May 21, 2007
Gonzaga and San Diego will meet over Memorial Day weekend to determine the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in the ninth annual WCC Championship Series. It marks the third appearance in the WCC Championship Series for the Toreros, and the first time that the event will be held on the University of San Diego campus. Gonzaga will compete in the WCC Championship Series for the first time since the 2001 season, having qualified by securing a second place finish in the conference standings. The Bulldogs edged No. 24 Pepperdine for the chance to take on San Diego, knocking the Waves out of WCC Championship Series contention for the first time in the nine-year history of the event.
San Diego ascended to a program-record No. 5 in the Baseball America rankings and No. 6 in the Collegiate Baseball poll, while Gonzaga earned votes in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll twice prior to this week.
Scouting The Bulldogs
Gonzaga boasts a solid lineup that features four starters currently batting over .300. Darin Holcomb has been one of the leading run producers for the Zags so far this season, tying for the team lead with six home runs and is batting a team-high .365 (81-for-222). Holcomb has pounded out 81 hits so far this season, the ninth-highest single-season total in GU program history. Junior Bryan Winston ranks second on the squad with a .335 (59-for-176) batting average, while San Diego native Ryan Wiegand is batting .333 (68-for-204) and has driven in a team-high 45 runs so far this season. Veteran shortstop Aaron McGuinness is tied for second on the team with five round-trippers, and has collected 33 RBI.
The Zags' pitching staff has been one of the most reliable in the league, as GU starters have combined to toss a WCC-high 12 complete games on the season. Clayton Mortensen has enjoyed a phenomenal senior campaign, posting an 8-2 overall record and striking out 116 batters to rank second in the WCC. Mortensen notched a perfect 6-0 mark against conference opponents, and garnered WCC/Rawlings Pitcher of the Week honors three times during the 2007 season. Veteran Josh Monroe made 12 starts and 17 mound appearances this year, recording a 6-3 mark with a 4.74 ERA, while Brandon Harmon tossed a WCC-high six complete games in 2007. Freshman Jeremy Stumetz went 4-2 with four saves as one GU's top arms out of the bullpen.
Gonzaga was the only WCC team to win a series against USD this season, taking two-of-three in Spokane to begin the league slate, and has won five of its last six games against league opposition. The Zags are 5-6 against ranked opponents so far this season.
Scouting The Toreros
San Diego's lineup has produced one of the most impressive offensive seasons in recent memory, as the Toreros are bating .312 (609-for-1949) as a team and have clubbed a league-high 36 home runs on the season. Seven starters are currently batting over .300, including infielder Justin Snyder who is tied for the team lead with a .348 (80-for-230) batting average. Senior Shane Buschini is also batting .348 and slugged a WCC-best 13 home runs during the regular season, while fellow senior Jordan Abruzzo has driven in a league-best 56 runs to go along with his .333 (78-for-234) batting average. Abruzzo has set program marks with 298 hits and 205 RBI during his four years at USD.
Depth on the mound has been one of San Diego's main strengths during the season, led by dominating pitching performances from sophomores Brian Matusz and Josh Romanski. Matusz struck out 152 batters during the regular season to set the San Diego single season record, while posting an 8-2 mark and a sparkling 2.43 ERA. Romanski has been just as dominant, notching an 8-1 mark with a 3.20 ERA and tossing three complete games. Matt Couch has done an exceptional job as USD's Sunday starter, posting an 8-2 record in 18 appearances this year. AJ Griffin has been outstanding as USD's closer, saving 10 games with a 6-1 record and a 2.76 ERA.
USD had won 12 straight games before dropping its season finale at Santa Clara, and strung together 17 straight wins against WCC opponents during the 2007 campaign. The Toreros have posted a 23-4 overall mark at Cunningham Stadium this year, including a 9-0 record against the WCC.
WCC Championship Series Schedule
Gonzaga at San Diego - 3:00 PM
Gonzaga at San Diego - 2:00 PM
May 27 (if necessary)
Gonzaga at San Diego - 3:00 PM
Around The WCC
WCC/Rawlings Player of the Week
Jon Karcich, Santa Clara
Jon Karcich batted .364 (4-for-11) with a home run, two doubles, and four RBI as Santa Clara went 2-1 against Stanford and Sacramento State last week. Karcich lifted the Broncos to a 5-3 win over the Hornets on Saturday with his fourth home run of the season.
WCC/Rawlings Pitcher of the Week
Steve Kalush, Santa Clara
Steve Kalush made mound appearances in all three of SCU's games last week, striking out seven batters in 4.1 innings of work against Stanford and Sacramento State. Kalush saved both games in SCU's sweep of the Hornets over the weekend, totalling five strikeouts in 2.1 innings.
WCC Championship Series On The Airwaves
Fans can catch all the WCC Championship Series action from San Diego this weekend, as all three games are slated to be broadcast on radio and on the web. A free live video webcast of the entire schedule of weekend games will be available exclusively at WCCsports.com, while an internet audio broadcast will be available at USDToreros.com and Gonzaga fans can tune into 790 The Fan in Spokane to listen live.
WCC Championship Series Notes
This season marks the ninth annual WCC Baseball Championship Series ... San Diego will be making its third appearance in the event, and will be hosting the series at Cunningham Stadium for the first time ... The Toreros won back-to-back titles in 2002 and 2003, topping Pepperdine in three games on both occasions ... Gonzaga last appeared in the WCC Championship Series in 2001, falling two games to one to Pepperdine in Malibu ... This season will also mark the awarding of Most Outstanding Player and Most Outstanding Pitcher awards for the first time in the history of the event ... Five WCC teams have appeared in the WCC Championship Series, with eight of the nine events taking place in Southern California ... Last year's series in San Francisco was the first held in the Bay Area, while the Northwest has yet to host the championship ... This season marks the first year that Pepperdine has not qualified for the Championship Series since the event's inception in 1999. The Waves posted a 4-4 record in series competition, claiming the title in 2001 and in three straight seasons from 2004-06 ... 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 formation prior to the 2006 campaign, with the Championship Series matching the top two squads in the league standings following the regular season.
WCC Trio Named To USA Baseball National Team
Three WCC standouts were named to the 2007 USA Baseball National Team, as announced by USA Baseball last week. Pepperdine's Brett Hunter joined San Diego's Brian Matusz and Josh Romanski among the first 11 players selected, with the final nine players and two alternates still to be named. Team USA is in preparation for four international series and two international events this summer. Team USA will play in the Pan Am Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the World Port Tournament in The Netherlands.
Pepperdine's Enright And San Diego's Matusz Semifinalists For Prestigious Awards
Pepperdine right-hander Barry Enright and San Diego left-hander Brian Matusz have been named as semifinalists for a trio of prestigious awards. Both were tabbed as semifinalists for the prestigious Golden Spikes Award, presented annually by USA Baseball to college baseball's top player, and both hurlers were named as semifinalists for the Roger Clemens Award, presented to college baseball's top pitcher. In addition, both were named among the 16 semifinalists for the Dick Howser Trophy, presented by the NCBWA. They were also named to the Brooks Wallace Award watch list prior to the season.
WCC Team Notes
Gonzaga Bulldogs (32-23 / 15-6 WCC)
- Gonzaga ended the regular season with a 16-6 loss at Washington last Tuesday to close out the year with a 32-23 overall record.
- The Zags clinched a spot in the WCC Championship Series after taking two-of-three from then-No. 17 ranked Pepperdine in their last conference set to secure second place in the WCC standings. It marks the highest-ever WCC finish for GU, and the Zags' 32 wins are the most for a Bulldog team since the 1990 squad went 37-21.
- Clayton Mortensen struck out 15 batters in a complete-game win over the Waves on May 12 to bring his season strikeouts total to 116, moving him into sole possession of fourth place on the Gonzaga single-season list.
- Darin Holcomb has pounded out a team-high 81 hits for the Zags this season, moving the junior ahead of current Major Leaguer Jason Bay into 10th place on GU's single-season list.
Loyola Marymount Lions (22-33-1 / 9-12 WCC)
- The Lions wrapped up the 2007 season with a 21-2 loss to then-No. 11 ranked Long Beach State on Tuesday at Page Stadium. LMU finished the season with a 22-23-1 overall mark, and a 9-12 record in WCC play.
- Eric Farris finished his junior season with 33 steals, the highest single-season mark by a Lion since the 1970's. Farris increased his career steals total to 60 and moved into a tie for fourth place on the LMU career steals chart with former Lion Bob Sheldon (1969-72).
- Angelo Songco clubbed a WCC-high 22 doubles during his freshman campaign to move into a tie for eighth on the LMU single-season chart.
- Daniel Macias made his 81st career appearance in a Lion uniform on May 13, moving him into sole possession of 10th place on the LMU career appearances list. The senior tossed a gem in his final start, earning a complete-game victory over Portland.
Pepperdine Waves (35-20 / 14-7 WCC)
- The Waves dropped a 5-1 decision to then-No. 12 ranked UC Irvine on Tuesday, but rebounded to sweep Portland on the road over the weekend, closing out the season at 35-20 overall and 14-7 in WCC play.
- Barry Enright improved to 12-4 on the season after striking out eight batters in nine innings to record the win in Sunday's 4-2 victory over UP. It marked the 35th career win for Enright, who moved into a tie with former LMU hurler Tim Layana for fourth place on the WCC career list.
- Chase d'Arnaud has given the Wave offense a spark since missing 12 games due to injury. The sophomore went 5-for-13 (.385) with four RBI against Portland, and finished the regular season with a .333 (56-for-168) batting average.
- Danny Worth needs just one more double to move into a tie for first place on the Pepperdine career chart with 60. He currently ranks ninth on the WCC's all-time doubles list.
Portland Pilots (21-30 / 7-14 WCC)
- Portland pounded Washington State, 16-9, before being swept by Pepperdine at Joe Etzel Field over the weekend to close out the season with a 21-30 overall record and a 7-14 mark in conference play.
- David Gruener tossed his second straight complete game, and his fifth of the season, striking out eight batters and going the distance in Friday's 3-0 loss to Pepperdine.
- Given Kutz also tossed a complete game for the Pilots, working the full nine innings in Saturday's 3-2 defeat. Kutz struck out six Waves to bring his season strikeouts total to 93, which ranks third on the Portland single-season list.
- Chase Powell went 1-for-1 with two runs scored and an RBI in Monday's win over Washington State. Powell finished the campaign with a team-high .321 (51-for-159) batting average.
Saint Mary's Gaels (21-29-1 / 3-18 WCC)
- Saint Mary's closed out the 2007 season with a 21-29-1 overall record, and a 3-18 mark in conference play.
- Eric Cattoni finished off his career at SMC by going 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two stolen bases in a loss to USF on May 13. The senior helped re-write the Saint Mary's record book, scoring 53 runs in 2007 to move into second on the SMC single season list, and finishing his career ranked seventh on the program's all-time chart with 45 stolen bases.
- Anthony Aliotti capped off an outstanding freshman campaign with his first career home run in the season finale. Aliotti ranked second on the team in batting, hitting at a .320 (55-for-172) clip, and went 6-4 in 12 mound appearances on the year.
- Randy Wells batted .354 (63-for-178) to become the first freshman since Bryan Byrne in 2003 to lead the Gaels in hitting.
San Diego Toreros (41-15 / 18-3 WCC)
- San Diego clinched its first-ever WCC regular season title with a pair of wins over Santa Clara on the final weekend of conference play. The Toreros, who claimed back-to-back WCC Championship Series titles in 2002 and 2003, will host the Championship Series for the first time against Gonzaga on May 25-27.
- Brian Matusz struck out 11 batters in the conference-clinching win over the Broncos, and became the Toreros' all-time single-season leader with 152 strikeouts in 2007. The strikeout total also ranks fourth on the WCC single-season chart.
- Kevin Hansen, who is one of seven Torero starters currently batting over .300, drove in the winning run in a 10-inning win over Santa Clara on May 12.
- San Diego ascended to a program-best No. 5 national ranking in the May 14 Baseball America listing and remained in the No. 5 spot this week.
San Francisco Dons (27-28 / 9-12 WCC)
- San Francisco wrapped up the 2007 season on a high note, sweeping Bay Area rival Saint Mary's at Benedetti Diamond to improve to 27-28 and 9-12 in conference play.
- Aaron Poreda tossed seven innings and struck out six batters to earn his seventh win of the season in the series-opening win over SMC. The junior moved into a tie for third place on the USF all-time wins chart with 17, and finished the 2007 season ranked fifth on the Dons' career ERA chart (2.61).
- Jon Norfolk slugged a two-run, walk-off home run to lift the Dons to an 11-10 victory over Saint Mary's in the season finale, marking the fourth career dinger for the senior.
- Tavo Hall became the first student-athlete in over two decades to be named class valedictorian at USF. Hall started 31 games at shortstop this season before suffering an arm injury.
Santa Clara Broncos (27-29 / 9-12 WCC)
- Santa Clara rebounded from a 14-4 loss to Stanford to knock of Sacramento State twice over the weekend. The Broncos finished the season with a 27-29 overall record, and a 9-12 mark in WCC action.
- Tommy Medica slugged his first career home run in Sunday's 5-3 win over the Hornets, capping a 2-for-2 performance to close out an outstanding freshman season. Medica batted a conference-high .373 (60-for-161) on the season, and .400 (34-for-85) in WCC play.
- Steve Kalush earned saves in both of Santa Clara's wins over Sacramento State, tossing a combined 2.1 hitless innings and striking out five batters. The freshman brought his season saves total to four with the back-to-back outings.
- Gabe Alcantar went 2-for-2 with two runs scored and an RBI in Saturday's win. The junior finished the season ranked second on the team with a .343 (71-for-207) batting average.