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Bulldogs Battle For Banana Belt Tournament Title

Feb. 27, 2007

SPOKANE, Wash. -

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Games 14-17
Banana Belt Tournament
Harris Field - Lewiston, Idaho
Gonzaga vs. Air Force
Thursday, March 1, 11 a.m.
Gonzaga vs. Utah Valley State
Friday, March 2, 11 a.m.
Gonzaga vs. Southern Utah
Saturday, March 3, 4 p.m.
Gonzaga vs. Lewis-Clark State
Sunday, March 4, 2 p.m.

THIS WEEKEND: This weekend Gonzaga University will participate in the Banana Belt Tournament in Lewiston, Idaho. The Zags will face the Air Force Academy, Utah Valley State College, Southern Utah University and Lewis-Clark State College as part of the four-day tournament for the Bulldogs. This season marks the tenth and fourth consecutive, appearance at the tournament. Last season in Lewiston, Gonzaga went 2-1, posting wins over Chicago State University and Washington State University. This weekend will mark the first time the Zags have played both Air Force and Southern Utah in program history. Gonzaga maintains a 5-0 all-time edge over Utah Valley State and LCSC holds a 57-50-1 advantage over the Bulldogs all-time.

LAST WEEKEND: The Gonzaga University baseball continued tournament play last weekend by participating in the Southwest Diamond Classic in Arlington, Texas. The Zags captured the tournament title finishing the event with a 2-1 record. The University of Houston and Missouri State University also finished with 2-1 records, but Gonzaga was awarded the title based on run differential. Thursday, Gonzaga defeated the University of Texas-Arlington in the opening game 12-1 and was led by Mark Castellitto who went 4-for-5 while setting a program record with three doubles. Friday the Bulldogs rallied in the ninth inning but it wasn't enough as the Zags fell to the University of Texas-San Antonio 4-3. Saturday Gonzaga wrapped up the tournament posting a 6-4 victory over host Dallas-Baptist University. Sunday, in a game not affiliated with the tournament, the Bulldogs came from behind to defeat Missouri State 8-7 in 10 innings.

ON DECK: Next week, March 8-10, Gonzaga University will travel to Provo, Utah to take on Brigham Young University in a three-game series. The first two games of the series are scheduled for first pitches at 4 p.m., PST, with the series' finale slated for Noon, PST.

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 continue with its 22 consecutive road games this weekend. Over the first month and a half of the season, the Bulldogs will travel 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 home stand before embarking on the road, once again.

SCOUTING THE FALCONS: The Air Force Academy enters the 2007 Banana Belt Tournament with a 4-7 overall record. Last weekend, the Falcons went 0-3 at the Service Academies Spring Classic, dropping a pair of games to the Naval Academy and falling to the Unviersity of Akron. Air Force is led at the plate by Jason Griggs. Griggs is hitting at a .417 clip with 15 hits, six runs scored and eight runs batted in. Griggs also leads the Falcons with eight of AFA's 31 stolen bases. Jake Petro anchors the pitching staff with a 2-1 record and a 3.38 earned run average. Thursday's match-up between Gonzaga University and Air Force will be the first of the all-time series.

SCOUTING THE WOLVERINES: Utah Valley State College travels to Lewiston with a 2-6 record, including a 2-1 record last weekend at Southern Utah University. The Wolverines are led by shortstop Eli Slesk, who is boasting a .375 batting average. Slesk also leads the team with 12 hits and four runs scored. On the mound, Marcus Moore leads UVSC with a 1.35 earned run average in relief. Starters are led by Bryan Smith, who has a 2.70 ERA and a 0-1 record in three starts. Gonzaga University  leads the all-time series with Utah Valley State 5-0. The two teams last met in 2004, with the Zags winning all four meetings that season, one of which was a 15-1 victory at the Banana Belt Tournament.

SCOUTING THE THUNDERBIRDS: The Southern Utah University Thunderbirds will play a game Tuesday before traveling to the Banana Belt Tournament. Last weekend, the Thunderbirds went 1-2 in a series with Utah Valley State College. Currently, SUU has a 2-8 overall record. The Thunderbirds are led at the plate by Cameron Nelson, who has a .357 batting average with 10 hits, four runs scored, two home runs and six runs batted in. Dustin Wittwer leads the squad on the mound with a 2.92 earned run average in three appearances, including one start. Saturday's game between Southern Utah and Gonzaga Unviersity marks the first meeting in the all-time series.

SCOUTING THE WARRIORS: Lewis-Clark State College hosts the Banana Belt Tournament this weekend with a unblemished 9-0 record with all games being played at Harris Field in Lewiston, Idaho. The NAIA National Champions are led by Beau Mills who is hitting at a .500 clip. Three LCSC pitchers with starts this season have a 0.00 earned run average while Chis Kissock, the only LCSC pitcher with two wins to his credit, has a 0.69 ERA. The Warriors lead the all-time series with Gonzaga University 57-50-1. Last season, the Zags downed LCSC 8-1 in the lone game of the season. The two schools also played at the Banana Belt Tourmanet, but the game was not counted due to the fact it was played under NAIA rules.

ZAGS CAPTURE TOURNAMENT TITLE: After going 2-1 at the Southwest Diamond Classic, the Gonzaga University baseball team captured the tournament title. Both Missouri State University and the University of Houston posted 2-1 records, but the Zags were awarded the title based on run differential. The Bulldogs posted a run differential of plus-five while UH and MSU went plus-two and plus-one, respectively. Gonzaga got the tournament off on a hot start, downing the University of Texas Arlington 12-1 before falling to the University of Texas San Antonio 4-3. Saturday, in the classic finale, Gonzaga defeated host Dallas-Baptist University 6-4.

CASTELLITTO AND HARMON NAMED TO ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Gonzaga University freshman Mark Castellitto and junior Brandon Harmon were both named to the Southwest Diamond Classic all-tournament team this past weekend. Castellitto finished the three-game event going 6-for-11 (.545) with two runs and six RBI. Harmon threw a complete game Friday as he suffered the loss against the University of Texas San Antonio. In 8.0 innings of work, the junior allowed four runs, three earned, on nine hits with three strikeouts. The two Zags become the third and fourth Bulldogs this season to be named to an all-tournament team. Shawn Wayt and Aaron McGuinness were both named to the 2007 Coca-Cola Spring Training Tournament all-tournament team.

CASTELLITTO BREAKS OUT: Redshirt freshman Mark Castellitto had a break out weekend at the Southwest Diamond Classic and against Missouri State University. For the weekend, the San Diego native went 7-for-14 (.500) with three doubles, a triple, four runs scored and seven runs batted it. The freshman opened the weekend going 4-for-5 Thursday, setting a Gonzaga record with three doubles, a triple, four RBI and two runs scored. Castellitto continued his hot streak Friday with two singles and one RBI. Sunday the freshman hit a single, was walked twice, scored a run and drove home one in the Zags' 8-7 10 inning victory over Missouri State. For the season, Castellitto is batting .316 with 12 hits, six doubles, a triple and 11 RBI.

TOURNAMENT PLAY SINCE 1990: Since the 1990 season, the Gonzaga University baseball team holds a 74-62-2 record when playing in tournaments. This season, Gonzaga has gone an even 3-3 in tournament play, including capturing the Southwest Diamond Classic Tournament Title. Last season, the Zags participated in four tournaments, compiling a 11-5 record in which they earned tournament titles at both the Texas Pan American Tournament and the Coca-Cola Spring Training Classic.

NEWCOMERS MAKE STRONG IMPACT: Five position players and one pitcher that are newcomers to this season's Gonzaga University baseball team have seen time in the starting lineups. Freshmen Mark Castellitto and Mark Ellis, as well as transfers Evan Wells, Micahel Rhodes, Ben Greenslitt and Chris Highmark have earned starts for the Zags. At the plate, the newcomers have combined for over a third of the Zags' runs scored (19), hits (37) and runs batted in (17). They have also combined to hit nearly half of Gonzaga's doubles (8) and triples (1). As a whole, the newcomers are batting at a .205 clip. Castellitto leads all newcomers with a .316 average. Highmark marks the lone newcomer to earn a start on the mound. The Brigham Young University transfer has posted a 1-3 record in four starts. Jeremy Stumetz and Chris Griffith, both freshmen on the squad, have also seen time on the mound.

MORTENSEN EARNS NATIONAL AND CONFERENCE RECOGNITION: Clayton Mortensen lifted Gonzaga University to its first win of the season on Feb. 11, as the senior earned the decision in a 3-2 win over UC Riverside. For his efforts, the junior was named West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Week for the week of Feb. 12 and was also named to the College Baseball Foundation National Honor Roll. Mortensen tossed a complete game, allowing just one earned run on six hits and three walks, while striking out a career-high 11 Highlander batters. Mortensen held UC Riverside hitless through five innings and scoreless through seven frames during the outing, and became the first Bulldog since 2003 to fan 10 or more batters in a single game.

FIRST TIME OPPONENTS: UC Riverside, the University of Missouri, the University of Texas - Arlington, the University of Texas - San Antonio, Missouri State University, the Air Force Academy, Southern Utah University, the University of Utah and Rider University will all face Gonzaga University for the first time in program history this season. To date this year, the Bulldogs have posted a 3-5 record against first-time opponents. The Zags dropped a three-game series to UC Riverside 1-2, and fell to Missouri at the 2007 Coca Cola Spring Training Classic before taking wins from Texas - Arlington and Missouri State last weekend in Arlington, Texas.

PROGRAM FIELDING RECORD BROKE, AGAIN: For the second 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.

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. During the summer of 2006, Machtolf served as an assistant coach for Team USA. Under his guidance, the Zags posted a 28-2-1 record, including  going a perfect at the Federation Internationale du Sport Universitaire (FISU) World Championships in Havanna, Cuba. 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.

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.

LIVE ON THE INTERNET: All Gonzaga University home games will be available via Gametracker on the internet at http://www.gozags.com. Check the Gonzaga web site for all Gametracker links.

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, 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.