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USD's Brian Matusz Highlights Semifinalists For Roger Clemens Award

May 15, 2008

HOUSTON, Texas - San Diego left-hander Brian Matusz, a 2007 semifinalist, leads a group of 10 of the best college pitchers in America who have been named semifinalists for the fifth Roger Clemens Award. The list was announced on Thursday in Houston after the conclusion of the first round of voting by the nation,s Division 1 head baseball coaches and selected national media.

Matusz is joined by Scott Bittle of Mississippi, Aaron Crow of Missouri, Joshua Fields of Georgia, Scott Gorgen of UC Irvine, Chris Hernandez of Miami (Fla.), Shooter Hunt of Tulane, Mike Leake of Arizona State, Andrew Liebel of Long Beach State, and Stephen Strasburg of San Diego State.

The group includes the current national leaders in wins (Crow), saves (Fields), strikeouts (Strasburg) and strikeouts per nine innings (Bittle). The national field features pitchers from eight conferences with the Big West and Southeastern conferences being represented by two candidates each.

Ole Miss, Bittle a junior right-hander from Texarkana, Tex., is 5-1 on the season with a 1.48 earned run average and seven saves. Bittle has struck out 99 batters in only 54.2 innings. His ERA also ranks fourth nationally.

Missouri,s Crow, a junior righty from Wakarusa, Kan., is 11-0 with a 2.82 ERA. In addition to being the national leader in wins, his 103 strikeouts in 83 innings ranks fifth in the nation.

Georgia,s Fields, a right-hander from Hull, Ga., picked up his NCAA-best 16th save Tuesday night in the Bulldogs, 3-2 win over Georgia Tech in Atlanta. He,s also 1-1 with a 0.66 ERA, and has struck out 49 opponents in 27.1 innings.

UC Irvine,s Gorgen, a junior right-hander from Concord, Calif., is 10-2 with a 1.79 ERA. That earned run average ranks 11th in the country, and his total of 101 K,s in 90.1 innings ranks seventh nationally for the ninth-ranked Anteaters.

Miami's Chris Hernandez, a hometown freshman left-hander, is 9-0 with a 2.70 ERA as the top-ranked Hurricanes, Friday starter. He,s the first freshman to earn a semifinal berth in the five years of balloting for the Clemens Award.

Hunt, a Tulane junior right-hander from Wyckoff, N.J., is 9-1 with a 1.97 ERA. He ranks in the top 15 nationally in wins, ERA, and striekouts (105 in 77.2 innings).ASU,s Leake, a sophomore from Fallbrook, Calif., is 8-1 with a 3.42 ERA for the fourth-ranked Sun Devils. He,s struck out 86 in 92 innings.

LBSU,s Liebel, a senior right-hander from Pmona, Calif., is 7-2 with a 1.69 ERA, a mark that ranks ninth in the country. Liebel has led the Dirtbags to a top 25 ranking the current NCBWA poll.

Matusz, a USD junior lefty from Cave Creek, Ariz., is 10-2 with a 2.05 ERA. His 122 strikeouts in just 88 innings (third in the country) has paced the Toreros to a top-10 national ranking.

SDSU,s Strasburg, a sophomore right-hander from San Diego, Calif., is 8-1 with a 1.28 earned run average. His NCAA-best 125 strikeouts has come in only 84.1 innings.

Voters for The Roger Clemens Award are broken down into three groups. All Division 1 head baseball coaches are issued ballots, as are a selected group of writers and broadcasters who cover the college game. In addition the 16 winners of the R.E. Bob Smith Award, which was presented in Houston in 1988-2003, are asked to vote, along with the 13 finalists from the first four years of the Clemens Award.

The Roger Clemens Award was named after pitching legend Roger Clemens, who began his march to stardom while leading the University of Texas to the College World Series title in 1983. As a major-leaguer, Clemens won 354 games (eighth best in history), fanned 4,672 hitters and won seven Cy Young Awards, emblematic as the top pitcher in his league. The Roger Clemens Award is the only award of its kind, honoring the finest pitchers in college baseball. Voting to determine the three finalists for the 2008 award will begin on May 26.

The event is administered by the Greater Houston Baseball Association, which has donated more than $300,000 to the charities from the net proceeds from the first four dinners. The GHBA is a non-profit 501.3 (C) organization dedicated to the growth of amateur baseball in the Houston area.