags finished back-to-back seasons with 30 wins since joining the WCC in 1996.

  • Gonzaga welcomes back its top two power hitters in senior 1B Ryan Wiegand (.365, 11 HR) and junior OF Mark Castellitto (.315, 8 HR).

  • The Zags also return first team All-WCC member Drew Heid (JR., OF), who was fifth in the conference with a .386 average, and 2008 NCBWA second team Freshman All-American Cody Martin (SO., RHP), who was third in the WCC with nine saves on the year.

  • Gonzaga opens the new season at the Grand Canyon Tournament in Phoenix, AZ.
  • Overall Record: 0-0
    WCC Record: 0-0
  • Loyola Marymount closed out the 2008 campaign with a 23-32 overall mark, and a 7-14 record in WCC play.

  • This marks the first year for new Head Coach Jason Gill after he spent time as an assistant for LMU in 1999 and 2000.

  • The Lions return a number of talented players including first team All-WCC member Ryan Wheeler (JR., 1B), who led the WCC with 20 doubles and was named to this year's Brooks Wallace Award watch list.

  • Also returning is first team All-WCC member Angelo Songco (JR., OF), who tied for the league lead in home runs with 15 on the year and led the team in batting average at .356.

  • The Lions begin the 2009 campaign at home with a four game series against Utah.
  • Overall Record: 0-0
    WCC Record: 0-0
  • The Waves earned a bid to the postseason for the sixth straight year in 2008 after posting a 38-21 overall record, and finishing in second place in the conference standings. The Waves, ranked No. 8 in the Rivals.com preseason top 25, were chosen to finish first with San Diego in this year's WCC preseason poll.

  • The Waves led the league in runs scored, RBI, doubles, triples, walks, and stolen bases and return four All-WCC first team members.

  • Senior RHP Nick Gaudi led the WCC in saves (15) and was named a second-team preseason All-American by the NCBWA, senior 3B Bryce Mendonca led the team with 77 hits, while Ryan Heroy (SR., 1B) and Nathan Newman (SR., RHP) round out the top returners.

  • Pepperdine opens the new season at with a three game series against Cal State Northridge, with the first and third games at home.
  • Overall Record: 0-0
    WCC Record: 0-0
  • The Pilots notched a 21-33 overall record in 2008, tying the program's highest win total since posting 24 victories in 2002.

  • Sophomore SS Riley Henricks headlines the list of returnees for Portland as he led the team with 69 hits and was one of only three freshmen from last year to make All-WCC first team and was named to this year's Brooks Wallace Award watch list.

  • Senior OF Bryant Kraus led the team in hitting with .313 average.

  • Three seniors lead the pitching staff in Mark Triolo, who led the team with five wins, Matthew Lange, sixth in the WCC in ERA at 2.85, and Brennan Thorpe.

  • The Pilots will open the season with a three game homestand against Utah Valley.
  • Overall Record: 0-0
    WCC Record: 0-0
  • The Gaels posted a 26-26-1 overall record, and a 8-13 mark in conference play last season.

  • Saint Mary's will look to first team All-WCC member Kyle Jensen (JR., OF) to lead the offense as he led the league in batting average (.421) and was second in hits (82).

  • Jensen was also named to this year's Brooks Wallace Award watch list as well a third team All-American by Collegiate Baseball.

  • Adding to the lineup will be sophomore OF Justin Fazio, a member of last year's All-WCC freshman team, who was seventh in the league in batting average at .379.

  • The Gaels welcome Oregon to Louis Guisto Field for a four-game season-opening series this weekend.
  • Overall Record: 0-0
    WCC Record: 0-0
  • San Diego set a school record for wins with a 44-17 record en route to its second straight WCC title and its fifth NCAA tournament appearance in the last six seasons.

  • The Toreros have been ranked in numerous preseason top 25 polls and as high as No. 11 by Baseball America and return three players named to the Brooks Wallace Award watch list.

  • A.J. Griffin (JR., RHP) has also been named an NCBWA first team pre-season All-American.

  • Joining Griffin on the watch list are Sammy Solis (SO., LHP) and Kyle Blair (SO., RHP), who round out one of the most talented pitching staffs in the WCC.

  • The Toreros open the season at the MLB Urban Youth Academy Tourn. in Compton, CA.
  • Overall Record: 0-0
    WCC Record: 0-0
  • San Francisco placed fourth in the WCC last season, posting a 31-26 overall record and a 12-9 mark in WCC play.

  • The Dons return a WCC best 14 position players headlined by sophomore LHP Matt Lujan, who was eighth in the league in ERA as a freshman (3.19) and was named to this year's Brooks Wallace Award watch list.

  • Also looking to make an impact this year will be junior C Ryan Lipkin, who ranked sixth in the conference in batting average at .384 and sophomore OF Connor Bernatz, who was named to last year's All-WCC freshman team.

  • The Dons will play the first 18 games of the 2009 season on the road, beginning with a four-game set at the University of Texas-San Antonio this weekend.
  • Overall Record: 0-0
    WCC Record: 0-0
  • The Broncos had their best season since 1997, when they won 41 games, notching a 33-22 overall record and a 13-8 mark in WCC play.

  • Santa Clara led the league in batting average, hits, and homeruns and received votes in this year's NCBWA preseason poll.

  • Reigning WCC Freshman of the Year Thain Simon returns and was named to this year's Brooks Wallace Award watch list as well as a second team pre-season All-American by Collegiate Baseball. Joining Simon as a pre-season All-American is Tommy Medica (JR., C), named to the third team by Collegiate Baseball. Also returning are members of last year's WCC All-First team in Medica, Brady Fuerst (SR., 2B), Nate Garcia (SO., RHP) and Jon Karcich (JR., SS).

  • The Broncos begin the new year at the NC State Tournament in Raleigh, North Carolina, where they will face Xavier, Rhode Island, and host NC State.