March 13, 2006
This Week in Gaels Baseball: The Saint Mary's baseball team will hit the road for a four-game trip. SMC will begin its week on Tuesday, March 14 against the California Golden Bears. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. from Evans Diamond. The Gaels will then embark on their longest trip of the season when they head to Cedar City, UT for a three-game set against the Southern Utah Thunderbirds. The first game of the series is scheduled for Friday, March 17 at 2 p.m. Both games to follow will start at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Scouting California: The Gaels head to Berkeley and face a Golden Bears team that sports a 9-8 overall record and a 7-3 home mark. Cal is coming off a three-game series loss to UNLV in Las Vegas. The Bears won the first game 5-1 but fell in the next two. Offensively Cal is led by Allen Craig. The senior leads the team with a .391 batting average and five doubles. Chris Errecart, a preseason All-American, is leading the team with six home runs and 13 RBIs. Errecart also boasts a .308 batting average and a .600 slugging percentage.
On the mound, Cal is led by Brandon Morrow. The junior is a perfect 3-0 with a 1.34 ERA. Morrow has hurled a complete game and has struck out 36 in 33 2/3 innings pitched. Out of the pen, Matt Gorgen has made seven appearances, recording one save. Gorgen is 1-2 with a stingy 0.77 ERA.
Scouting Southern Utah: The Thunderbirds currently sit at 7-5 with 12 games being played at home. SUU is coming off a two-game split with Utah. The Thunderbirds feel in the first game 5-11 and won the second game 12-10 in 10 innings. The rubber match was postponed due to snow. Offensively, SUU is led by Justin Sotelo and Jeff Oliverson. Both players are hitting .400 while Oliverson leads the team with 12 RBIs. Sotelo has driven in 10 and stolen nine bases in 10 attempts. Robbie Richards has supplied the punch for the Thunderbirds, belting four home runs in just 19 at bats. Richards is batting .421 with eight RBIs in seven games played. As a team, SUU has stolen 41 bases in 51 attempts.
On the mound, the Thunderbirds are led by starter Larry Ellenbrook. Ellenbrook is 2-1 with a 4.32 ERA in four games started. Dustin Wittwer leads the team out of the bullpen with six appearances and a 2.70 ERA. Wittwer has struck out 10 in 10 innings and only walked one.
Who's Hot: Senior Sam Carter has jump-started the Gaels to win five straight games. Over the course of the five-game winning streak, Carter batted .556 (10-for-18) with a home run and a team-leading seven RBIs. The senior has also connected for two doubles and scored nine runs. Over the same span, Carter is slugging .833 and boasts a .600 OB%. Carter has also stolen two bases in two attempts.
Rolling, Rolling, Rolling: Saint Mary's has won five straight games by taking series victories over Georgetown and Northern Illinois. Over the course of the streak, the Gaels have amassed 41 runs compared to the seven tallied by their opponents. On the hill, SMC boasts a 1.40 ERA while opposing teams have been touched up for an 8.10 clip.
Carter Streaking: Saint Mary's senior outfielder Sam Carter has hit safely in 16 straight games. In the 18 games played this season, Carter has recorded a hit in 17 of them. Over the course of the streak, Carter has tallied six multi-hit games which include four two-hit performances and two three-hit performances. When the senior tallies a multi-hit game, the Gaels are a perfect 6-0.
Fountain Dealing: Senior pitcher Joel Fountain has won his last three decisions for the Gaels. Over the course of the three wins, the Reno, NV native has posted a 1.23 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 22 innings pitched. The senior has hurled a complete game shut out and held opposing hitters to a .152 batting average while only allowing 12 hits. Fountain began his streak with a win over North Dakota State in the River City Classic. He continued to shine with a complete game one-hit shut out against Georgetown. The senior tallied his third victory in the opening game of the NIU series.
Pitching Prowess: The Saint Mary's pitching staff continues to stymie opposing hitters. During the five-game winning streak, SMC pitchers showcase a stingy 1.40 ERA. Six out of the eight pitchers who made appearances over the course of the streak have yet to be touched up, sporting an unblemished 0.00 ERA. Opposing hitters have been held to a paltry .200 clip while the staff has fanned 37 in 45 innings.
Home Cooking: Saint Mary's continues to stay hot at home establishing a 10-2 mark at Louis Guisto Field. With one more win at home the Gaels will match last year's home win total of 11. The Gaels have won their last six games at the Guisto and nine out of their last 10. At home, the SMC pitching staff currently boasts a 2.33 ERA while opposing pitchers have been drilled for a 6.80 mark.
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.
This season Soto has already had two players named the West Coast Conference Player of the Week. In Saint Mary's opening week, senior Delaney Gallagher nabbed the honor while senior Joel Fountain was named Pitcher of the Week for his one-hit complete game shutout against Georgetown.
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 return home to the friendly confines of Louis Guisto Field for a four-game homestand. SMC will open the week against the Pacific Tigers on Tuesday, March 21 at 2 p.m. The Gaels will open a three-game weekend series against Utah on Friday, March 24 at 2 p.m.