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WCC Baseball Weekly Notes - 5/19

May 19, 2008

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San Diego Hosts Pepperdine In 10th Annual WCC Championship Series

Pepperdine and San Diego will meet over Memorial Day weekend to determine the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in the 10th annual WCC Championship Series. It marks the second straight season that the Toreros will host the event, as USD claimed its third WCC Championship Series title at Cunningham Stadium last year. The Waves will make the program's ninth trip to the WCC Championship Series in 10 years, having secured a second place finish in the conference standings. Pepperdine edged Santa Clara for the chance to take on San Diego, knocking the Broncos out of WCC Championship Series contention by taking two-of-three in the final regular season series between the two programs last weekend.

San Diego ascended to a No. 7 listing in the Collegiate Baseball poll, and No. 11 in the Baseball America rankings after taking last week off for exams, while Pepperdine is ranked No. 13 in the Rivals.com poll.

Scouting The Waves
Pepperdine boasts a solid lineup that features six starters currently batting over .300. Eric Thames has put together one of the most outstanding seasons in recent conference history, as the junior has batted .407 (74-for-182) with a team-best 13 home runs and 59 RBI on the year. Bryce Mendonca starts everything off in the leadoff spot for the Waves, as the junior is pacing the conference with 28 stolen bases and is batting .343 (71-for-207) to rank second on the team. Junior Chase d'Arnaud enters the Championship Series with eight round-trippers on the year, and a team best 15 doubles, while Ryan Heroy batted a career-high .329 (54-for-164) during the regular season.

Pepperdine's pitching rotation is highlighted by three newcomers, as transfer Nathan Newman and freshmen Scott Alexander and Matt Bywater have led the way for the Waves. Newman has posted a 7-3 record with a 3.24 ERA, while Alexander and Bywater combined to post 14 victories during the regular season. Junior left-hander Robert Dickmann has made 15 mound appearances and 13 starts for the Waves, while Nick Gaudi emerged as one of the conference's top closers this season, nailing down 13 saves with a team-best 2.09 ERA during his senior campaign. Tyler Hess gives Pepperdine added depth in the bullpen, as the freshman right-hander has gone a perfect 3-0 in 21 relief appearances

Pepperdine has won seven of its last eight contests, including taking two-of-three from Santa Clara last weekend to earn a berth in the Championship Series. The Waves are 5-6 against ranked opponents so far this season.

Scouting The Toreros
San Diego's lineup has been led by sophomore outfielder James Meador, who enters the WCC Championship Series batting a team-best .380 (71-for-187) on the season. Meador also paces the team with 16 doubles and 49 RBI, while pounding out a team-best 71 hits on the year. Freshman Victor Sanchez emerged as one of the top power hitters in the conference during his first collegiate campaign, as the newcomer slugged a team-leading 11 home runs and tied for second on the team with 45 RBI during the regular season. Six Torero starters enter the week batting over .300, with Kevin Hansen (.349), Jose Valerio (.328), Josh Romanski (.317), Kevin Muno (.311), and Sean Nicol (.302) all batting .300 or better.

The Toreros boast one of the strongest starting pitching rotations in the nation, as Brian Matusz and Romanski headline a four-man group that has combined to go 30-10 this season. Matusz, a semifinalist for the Roger Clemens Award, has posted a 10-2 mark with a WCC-high 122 strikeouts, while Romanski has notched a perfect 9-0 mark, including a pair of complete game victories. Freshman right-hander Kyle Blair (6-4, 4.36) and junior left-hander Ricardo Pecina (5-4, 3.58) round out the starting rotation, while sophomore AJ Griffin leads the USD bullpen. Griffin set the Torero program record with 13 saves this season, and leads the WCC with a 2.04 ERA.

USD put together a 16-game winning streak during April, which registered as the nation's longest. The streak included 12 straight victories against WCC opponents, a string that was halted by Pepperdine on May 2. USD took two-of-three from the Waves during their series in Malibu.

WCC Championship Series Schedule
Cunningham Stadium (San Diego, CA)

May 23
Pepperdine at San Diego - 3:00 PM

May 24
Pepperdine at San Diego - 2:00 PM

May 25 (if necessary)
Pepperdine at San Diego - 1:00 PM

Around The WCC

WCC Championship Series To Be Broadcast On WCCsports.com
Fans can catch all the WCC Championship Series action from San Diego this weekend, as all three games are slated to be broadcast on WCCsports.com. A free live video webcast of the entire schedule of weekend games will be available exclusively on the conference's official website, and fans can view each contest by signing up for the free service online. It marks the second straight year that the entire event will be broadcast on the web.

WCC Championship Series Notes
This season marks the 10th annual WCC Baseball Championship Series ... San Diego will be making its fourth appearance in the event, and will be hosting the series at Cunningham Stadium for the second straight year ... This season marks a re-match of the 2002 and 2003 Championship Series events, with the Toreros winning back-to-back titles over Pepperdine in three games on both occasions ... Pepperdine last appeared in the WCC Championship Series in 2006, and has appeared in nine of the 10 WCC Championship Series ... This season will mark the second straight year that Most Outstanding Player and Most Outstanding Pitcher awards will be presented ... San Diego's Justin Snyder and Matt Couch took home the first-ever honors last season ... Five WCC teams have appeared in the WCC Championship Series, with nine of the 10 events taking place in Southern California ... The 2006 series in San Francisco was the first held in the Bay Area, while the Northwest has yet to host the championship ... The Waves have posted a 4-4 record in series competition, claiming the title in 2001 and in three straight seasons from 2004-06, while San Diego claimed crowns in all three of its Championship Series appearances (2002, 03, and 07) ... LMU has made four Championship Series appearances, winning the title in 1999 and 2000 ... LMU's George C. Page Stadium and Pepperdine's Eddy D. Field Stadium have hosted the WCC Championship Series a league-high three times apiece ... The inaugural WCC Championship Series in 1999 was split between Los Angeles and Malibu ... The Championship Series format was adopted to determine an NCAA Tournament representative when the WCC began a two-division alignment in 1999. The conference reverted to a one-division format prior to the 2006 campaign, with the Championship Series matching the top two squads in the league standings following the regular season.

San Diego's Matusz A Semifinalist For Prestigious Awards
San Diego left-hander Brian Matusz has been named a semifinalist for a pair of prestigious awards. The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), working in conjunction with the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, named Matusz as one of 16 semifinalists for the 2008 Dick Howser Trophy, given to the top player in collegiate baseball. The junior was also named among the 10 semifinalists for the Roger Clemens Award, presented annually to the nation's top pitcher. Matusz is currently 10-2 overall with a 2.05 ERA, and leads the team in strikeouts with 122. Matusz has been named the WCC Pitcher of the Month twice this season, and is second all-time in career strikeouts at USD with 378.

WCC/Rawlings Player of the Week
Kyle Jensen, Saint Mary's

Saint Mary's Kyle Jensen capped an outstanding sophomore campaign by leading the Gaels to a three-game sweep of Portland over the weekend. Jensen batted .429 (6-for-14) through three games, while scoring five runs and collecting six RBI against the Pilots. In Saturday's 16-3 win, Jensen went 4-for-6 with four doubles and four RBI on the afternoon to lead the Gaels. He performed well in the clutch, going 5-for-12 with runners on base.

WCC/Rawlings Pitcher of the Week
Nate Garcia, Santa Clara

Santa Clara's Nate Garcia opened a crucial series against Pepperdine in style, as the sophomore pitched the Broncos to a 6-3 victory on Friday evening. Garcia went 7.2 innings to earn the win, striking out 11 Pepperdine batters and scattering nine hits against the No. 13 ranked team in the nation. Garcia surrendered just three earned runs before giving way to the Bronco bullpen, and improved to 7-3 on the season with the victory.

WCC Team Notes

Gonzaga Bulldogs (30-23 / 10-10 WCC)
- The Zags closed out the regular season by taking two-of-three from LMU on the road over the weekend.

- Gonzaga reached the 30-win plateau for the second consecutive season, marking the first time in 26 years that GU squads have posted two straight 30-win campaigns.

- Ryan Wiegand drove in a conference-best 63 runs during the regular season, which ranks seventh on the Gonzaga single-season list. The junior also moved into a tie for sixth place on the GU career RBI chart with 152.

- As a team, Gonzaga hit .313 at the plate during the season. Since 1974, the Bulldogs have only finished seven seasons hitting over .300, including a school record .329 clip in 1974.

- Freshman Cody Martin set the GU single-season record with nine saves in 2008.

Loyola Marymount Lions (23-32/ 7-14 WCC)
- The Lions closed out the season with a busy week, falling to then-No. 3 Arizona State and then-No. 9 UC Irvine before dropping two-of-three to Gonzaga to finish the year with a 23-32 overall mark.

- Angelo Songco clubbed a pair of home runs in Sunday's 11-1 win over Gonzaga. The sophomore finished the campaign with a team-best 15 round trippers on the year, which tied for the conference lead.

- Ryan Wheeler enjoyed an outstanding junior campaign, pacing the team with 20 doubles and ranking second on the team in batting (.345), home runs (6), hits (70), RBI (45), and total bases (110).

- Nate Keadle tossed his first career complete-game, as the senior scattered eight hits and struck out two batters to earn the win in Sunday's season finale.

Pepperdine Waves (35-17 / 14-6 WCC)
- The Waves took two-of-three from Santa Clara over the weekend to capture second place in the conference standings, and earn a spot in the WCC Championship Series for the ninth time in 10 years.

- Eric Thames has enjoyed a dominating season, as the senior enters the WCC Championship Series leading the conference in runs (58), triples (8), total bases (140), on base percentage (.513), and slugging percentage (.769). He also ranks second in the WCC in batting (.407) and RBI (59).

- Nick Gaudi emerged as one of the top closers in the WCC, nailing down 13 saves this year to move into third place on the Pepperdine single-season list.

- The Waves travel to UC Riverside (5/20) before opening WCC Championship Series play at San Diego on Friday.

Portland Pilots (21-33 / 3-18 WCC)
- Portland took two games from Cal State Northridge before suffering a three-game sweep by Saint Mary's to finish the season with a 21-33 overall mark.

- Danny Meier slugged his 15th home run of the season on Sunday, finishing the campaign tied for the conference lead. The senior closed out his career on The Bluff ranked fifth on Portland's all-time home runs list with 26.

- Riley Henricks enjoyed a breakout freshman campaign, finishing second on the team with a .301 (69-for-229) batting average and a team-high 16 doubles on the year.

- Senior Ari Ronick made his 47th career start on Saturday to move into second place on the Portland all-time list, just one shy of the UP record for starts set by Jason Mickel (1992-95).

Saint Mary's Gaels (26-26-1 / 8-13 WCC)
- Saint Mary's wrapped up the 2008 season with a three-game sweep of Portland on the road. The Gaels posted a 26-26-1 overall record, marking the second time in three seasons that an SMC squad has posted a .500 or better record.

- Kyle Jensen set a Saint Mary's single-season record, hitting at a .421 (82-for-195) clip to snap the 20-year old mark of .420 set by former Gael James Mouton in 1988. Jensen became the first Gael to lead the WCC in batting since current Major Leaguer Mark Teahen did so in 2002, and his batting average ranks seventh on the WCC single-season chart.

- Joel Staples finished the season ranked second in the conference with five triples. The junior ended the season tied for second on the Saint Mary's career list for three-baggers with 12.

- The Gaels batted .321 as a team during the 2008 season, falling just short of the program record of .328 set by the 1990 Saint Mary's squad.

San Diego Toreros (39-15 / 16-5 WCC)
- San Diego had the week off after clinching its second straight regular season conference title, and enters the WCC Championship Series with a 39-15 overall mark.

- The USD duo of Brian Matusz and Josh Romanski has been as dominant as any in the nation this season, as the pair of left-handers have combined for a 19-2 record. Matusz struck out 122 batters and notched a 2.05 ERA during the regular season, while Romanski has posted a perfect 9-0 mark in 13 mound appearances.

- AJ Griffin was one of the first 12 players who accepted an invitation to the 2008 National Team Trials to be held June 11-23. Griffin set the USD program record with 13 saves this season.

- The Toreros return to action this weekend, hosting Pepperdine in the WCC Championship Series at Cunningham Stadium.

San Francisco Dons (31-26 / 12-9 WCC)
- San Francisco was swept by Dallas Baptist over the weekend, finishing the 2008 season with a 31-26 overall record. It marks the third time in four seasons that the Dons have posted 30 or more wins.

- Joey Railey pounded out a team-high 78 hits during his senior campaign, which is tied for ninth place on the USF single-season list. Railey also moved into a tie for third place on the Dons' all-time hits chart, matching former standout Armand Gaerlan (2001-04) with 239 career base hits.

- Mitchell Bialosky enjoyed an outstanding senior campaign, batting .326 (76-for-233) and clubbing a team-high eight home runs. Bialosky also went 5-6 in 23 mound appearances, and nailed down five saves for the Dons.

- Connor Bernatz led all WCC freshman with a .347 (66-for-190) batting average this year.

Santa Clara Broncos (33-21 / 13-8 WCC)
- Santa Clara took the series opener, but dropped two straight to Pepperdine over the weekend to fall out of contention for the WCC Championship Series.

- Santa Clara's 33 wins this season are the most for the Broncos under Head Coach Mark O'Brien, and marks the program's first 30-win season since 2003.

- The Broncos slugged a conference-high 60 home runs during the regular season, falling just two short of the SCU team record of 62 set during the 1984 campaign. Jon Karcich clubbed a team-best 12 round-trippers, while Matt Long hit a career-high 11 long balls on the year.

- Freshman Thain Simon led the Broncos in wins (9), ERA (2.59), and strikeouts (71).

- SCU will attempt to bolster its case for a postseason bid against Pacific (5/20) this week.