May 25, 2009
SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University's baseball team will face Georgia Southern University (42-15) at 3 p.m. Pacific time Friday in the opening game of the NCAA Regionals hosted by Cal State Fullerton.
The Bulldogs (35-16) learned their fate Monday morning when the 64-team bracket was announced. The Bulldogs, making their first Regional appearance since 1981, are the third seed while the Eagles are the No. 2 seed. The host Titans (42-14) are the No. 2 national seed and the top seed in the Regional and will face fourth-seed University of Utah (26-29) in Friday's 7 p.m. contest.
Friday's losers meet Saturday at 2 p.m. with the winners squaring off at 6 p.m. in the double-elimination tournament.
Tickets will go on sale Tuesday at 10 a.m. through the Gonzaga ticket office by calling (509) 313-6000. All-tournament reserved seats are $80 and general admission tournament passes are $68. Fans can also go through the Cal State Fullerton ticket office for single game tickets which are $15 for reserved seats and $10 for general admission. Cal State Fullerton also has tournament box seats available for $105 for single-game box seats for $20.
Gonzaga earned the automatic berth from the West Coast Conference by sweeping Loyola Marymount University in the best-of-three series last weekend at Patterson Baseball Complex and Washington Trust Field. Gonzaga won 4-3 in Friday's opener then got a three-home-run, 8-RBI performance from Ryan Wiegand to coast to a 14-3 win Saturday.
Georgia Southern won the Southern Conference Tournament with a 7-3 victory over regular-season champion Elon University Sunday. It was the first SOCON title for the Eagles since 2002. The Eagles finished second during the regular season to Elon.
The Eagles are paced by catcher Griffin Benedict who is hitting .401 with 11 home runs and a team-leading 61 RBI. He has a .627 slugging percentage and a .522 on-base percentage. Benedict tied for second in home runs with three others - right fielder Phillip Porter, leadoff hitter and centerfielder Ty Wright and designated hitter Kyle Blackburn, the SOCON Tournament MVP. Third baseman A.J. Wirnsberger led the team with 13 round trippers. The Eagles hit 80 home runs this season after slapping 114 a year ago.
Chris Moderos is the ace of the Eagles mound staff, bringing an 11-1 record and 3.66 ERA into the Regionals. He had 112 strikeouts in 93.1 innings while walking just 29. Jake Brown and Matt Murray each went 6-3, Brown with 11 starts, Murray with 13. Brown was second on the team in innings pitched with 81.1 and ERA at 4.54 while Murray worked 73.2 innings and posted a 4.76 ERA. Andy Moye had 13 starts a 5-1 record and a 6.60 ERA.
Kyle Kamppi had 30 appearances out of the pen, going 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA and a team-leading eight saves. Charles Matthews (2-0, 3.93) had 28 relief appearances and one save and Dexter Bobo (2-2, 6.62) had 27 appearances and three saves.
Georgia Southern hit .324 as a team and posted a 4.95 ERA, down considerably from the 7.04 team ERA of a year ago.
"We'll try to be business as usual. When you start to change things you run into trouble. We've done things a certain way since day one and there's comfort in that. We need to stay the course and see how much better we can get the next couple of days. What we'll preach is play with confidence and some relaxation and not get overwhelmed," Machtolf said of heading to Regionals.
Machtolf and the Bulldogs don't know much about their first-round opponent.
"Nothing," Machtolf said when asked what he knew about Georgia Southern "We know they finished to second to Elon in the regular season. We need to gather some data on them but I'm sure they are a very good team."
NCAA Regional Schedule
Fullerton, Calif. - Goodwin Field
Friday, May 29
3 p.m. - Georgia Southern (2) vs. Gonzaga (3)
7 p.m. - Cal State Fullerton (1) vs. Utah (4)
Saturday, May 30
2 p.m. - Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2
6 p.m. - Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2
Sunday, May 31
2 p.m. - Winner of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4
6 p.m. - Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 4
Monday, June 1
6 p.m. - Repeat of Game 6 (If Necessary)