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Baseball Aims To Stay Hot At Home With Four Games

March 6, 2006

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This Week in Gaels Baseball: The Saint Mary's baseball team will stay at home this week to play four games. The Gaels will begin their week by hosting the San Francisco State Gators on Tuesday, March 7 at 2 p.m. SMC will then host Northern Illinois in a weekend series beginning on Friday, March 10 at 2 p.m. The Gaels will play the Huskies on Saturday and Sunday with both start times slated for 1 p.m.

Scouting San Francisco State: The Gators enter Moraga with a 6-9 overall record but all six wins have come on the road. SFSU is coming off a series split against Cal Poly Pomona. Offensively the Gators are led by D.J. Stacey's .433 batting average, two triples and 14 RBIs. David Phillips is also above the .400 mark with a .429 batting clip, while adding four doubles and six RBIs. Jonathan Combs has supplied the power, belting a team-leading four home runs while driving in 14.

On the mound, the Gators are led by reliever Takane Suzuki. The Tokyo native leads the team with an unblemished 0.00 ERA in 15 innings pitched. Suzuki has compiled a 2-0 record to go along with a team-leading three saves. Nick DeCampli (1-0) has proven to be the best starter thus far with a 4.50 ERA in 10 innings pitched.

Scouting Northern Illinois: The Huskies come into the weekend with a 4-5 overall record and a 3-4 mark on the road. NIU is coming off a series victory over Southern Illinois. The Huskies took the last two games by the scores of 8-0, 8-6, respectively. Scott Simon and Nick Hall were recognized by the MAC for their efforts last week. Simon was named MAC Player of the Week while Hall earned MAC West Pitcher of the Week. Simon leads the Huskies with a .400 batting average, one home run and 12 RBIs. Jeff Thomas closely follows at a .393 clip, adding a home run and five RBIs.

On the hill, NIU is led by Hall, who sports a 2-1 record with a 1.89 ERA. Hall has held opposing batters to a .174 batting average and has tossed a complete game shutout. Brian Smith follows with a 3.86 ERA and a 1-2 mark in three starts. Matt German has made five appearances out of the pen and has tallied a save to go along with his 11 Ks in seven innings.

Who's Hot: Sophomore catcher Ian Gordon and senior outfielder Sam Carter had huge weeks for the Gaels. Gordon led SMC over the course of the week with a .571 (8-for-14) batting average, belting a home run while driving in five. His home run and five RBIs were also a team high for the week. The backstop connected on his first round-tripper of the season against Georgetown in a 2-0 victory. The Richmond native had three multi-hit games over the course of the week, including a 3-for-4 outburst with a game-high four RBIs and two runs scored in a 15-2 rout over GU on Sunday. Gordon batted 2-for-3 with a home run and run scored on Saturday and added a 2-for-4 performance in a 4-1 loss against Pacific.

Carter was just as impressive, batting .538 (7-for-13) with a home run and four RBIs. Carter belted his third home run on the season in the first game of the doubleheader against Georgetown. The blast to left-center broke the scoreless tie and enabled senior hurler Joel Fountain to pitch his way to complete game shutout. Carter slugged a team-leading .923, adding two doubles while scoring five times.

Near Flawless: Saint Mary's senior pitcher Joel Fountain flirted with a no-hitter against Georgetown Saturday. Fountain hurled a complete game, one-hit shutout to lead the Gaels to a 2-0 victory. The 6-4 pitcher overpowered the Hoyas lineup, striking out a career high 10, en route to his second victory on the season. On the year, Fountain is 2-1 with a 2.83 ERA. The Reno, NV native has struck out 25 in 28 2/3 innings pitched and has held opposing hitters to a meager .165 batting average.

Flame Throwing Duo: The Saint Mary's senior duo of Joel Fountain and Corey Madden has kept opposing hitters frustrated and SMC fielders bored. Madden became the first pitcher to strike out 10 batters in a game since Eric Bowden accomplished the feat in February of 2002. Fountain followed suit by striking out 10 the very next game. Fountain fanned 10 in a one-hit shutout against Georgetown. On the season, Madden (1-1) showcases a 2.65 ERA, adding 16 strikeouts in 17 innings pitched.

Pitching Prowess: The Saint Mary's pitching staff had an incredible week. As a unit, the Gaels tallied a 1.29 ERA in the four games last week. Five pitchers combined to be untouched with a perfect 0.00 ERA in 20 1/3 innings pitched. Senior Ian Farmer collected his first victory on the year, holding the Hoyas to no runs and five hits in six innings. Justin Sloan, Ryan Doyle and Chris Duke combined to hold their opponents to just one hit in 5 1/3 innings of relief.

Home Cooking: Saint Mary's continues to stay hot at home establishing an 8-2 mark at Louis Guisto Field. The home record for the Gaels is equal or better than many teams that are ranked in the Top 25 nationally. No. 12-ranked Tulane is 7-3 at home while No. 15 Florida is 6-6. Bay Area rival (16) Stanford sits at 7-3 while No. 19-ranked Ole Miss is 8-3. No. 22 Long Beach is 6-3 and WCC rival (23) Pepperdine is 5-3. No. 24 Cal Poly currently sits at 6-3. (Rankings were pulled from Baseball America).

Head Coach Jedd Soto: Soto enters his third year as head coach at Saint Mary's College. After two seasons at the helm, Soto has had seven players earn West Coast Conference accolades including three first-team selections in 2005, the most at SMC since the 1991 season. In addition to the conference awards, Soto had four players selected in the 2005 amateur draft and eight players selected in previous drafts.

Last season Soto led the Gaels to their first 20 win season since 2002 and his six win improvement is the most by any single coach at Saint Mary's since Jim Jones accomplished the feat in 1987.

Soto has been instrumental in bringing in the top talent to Moraga and his 2006 recruiting class is no different. Soto inked 14 players in the early signing period including 10 Northern California players. Several of Soto's signee's are ranked among the best in the nation.

Soto was hired on July 1, 2003 as a unanimous choice of the players, coaches, administrators and the search committee. At 29 years of age, Soto was the youngest head coach hired in the West Coast Conference.

Coach Soto comes from a coaching tree that includes Smoke Laval: current head coach of LSU, and Jim "Skip" Walker: 1000 game winner at the collegiate level and hitting pioneer. With the implementation and combination of the systems used by Laval and Walker, Soto's style of play is bred for success.

Next Week: Saint Mary's will hit the road for four games with three scheduled against Southern Utah. SMC will begin its week against Bay Area rival California before embarking on its longest trip to Cedar City, UT. The Gaels will play the Bears on Tuesday, March 14 at 2 p.m. and begin their three-game set against the Thunderbirds on Friday, March 17 at 2 p.m.