May 23, 2007
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - This weekend's WCC Baseball Championship Series showdown between Gonzaga and No. 5 San Diego will be shown exclusively on WCCsports.com on WCC All-Access. Fans can catch the free live video webcast of the entire schedule of weekend games by simply signing up for the WCC's free All-Access.
WCC CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES SCHEDULE
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, a first team all-conference member, 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, also named to the All-WCC first team, 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, the WCC Pitcher of the Year, has enjoyed a phenomenal senior campaign, posting an 8-2 overall record and striking out 116 batters to rank second in the WCC. Mortensen, who is the first Gonzaga hurler to take home the WCC's top pitching honor, notched a perfect 6-0 record in seven starts against league competition. The Rexburg, ID native brandished a 1.60 ERA that ranked second in conference play, and struck out a circuit-best 63 WCC batters. 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, who was named the WCC Player of the Year, 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, as the Toreros' weekend starting rotation of sophomores Brian Matusz and Josh Romanski, and junior Matt Couch were named to the All-WCC first team. 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. Couch has done an exceptional job as USD's Sunday starter, posting an 8-2 record in 18 appearances this year. Freshman AJ Griffin, also named to the All-WCC first team, 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 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.