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Pair of Top-25 Teams Await Lions

April 12, 2006

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BRIEFLY
The long holiday weekend will be no break for the Lions, who will face a pair of top-25 teams in the next few days. LMU continues West Coast Conference play with a Thursday-Friday-Saturday series at 23rd-ranked San Diego (22-13, 4-2 WCC). The Lions (14-23, 3-3 WCC) will then return to non-conference midweek play against the nation's top team at Cal State Fullerton (26-8) Tuesday.

BIG 3-GAME SET IN WCC STANDINGS
This weekend's three-game series at USD will have a major impact in the WCC standings. With the change in format in conference play this season, each team faces each other for just one three-game series. The 23rd-ranked Toreros currently sit in a three-way tie for first place with a 4-2 record in league play. But three teams- including the Lions- sit just one game back at 3-3. LMU has posted a 10-2 record over the Toreros the last two seasons, including a 3-0 sweep in the teams' first WCC meeting last year. The Lions eliminated USD from the 2006 WCC Coast Division title race with the series win in May, with the game one win airing on national television. The Lions went on to win that Coast Division title for the second straight year after next eliminating Gonzaga.

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN?
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.

CRUZ NEARS WCC MILESTONE
With just one more WCC victory, 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 win will also place Cruz at the 275 overall career win milestone.

LMU AMONG THE NATION'S BEST
This week marks the first week of national statistic rankings, as the NCAA begins to rank the nation's teams in all statistical categories. As a team, LMU is among the best in doubles per game and fielding percentage, ranking 15th in doubles (2.38) and 54th in fielding percentage (.967). Individually, Sean Dovel ranks 12th (.47) and Chris Pettit ranks 30th (.43) in the nation in doubles per game.

JOHNSON JUMPS TO 20
After posting hits in each of the Lions' three games last week, senior Erik Johnson has improved his hitting streak to 20-straight games. Dating back to the UC Santa Barbara series in early March, Johnson has tallied a hit in each game. His mark of 20 consecutive games equals LMU's longest hitting streak since the program record of 27 was set in 1988 by Don Sparks. Only Joe Frazee (2002-05, Philadelphia Phillies) has matched that mark, also putting up a 20-game streak as a freshman in 2002.

LMU BATTERY SWEEPS WCC HONORS
A WCC opening series win against 19th-ranked Pepperdine led to a sweep of the weekly 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. 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 selection is the first career nod for the catcher, who earned WCC honorable mention recognition as a freshman.

PETTIT NAMED WCC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
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.

MEYERS MASTERFUL IN MARCH
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.

WILSON DOUBLE-TROUBLE FOR GAUCHOS
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.

MEYERS NAMED WCC PITCHER OF THE WEEK
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.

BEATING THE BEST
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.

ON THE SCHEDULE
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.

LIONS RACK UP THE PRESEASON HONORS
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 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.

PETTIT NAMED TO WALLACE WATCH
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).

MEYERS NAMED CAPE LEAGUE TOP PROSPECT
Brad Meyers was named one of the Cape Cod 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 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 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.

-GO LIONS-