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Baseball Closes Regular-Season at UC Riverside

May 15, 2006

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TOREROS STILL IN POSTSEASON HUNT: The University of San Diego baseball team (32-22) is in a must win situation as they travel to play the Highlanders of UC Riverside on Tuesday in a 6 p.m. game. USD, who was eliminated from the West Coast Conference Championship Series race this past weekend, is still in the hunt for an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. This will be the Toreros' final regular-season game of the 2006 season and with a win the chances only get better for them earning an at-large bid. Already this season the Toreros have shocked the college baseball world as they swept the defending national champion Texas Longhorns in the season opening weekend. USD has since gone on to defeat seven pitchers on the Roger Clemens Award Watch List, registered a series win against the University of Houston who is currently ranked 11th in the latest Collegiate Baseball poll, and has chalked up wins against Vanderbilt, Kansas and Washington. USD has also posted a 5-4 record against ranked opponents and only lost two non-conference series and bolster the 10th-toughest non-conference schedule in the nation. The Toreros will hope that this will be a strong enough case for the selection committee to allow the Toreros a place among the field of 64.

HILL REACHES COACHING MILESTONE: San Diego head coach Rich Hill achieved a coaching milestone this past weekend as became only the third skipper in the history of the WCC to eclipse the 200 conference win mark. Hill has posted 201 career- WCC wins during his tenure's at both San Francisco and San Diego. Hill also has also approaching another milestone, win No. 600. He is currently two wins shy of that at 598, during his tenure's at Cal Lutheran, San Francisco and San Diego.

SCOUTING THE HIGHLANDERS: UC Riverside enters the week with a 26-21 overall record after winning two-of-three against Cal State Northridge this past weekend. The Toreros and Highlanders have a long-standing history that dates back to the Division II days with UCR holding the all-time edge at 30-26-1 and UCR holds a one game edge in the Division I match ups. UCR is led offensively by Brett Bigler who is hitting a team-best .364 with a team-leading 64 hits, four triples, has 10 doubles and 29 RBI. James Simmons leads the pitching rotation for the Highlanders as he is bolstering a record of 8-4 with a team-leading ERA of 3.06. Riverside is under the direction of second-year head coach Doug Smith who has posted a 54-48 record during his tenure as head coach at UCR.

LAST TIME OUT: San Diego posted a 2-2 record this past week, dropping a 10-6 contest to Cal State Northridge on Tuesday, then dropping a 7-5 contest on Friday to Gonzaga before bouncing back with a 11-7 win against the Zags on Saturday and a 14-4 pounding to the Bulldogs on Sunday. The Toreros and Matadors played an up and down game with CSUN eventually taking a 10-3 lead heading in to the ninth inning. USD then scored three runs and had the bases loaded with one out, but could not push across another run. Friday the Toreros found themselves in control of the game leading 5-1 heading into the ninth inning, then Gonzaga scored six unanswered runs to win the game. The Toreros bounced back on Saturday as the USD offense exploded for 11 runs led by Keoni Ruth's 3-for-3 two RBI performance. On Sunday, the Toreros jumped out to a huge 10-0 lead and never looked back as they recorded 17 hits in the 14-4 win. Senior Ryan Lilly, playing in his final game at Cunningham Stadium, led the offense going 5-for-5 with three RBI, two doubles and three runs scored.

TORERO SKIPPER Rich Hill: San Diego's Rich Hill has built the USD Toreros into one of the most successful Division I baseball programs on the West Coast. The 2006 spring season will be Hill's 19th year as a head coach at the collegiate level, and eighth at USD, having enjoyed 15 winning seasons in 18 years. Since taking over at USD in 1999, Hill has been remarkable in leading the Toreros to seven consecutive winning campaigns, rewriting the school record book en route to claiming back-to-back West Coast Conference Championship titles in 2002 and 2003. Under his leadership San Diego has averaged 33 wins per season, including winning a school record 39 games in 2002, a year in which Hill was honored by his peers as the West Coast Conference Coach of the Year. Hill became one of the youngest coaches in collegiate history to reach 500 career victories in 2003, taking USD into postseason play for a second consecutive season.

HIGH FIVE FOR LILLY: Senior Ryan Lilly registered a career-high five hits in Sunday's 14-4 pounding over Gonzaga University. Lilly's bat has been red hot for the Toreros ever since hitting back-to-back walk-off singles against Santa Clara two weeks ago. This past week Lilly kept that momentum going as he went 6-for-11 (.545) with three doubles and six RBI, including a perfect 5-for-5 three RBI and two doubles performance against Gonzaga this past Sunday. Lilly has moved his batting average up to .292 with 54 hits, seven doubles one home run and 32 RBI.

RUTH'S HOT BAT: Junior second baseman Keoni Ruth continued his hot hand at the plate this past week as he led the Toreros offense going 8-for-13 (.615) with one double, one home run, four RBI and five runs scored. Ruth was a huge part of the Toreros claiming its final West Coast Conference series of the season against Gonzaga University. On Saturday, Ruth went a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with two RBI, two runs scored and one double. Ruth continued that hot streak on Sunday as he went 3-for-4 with two RBI, one home run and three runs scored. Ruth is now leading the team in hitting with a .367 batting average, is second on the team in hits with 81, has 12 doubles, one triple, two home runs and 34 RBI. Ruth is also red hot against WCC pitchers as he is hitting an amazing .489 in conference play.

HE'S BACK: Junior shortstop Steve Singleton appears to have found his swing yet again. Singleton has spent most of the season as the leading batter for the Toreros, posting a .400 batting average through the first two and a half months of the season, then hit a slump once conference play began. As of late, Singleton has been one of the Toreros leading hitters as he turned in another solid week going 8-for-18 (.444) with two doubles, one triple and two RBI. Singleton is second on the team in hitting with a .363 batting average, leads the team in hits with 82, is second in doubles with 14, leads the team in triples with two, has four home runs and 35 RBI.

COUCH HAS ANOTHER SOLID DAY: Sophomore right-hander Matt Couch picked up his seventh win of the season in Sunday's 14-4 pounding of Gonzaga. Couch came in to throw five innings allowing two runs on four hits while striking out five. Couch has now moved his ERA down to 3.35, good for second best on the team, leads the team in innings pitched at 102.0 and has fanned 69 batters on the season. Couch's 102 innings pitched are among the leaders in the nation.

BUSCHINI SWINGING IT WELL: Junior outfielder Shane Buschini has been swinging the bat well as of late for the Toreros. This past week Buschini went 5-for-12 (.417) with three RBI while playing in all four games with two starts. Buschini has been in and out of the Toreros line-up lately with starts coming in each of the past two games.

WCC STRIKEOUT LEADERS: Junior right-hander Josh Butler and freshman left-hander Brian Matusz are one, two in the West Coast Conference in terms of total strikeouts. Butler has 88 (7.87 per game) and Matusz is right behind Butler with 87 (9.43 per game).

NOTES ON POSITION PLAYERS

Jose Valerio, FR, 1B: Jose Valerio has been making the most of his playing opportunity and has been a huge help for the Toreros at first base. He is hitting .267 with four hits and one RBI in seven total appearances this season.

Keoni Ruth, JR, 2B: Keoni Ruth had another huge week for USD going 8-for-13 with one double, one home run and four RBI. Ruth is leading the team in hitting with his .367 batting average and also leads the team in stolen bases with 17.

Steve Singleton, JR, SS: Steve Singleton continues to be a huge hitting force for the Toreros at the plate. Singleton has been hot as of late and this past week he went 8-for-18 with two doubles, one triple and two RBI. Singleton is second on the team in batting average at .363 and in doubles with 14.

Ryan Lilly, SR, 3B: Ryan Lilly had a huge week for USD offensively going 6-for-11 (.545) with three doubles and six RBI, including a 5-for-5, two doubles, three RBI performance in his final game at Cunningham Stadium this past Sunday.

Kevin Hansen, SO, LF: Kevin Hansen has been seeing time at both left field, and third base this season, and has been a huge defensive help for USD making spectacular grabs in the outfield. Offensively he is hitting .267 with 47 hits, four doubles and 22 RBI.

Justin Snyder, SO, CF: Justin Snyder has been a solid force at the plate for USD as of late. Snyder has moved his batting average up to .303 with 61 hits, 12 doubles, one triple, two home runs and 29 RBI.

Shane Buschini, JR, RF: Shane Buschini has moved his batting average up to .283 with 58 hits, has 10 doubles, four home runs and 29 RBI.

Jordan Abruzzo, JR, C: Jordan Abruzzo had a productive week at the plate this past week for USD going 5-for-14 with one double and two RBI. On the season, Abruzzo is hitting .302 with 67 hits, leads the team in doubles with 16, home runs with five and RBI with 45.

2006 GAMETRACKER AVAILABLE: All San Diego baseball home games can be followed via Gametracker on the Toreros athletic web site at www.usdtoreros.com. Gametracker is a service of Online College Sports, the official web provider for San Diego athletics, and is a real time update of the action. Selected San Diego road games are also available via Gametracker. To see if Gametracker is available for a game go to San Diego Events at the top-right of the home page. If Gametracker is available there will be a Gametracker link.

TOREROS TABBED SECOND IN WCC: The Toreros were tabbed to finish second in the West Coast Conference according to the preseason WCC coaches poll. USD received two first place votes and 42 points, with the Waves of Pepperdine University coming in at 48 points and 6 first place votes. Following USD was San Francisco (34 points), LMU (32 points), Gonzaga (26 points), Santa Clara (18 points), Saint Mary's (16 points) and Portland (8 points). Last season the Toreros finished 30-27-1 overall (16-14 in WCC; 2nd place in Coast Division), marking the seventh straight season with 30 or more victories .

TOREROS SCHEDULE RANKED 10TH TOUGHEST: The San Diego baseball team has the 10th toughest non-conference schedule in the nation, as stated by BoydsWorld.com. The Toreros, who open their 2006 slate with a three-game home stand against the defending national champions, Texas Longhorns, will play eight games against teams that rank in the top-10 for strength of schedule for all games - No. 4 USC (one game), No. 7 Cal State Northridge (two games), No. 8 UC Riverside (two games) and No. 9 Georgia (three games). Besides Texas, USD will face one other team in non-conference play that appear in Baseball America's Top-20, No. 7 Rice (Mar. 14). Other non-conference opponents include UC Davis (three games, Feb. 10-12), Vanderbilt (one game, Feb. 17), Kansas (one game, Feb. 18), UC Irvine (two games, Feb. 21 & Apr. 25), Cal Poly (three games, Mar. 3-5), Washington (two games, Mar. 7-8), San Diego State (four games, Mar. 10-12; May 2nd), Texas Southern (one game, Mar. 15), Houston (three games, Mar. 17-19), and UNLV (three games, Mar. 24-26).

WCC FORMAT CHANGE FOR 2006: The West Coast Conference will change its league baseball format and schedule beginning in 2006. A one-division format will once again be implemented and the eight institutions will compete in a 21-game conference season. This new format is a departure from a two-division format, West and Coast, with a 30-game conference schedule that has been used in the WCC since the beginning of the 1999 season. Under the one-division, 21-game format, each school will play the other seven opponents one time over the course of an eight-week conference season. Each team will play seven three-game series, with one week serving as the bye week. The top two finishing teams will play in the WCC Championship Series with the regular-season champ serving as series' host.