May 24, 2006
USF CAPTURES FIRST WEST COAST CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP: USF swept Loyola Marymount in the final regular season West Coast Conference series and secured the first league title in program history. The Dons advance to their first postseason appearance May 26-28 when they host co-WCC champs Pepperdine in a best of three series at Benedetti Diamond. Both teams closed the season with a 15-6 league slate, but San Francisco hosts by virtue of taking two of three in Malibu April 7-9. A charter member of the conference, the Dons began competing in the WCC in the first year of baseball sponsorship in 1968. Prior to last season's runner-up showing, San Francisco posted just one second place conference finish in 1971.
WCC CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES TELEVISED BY FOX SPORTS NET: All games of the 2006 West Coast Conference Championship Series will be televised by Fox Sports Net. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 PM on Friday and Sunday (if necessary, will be tape-delayed) with a noon start Saturday. Rich Cellini will handle the play-by-play, while John Jackson adds the color commentary.
DONS STREAKING: USF finished the 2006 regular season on a tear, winning a season-high nine straight, including back-to-back West Coast Conference series sweeps at Saint Mary's (5/6-5/8) and against Loyola Marymount (5/12-5/14). The Dons offense hit at a sizzling .347 clip with 20 doubles, five triples and eight home runs, while outscoring their opponents 74-32. USF held a dominating 30-3 scoring advantage in its last three games, capped by a 15-1 dismantling of No. 29 Hawaii (5/16) in the 2006 regular season finale. San Francisco pitching turned in a 2.71 ERA during the span and struck out 73 while allowing 18 walks in the team's longest winning streak since a 10-game string last year (3/11-3/26/05).
IT ALL BEGINS WITH PITCHING: USF's pitching staff enjoyed another strong season on the mound, compiling a dazzling 3.49 team ERA, which at the conclusion of the 2006 regular season ranked third best in program history and rated 21st among NCAA Division I leaders. The Dons posted the best team ERA in program history in 2005 with a 2.86 showing, good for seventh place among Division I leaders. San Francisco's 1971 club which posted a runner-up West Coast Conference finish rates second with a 2.90 mark. Senior right-hander Patrick McGuigan ranks second among NCAA victory leaders with 11, while sophomore left-hander Aaron Poreda is in the top-40 in individual ERA (37/2.14).
USF CRACKS REGULAR SEASON TOP-25 POLLS FOR THE FIRST TIME: USF baseball earned national recognition when the 2006 West Coast Conference Champions earned the first regular season top-25 rankings in school history as released Monday, May 22. The Diamond Dons made their debut in the Baseball America Poll at No. 23, earned No. 24 in the Collegiate Baseball Poll and entered at No. 25 in the Rosenblatt Report.
Scott Cousins NAMED 2006 WCC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Junior OF/LHP Scott Cousins earned 2006 West Coast Conference Player of the Year honors, capping a dominant season on the mound and at the plate. Cousins becomes just the second Don ever named as the league's top player and first since former three-time All-American Taggert Bozied earned the honor in 1999 after leading the nation in home runs with 30 en route to capturing the first triple crown in the modern era of the WCC. Cousins posted a 4-2 record on the mound with a 3.03 ERA and tossed a pair of complete games during league action, including a shutout against No. 24 San Diego (4/28). The Reno native was equally spectacular at the plate, batting .352 with 12 doubles, two triples, six home runs and 44 RBI to go along with 21 stolen bases. Cousins earned four WCC Player of the Week honors and was named WCC Player of the Month for April.
Patrick McGuigan NAMED 2006 WEST COAST CONFERENCE CO-PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Senior right-hander Patrick McGuigan achieved yet another milestone in an outstanding career when he captured 2006 West Coast Conference Co-Pitcher of the Year honors. McGuigan becomes the first Don in school history to be named league's top pitcher and shares the accolade with Pepperdine's Barry Enright. McGuigan recorded a 5-1 mark in league play in 2006, appearing in 10 games with six starts during WCC competition, posting a 3.12 ERA and nailing down three saves in addition to his five victories. The Honolulu, HI native was one of just three league pitchers to toss a shutout in WCC play during the 2006 campaign with a 2-0 masterpiece at No. 22 Pepperdine (4/9). McGuigan ranks second among career wins leaders (21) and is the all-time saves leader (17).
Nino Giarratano NAMED 2006 WCC COACH OF THE YEAR: After yet another record setting year, USF head coach Nino Giarratano was selected by his peers as the West Coast Conference Coach of the Year. Giarratano catapulted the Dons to its first ever WCC title, inaugural postseason appearance and has San Francisco poised for the first NCAA Regional berth in program history. The last two seasons have been nothing short of outstanding as the Dons posted 75 wins since the start of the 2005 campaign - the most in consecutive years in school history and the first time a USF team in any sport has posted 30 victories in back-to-back years - to go along with 35 WCC wins, also tops for the Diamond Dons in a two-year span. In his eighth season on the Hilltop, Giarratano ranks second in career wins (220) behind only USF Legend and Hall-of-Famer Dante Benedetti (373).
RECORD NINE DIAMOND DONS EARN ALL-WCC HONORS: Following the first West Coast Conference title in program history, a school record nine USF players earned all-league honors as announced by the conference office Wednesday, May 24. Nino Giarratano was selected by his peers as WCC Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season, while junior utility player Scott Cousins captured WCC Player of the Year honors becoming just the second Don ever named as the league's top player (Taggert Bozied, 1999). A school record four players earned first team selection as senior outfielder Stefan Gartrell, senior right-hander Patrick McGuigan, sophomore left-hander Aaron Poreda joined Cousins. It is the second straight first team honor for Cousins, who along with Gartrell were unanimous selections. Senior shortstop Andrew Smith captured second team selection, while junior designated hitter Blake Nelson, sophomore infielder Joey Railey, sophomore outfielder Luke Sommer and junior left-hander Cole Stipovich earned honorable mention selection. Sommer also was named honorable mention as a freshman in 2005. Eight Diamond Dons earned all-conference accolades last season.
Stefan Gartrell - WCC RBI KING: Senior outfielder Stefan Gartrell turned in one of the top offensive seasons in USF history and led the West Coast Conference in RBI with 62 during the regular season. The San Francisco native is the first Don to pace the league in RBI since former three-time All-American Taggert Bozied set the USF record with 82 in 1999 en route to WCC Player of the Year honors.
SCOUTING PEPPERDINE: The Waves finished the 2006 regular season on a roll, winning five straight and 13-15 to finish with a record of 38-18 and a share of the West Coast Conference title with a 15-6 league record. Pepperdine plays well on the road with a 17-9 slate. On the year, three Waves hit above the .350 mark with senior infielder David Uribes - the WCC career hits leader paces the pack at .374. Sophomore outfielder Adrian Ortiz bats .364 and senior infielder Nick Kliebert hits at a .360 clip. Junior catcher Chad Tracy is batting .323 with 18 doubles, four triples and five homeruns and leads the team with 41 RBI. The Waves own a strong rotation, headlined by sophomore right-hander Barry Enright, who owns an impressive 12-1 mark on the season with a 4.01 ERA and a 59/19 strikeout/walk ratio. Four other pitchers have five wins or more, with senior right-hander James Johnson and senior left-hander Paul Coleman having six wins and sophomore right-hander Jason Dominguez and freshman right-hander Brett Hunter coming in with five each. Hunter also leads the Waves with 10 saves. Pepperdine is competing in its eighth consecutive WCC Championship Series and has captured two straight automatic berths in the NCAA Regionals.