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Lions, Gaels Continue WCC Play at Page Stadium

April 6, 2006

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After starting West Coast Conference play with a series win over 19th-ranked Pepperdine, the Lions will continue league play this weekend when Saint Mary's visits Page Stadium for a three-game series. LMU (13-21, 2-1 WCC) and the Gaels (14-14, 1-2 WCC) will open the series Friday with a 3:00 p.m. start.

For the fifth straight season, LMU opened WCC play with a series win after topping 19th-ranked Pepperdine in two of three games last weekend. LMU has got the best of Pepperdine in the regular season series for three straight seasons and six of the last eight. In Friday's WCC opener, Brad Meyers and the Lions carried a shutout into the ninth inning, when the Waves pushed one run across to make it an 8-1 final. The Lions led by as many as five on Saturday, but were forced to score more after Pepperdine tied things up in the ninth. LMU hung on for the 11-10 win to clinch the series. The Waves salvaged game three, just avoiding the sweep by two runs with a 8-7 win over LMU. The two LMU wins give the Lions a total of four victories over nationally ranked opponents this season, with the other two coming in February against then-31st-ranked Arizona and then-25th-ranked Cal Poly.

The 2006 season start looked remarkably similar to that of 2005, and Lion fans are hoping that the similarity sticks. The Lions were 5-12 when they opened WCC play with a sweep of San Diego in March of 2005. LMU then went on to a record-setting finish to 2005, winning a program-best 14 of its final 16 regular season games to earn their second straight WCC Coast Division title. This 2006 season, the Lions started WCC play with an 11-20 record and a series win over 19th-ranked Pepperdine.

With two more WCC victories, LMU Head Coach Frank Cruz will reach the 150 career WCC win mark. Cruz, a three-time WCC Coach of the Year, is in his 10th season at the helm of the LMU program. LMU's next two wins will also place Cruz at the 275 overall career win milestone.

A WCC opening series win against 19th-ranked Pepperdine led to a sweep of the weekly conference honors for the Lions. LMU's battery of Friday starter Brad Meyers and catcher Sean Dovel were named the WCC's Pitcher and Player of the Week, the conference announced. In Friday's win, Meyers carried a shutout into the ninth inning and allowed five hits in his 8.2 innings of work. He faced just 32 batters after retiring the side in the first, third, seventh, and eighth innings. The sophomore right-hander finished with four strikeouts and improved to 5-2 on the season. This week's WCC Pitcher of the Week selection marks the second honor for Meyers, who also earned the nod on February 27 after throwing a complete game at San Jose State. Dovel hit .583 (7-for-12) against the 19th-ranked Waves to help lead LMU to the WCC series win. The sophomore finished the weekend with five doubles, five runs scored, and four RBI. Dovel's third double of the game Saturday was key to the Lions' win, as it leadoff the ninth to start the rally. Later that inning, he crossed the plate to give the Lions the 11-10 walk-off win. The Player of the Week selection is the first career nod for the catcher, who earned WCC honorable mention recognition as a freshman in 2005. He joins senior outfielder Chris Pettit as the two Lions to earn the conference selection this season.

Saint Mary's opened WCC play on the road last weekend, dropping two of three at San Diego. The Gaels won Saturday's game 5-3. Freshman Joel Staples put together a solid WCC opening series, hitting .308 with two doubles and six total bases. But the talk of Moraga is WCC Player of the Month Sam Carter, who hit .489 during March with four home runs and 21 RBI. Carter was the first Gael to earn the monthly selection since 2002.

Senior Erik Johnson extended his team-best hitting streak to 17 straight games after a .500 (7-for-14) performance against 19th-ranked Pepperdine over the weekend. During the month of March, Johnson hit in each of the Lions' 18 games but one. He hit .422 on the month, going 27-for-64 in his 18 starts. He added a home run, nine doubles, 19 RBI, and 16 runs scored. As the Lions' starting right fielder, Johnson was also perfect defensively, recording 30 putouts and 3 assists without an error. He finished the month on a high, hitting the go-ahead home run that broke the 0-0 tie in Friday's pitchers' dual against 19th-ranked Pepperdine in the WCC opener.

Getting the start at shortstop in the Lions' last nine games, Gordon responded hitting .387 (12-for-31). He also performed defensively, recording 20 putouts and 39 assists without an error. A mid-week start on March 21 marked Gordon's first start since March 4, and it came against USC, the team his dad, Howard, played for in the College World Series.

Brad Meyers went 4-0 during the month of March, earning two wins on the road and three at home including the WCC opener against the 19th-ranked Pepperdine Waves. Meyers worked 37.2 innings on the month, but allowed just 11 earned runs for an ERA of 2.63 during March. With Meyers on the mound, the Lions outscored opponents 41-15 over his five appearances. He allowed just 26 hits, while striking out 18. Opponents hit just .197 off of him. At Cal State Northridge, Meyers earned a combined shutout win after throwing seven scoreless innings with just one hit and one walk. He retired the game's first 10 batters, and after he allowed his only hit in the fourth, he went on to retire the next eight. He faced 22 batters, just one over the minimum 21 through seven innings and threw just 76 pitches. The only hit he allowed was a bunt single. In Friday's win over 19th-ranked Pepperdine, Brad Meyers carried a shutout into the ninth inning and allowed just five hits in his 8.2 innings of work. He faced just 32 batters after retiring the side in the first, third, seventh, and eighth innings. The sophomore right-hander finished with four strikeouts.

LMU's Chris Pettit has been named the West Coast Conference Player of the Week, the conference announced Monday, March 13. Pettit paced the Lions' weekend attack on New Mexico State that saw LMU outscore the Aggies 46-14 on the road. The Lions' outfielder went 9-for-17 on the week for a .529 batting average over four games. He added 10 RBI, eight runs scored, and two home runs. Both home runs came in Saturday's 17-3 win. While the selection is the first of the 2006 season for Pettit, it is the fourth career WCC Player of the Week honor for the senior.

Brian Wilson hit .400 (4-for-10) - including a game-winning double - and earned a win on the mound as the Lions won the home series with UCSB in early March. The freshman added three RBI, a run scored, and two doubles at the plate. In the Lions' 2-0 win on Saturday, Wilson threw the final 2.1 scoreless innings to earn the win, while driving in the winning run with a double in the eighth. On the mound, he allowed just one hit while striking out three. It was the first career decision for Wilson, who combined with starter Andy Beal for LMU's first shutout of the season. In Saturday's eighth inning, Wilson's double to right center drove in the first run of the game. The Lions then made it 2-0 when Wilson crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly.

Brad Meyers was the WCC's Pitcher of the Week after throwing a complete game without a walk to lead the Lions to a 3-2 victory on the road Friday at San Jose State. It was the first career complete game for Meyers, who was selected as the WCC's Top Draft Prospect by Baseball America in January. The selection also marks his first WCC Pitcher of the Week selection. Meyers worked the nine innings Friday without issuing a walk. He struck out a career-high six batters and allowed just one extra base hit to pick up his first win of 2006. The complete game effort marked the first of 2006 for the Lion pitching staff and the first since May 7, 2005, when Stephen Kahn (Seattle Mariners) threw nine at Saint Mary's.

Facing the nation's ninth-toughest non-conference schedule, LMU has picked up two victories over ranked programs. The Lions topped then-31st-ranked Arizona 12-5 on the road in the season-opening series. LMU then earned a win in its home opener, defeating then-25th-ranked Cal Poly 10-8. In the WCC opening series, LMU took two from 19th-ranked Pepperdine to win the series.

Playing tough teams again this season, Boyd's World has rated LMU's schedule among the most challenging 20 schedules in the nation. LMU ranks 17th on the Boyd's World Strength of Schedule poll for its overall schedule, and ninth in the nation for its non-conference schedule. The Lions will face 25 games against teams listed among the nation's best in the Collegiate Baseball poll. Five opponents off the 2006 schedule participated in the 2005 NCAA Baseball Championships. The LMU schedule will, as always, feature home and away match-ups with perennial powerhouses USC, Long Beach State, and 2004 national champion Cal State Fullerton.The WCC has done away with its divisions, and beginning the season, the teams will play just one three-game series against each WCC team. With this shortened league season, fans will notice additional non-conference match-ups on the schedule.

If Baseball America's preseason predictions prove to be true, LMU will have four All-WCC first-team selections and 2007's top WCC draft pick. When the national publication released its annual preseason picks, Lions were listed all over the WCC preview. Eric Farris (2B), Kyle Mura (3B), Chris Pettit (OF), and Brad Meyers (RHP) were all predicted to be first-team all-conference selections. Meyers was also projected to be the highest drafted player out of the WCC in the 2007 MLB Draft. Last season, Baseball America had tabbed Kahn as the WCC's top prospect, and the then-LMU junior was the top WCC player drafted in June when he went to Seattle in the fifth round. LMU also had four players listed among the WCC's Best Tools, including awarding Best Baserunner to Pettit. The publication then tabbed the LMU infield as the best defensive infield in the conference when it named A.J. LaMonda the WCC's best first baseman, Farris the best second baseman, and Mura the best third baseman.

Chris Pettit is listed among the nation's top baseball players on the 2006 Wallace Watch released by the College Baseball Foundation (CBF). The Brooks Wallace Award is presented annually to the national college baseball player of the year, and Pettit is among this season's early candidates. The Lions' outfielder was a 2005 All-WCC first-team selection after leading LMU to its second straight WCC Coast Division title. In conference action, Pettit hit .380 and started each of the Lions' 58 games on the season. Pettit ranked in the top 10 in the WCC in more offensive categories than any other conference player, including leading the league in runs scored (38) and doubles (14). A three-year starter in the outfield for the Lions, Pettit also finished WCC play ranked in the top three in hits (41), stolen bases (10), RBI (26), total bases (67), on base percentage (.473), and slugging percentage (.620).

Brad Meyers was named one of the Cape Cod Baseball League's top-10 prospects by Baseball America. The sophomore was the only player in the top-10 with just one year of college experience under his belt. Meyers allowed just one earned run in two Cape League playoff starts, earning postseason MVP honors as his Orleans Cardinals won the title. He was the Cardinals' starter in the rubber match of the championship, and allowed just one run on nine hits through six and a third innings. Meyers issued no walks while striking out three during his 87 pitches. He left the game in the seventh to a standing ovation from his Orleans crowd. Meyers was named to the league all-star team earlier in the season.