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Baseball Wraps Up Regular Season At San Francisco

May 10, 2007

Baseball Game Day: The Saint Mary's baseball team (21-26-1, 3-15 WCC) will finish its 2007 regular season across the bay against rival San Francisco (24-28, 6-12 WCC). The three-game set will mark the last series of conference play for both squads. First pitch is slated for Friday, May 11 at 3 p.m. from Benedetti Diamond.

Who's Hot: Saint Mary's freshman Michael Cipolla carried the Gaels to their first conference series victory on the season. The newcomer batted .462 (6-for-13) in the week, including his first collegiate home run and a walk-off single. Cipolla added two runs and four RBI on the week. The Martinez native belted his first collegiate home run on Friday and then proved to be clutch on Saturday with a walk-off single in the 10th on Saturday. On Sunday Cipolla led all hitters with a 3-for-3 day with again clutch hitting on a two-run single in the seventh that led to a four-run inning to secure the conference series win.

Last Time Out: The Gaels earned their first conference series victory on the season after taking down rival Santa Clara in two of the three matchups. SMC dropped the opener 5-3 but then rallied to earn back-to-back wins by the score of 3-2 and 5-4, respectively. Both wins were come from behind victories, including a 10th inning thriller on Saturday.

Relief Ace: Saint Mary's junior righthander Alex Jensen has made a smooth transition from the bullpen to a starting role. Jensen, who was one of the top arms out of the Gaels pen has been superb in his two WCC starts. Against Santa Clara the Oakland native tossed nine innings and allowed one run on six hits with two Ks. In his first conference start, Jensen struck out five in six innings of shutout ball against Portland.

Scouting San Francisco: The Dons will host the Gaels with a 24-28 overall record and a 6-12 WCC mark. USF is coming off a 6-5 loss in a continuation game against Pacific and a 7-2 defeat in the regularly scheduled matinee against the Tigers. As a team the Dons are batting .286 while opponents hold a .269 mark. The Dons hold a 4.04 ERA while opponents pitch at a 4.81 clip. USF has swiped 77 bags on the season.

Individually San Francisco is led Michael Bialosky and Joey Raliey. Bialosky sports a .343 batting average with five home runs and 40 RBI while Railey chips in with a .322 mark and 30 RBI. In 73 at-bats Zach Kim has a .370 average with 11 RBI. Luke Sommer has supplied the punch with six long balls and 29 RBI. Aaron Poreda paces the pitching staff with a 6-6 mark and a 3.01 ERA. Jason Dufloth closely follows with a 5-4 record and a 3.43 ERA.

Versus the Dons: The two squads have met 156 times since 1971 with Saint Mary's running out to a 97-59 advantage. The two teams met last season in Moraga with the Dons taking all three by a combined five runs. USF won the last game 7-6 on May 7, 2006.

Save Sighting: Saint Mary's senior Michael Nisco recorded his third save on the season which marks the ninth of his career. The nine career stops rank third in the SMC career annals. Nisco passed Don Tynon (1993-94) who had eight while Nick Lymberopoulos (1990-92) sits in second with 10. Nisco's ninth save came in a two inning outing against Portland on Sunday.

Mid-Season All-America: Saint Mary's freshmen Randy Wells and Anthony Aliotti were named to the Perfect Game Freshmen Mid-Season All-America list. Wells was selected at second base as the second-ranked newcomer at his position. Aliotti was tabbed as the third best utility player in the country as he has been one of the top two-way threats on the mound and at the plate in the league.

Award Watch: Saint Mary's senior outfielder Eric Cattoni (Lethbridge, Alberta) was announced as a finalist for the baseball division of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. Cattoni was picked from a group of 30 and is the lone representative from a California institution. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the CLASS award was designed to honor the attributes of seniors who remain committed to their university.

WCC Leaders: As a team Saint Mary's ranks third in the WCC with a .289 batting average. The Gaels sport a couple league leaders as the team continues conference play. Senior Eric Cattoni leads the league in runs scored with 52 and is second in stolen bases with 26. Freshman Anthony Aliotti is fourth in the conference with 30 walks and second with a .447 on base percentage. Sophomore Joel Staples is third in home runs (6) and in slugging percentage (.527). Randy Wells is third in average with a .367 mark.

Record Watch: Saint Mary's senior Eric Cattoni moved into a tie for ninth all-time in single season stolen bases with 26. His 52 runs scored this season rank him in a tie for third in a single season with Chris Koeper (1991). Cattoni also sits in sixth all-time in the annals with 43 career stolen bases, five away from two others in fifth.

Head Coach Jedd Soto: Soto enters his fourth year as head coach at Saint Mary's College. In just his third season at the helm, Soto turned the program around and made it one of the top contenders in the West Coast Conference. Soto led Saint Mary's to its finest season in 15 years, compiling its first winning season since 1991.

Since his inaugural season, Soto has added 12 wins, compiling an improvement of six victories a year. With that feat, Soto became only the second coach in Saint Mary's modern history to record back-to-back improvements in the win column.

Soto has had 11 players earn West Coast Conference accolades including three first-team selections in 2005 and six overall selections in 2006, the most at SMC since the 1994 season. In addition to the conference awards, Soto had six players selected in the amateur draft the last two seasons and eight players selected in previous drafts.

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 Division I baseball.

Saint Mary's Ink Seven For '08: Saint Mary's secured commitments from six players from Northern California and one from San Diego, CA. Under the direction of Soto and his assistants, the SMC coaching staff assembled the class with six pitchers (5 RHP, 1 LHP) and one infielder with many of the arms able to make a contribution at the plate as well.

Saint Mary's six Northern California players include Daniel Alcaire SS/RHP (Salesian High School), Justin Kuks RHP (West High School), Taylor Reid RHP (De La Salle High School), Alex Schmarzo RHP (Palo Alto High School), David Small LHP (Benicia High School) and Kyle Tachibana RHP/INF (Los Altos High School). The lone Southern California signee is Dorsey Ek RHP/INF from Francis Parker High School in San Diego, CA.