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Gonzaga Opens NCAA Regional Play This Weekend

May 27, 2009

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GONZAGA OPENS NCAA REGIONAL PLAY THIS WEEKEND
Gonzaga will be representing the West Coast Conference in this year's NCAA Tournament via the automatic bid, when it won its first ever WCC Championship Series Title last weekend. The Zags have now earned their second national ranking, coming in at No. 19 according to the Baseball America poll, which is their highest since 1981, when they came in at No. 9. Gonzaga was ranked 22nd earlier this year.

Gonzaga captured the program's first ever WCC Championship Series Title with a two-game sweep over LMU last weekend. The Zags earned the conference's automatic bid in front of a WCC Championship Series record 1,376 fans. The Zags will be making their eighth trip to the NCAA Tournament and the first since 1981. That year was also the last time a Gonzaga team won a conference title (Nor-Pac Conference).

The 35 wins this season are the most by any Bulldog team since 1990, when it went 37-21. This also marks the third straight year that the program has posted at least 30 wins, something it has not accomplished in its entire WCC history.

Gonzaga earned a three seed in its regional, which will be hosted by No. 1 seed Cal State Fullerton. The rest of the Fullerton Regional is made up of No. 2 seeded Georgia Southern and No. 4 seeded Utah. The Zags will face Georgia Southern in the first game Friday, scheduled for a start time of 3:00 PM. This season, the Zags are 5-4 against teams competing in this year's NCAA Tournament, including a 1-1 record against fellow regional opponent Utah.

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.

FULLERTON REGIONAL SCHEDULE

All Times PST

FRIDAY, MAY 29
TEAMS LOCATION
TIME
Gonzaga vs. Georgia Southern Fullerton, CA 3:00 PM
Utah at Cal State Fullerton Fullerton, CA 7:00 PM
SATURDAY, MAY 30
TEAMS LOCATION
TIME
Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 Fullerton, CA 2:00 PM
Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 Fullerton, CA 6:00 PM
SUNDAY, MAY 31
TEAMS LOCATION
TIME
Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 Fullerton, CA 2:00 PM
Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 4 Fullerton, CA 6:00 PM
MONDAY, JUNE 1
TEAMS LOCATION
TIME
Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6 (if Necessary) Fullerton, CA 6:00 PM

AROUND THE WCC
West Coast Conference At The NCAA Tournament
  • Gonzaga will be making its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament as a member of the West Coast Conference. The program has made seven other appearances in the tournament in its history, with the last one coming in 1981.

  • WCC teams have posted a 38-31 (.550) record against non-conference opponents that earned selection to the 2009 NCAA Baseball Championship. Gonzaga is 5-4 against these opponents, while LMU (9-3) has posted the best winning percentage against these teams.

  • Seven different WCC programs have combined to appear in 60 NCAA Tournaments since 1955, and have posted a 101-127 (.443) overall record. Pepperdine has made the most appearances among WCC programs with 25, and has recorded a 55-52 (.514) mark in NCAA Tournament play.

  • WCC programs have appeared in the College World Series four times, with Pepperdine winning the NCAA Championship on the program's last visit to Omaha in 1992. The Waves also finished third at the 1979 event, while playing as a member of the Southern California Baseball Association. LMU made its first appearance at the College World Series following the 1986 season, and Santa Clara finished in second place at the CWS in 1962, prior to the beginning of WCC conference play in 1968.

    WCC Championship Series Recaps

    Game 1: Gonzaga 4, LMU 3 It was a pitcher's dual as the Lions' Lee Roberts and the Zags' Matt Fields kept their teams in the game. Roberts had a shutout going into the seventh inning, while Fields gave up just two runs in the second, before allowing another run in the ninth. LMU held a 2-0 lead for most of the game until Gonzaga's Mark Castellito hit a solo home run in the eighth to tie things up. LMU's Shon Roe answered right back with a solo shot of his own to reclaim the lead for the Lions. In the bottom of the ninth, LMU allowed Gonzaga's first batter to reach on an error which started the rally. The Zags went on to load the bases and walk in the tying RBI, before Ryan Wiegand hit the game-winning infield single that dropped in between the pitcher and the shortstop, allowing the game winning run to score.

    Game 2: Gonzaga 14, LMU 3
    Game two was an exact opposite to the series opener as Gonzaga jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. Ryan Wiegand got things started with a three run shot in the first inning to start what would end up being a record day for him. Wiegand would go on to go yard two more times in the game, including a grand slam to give him eight RBI on the day. He ended up beaking the WCC Championship Series record for home runs in a game (3) and RBI in a series (9) as well as tying the record for home runs in a series and RBI in a game. For his efforts, he was a unanimous selection for Most Outstanding Player honors. He was joined by teammate Steven Ames, who won the Most Outstanding Pitcher award. He had a shutout going into the final inning before giving up three runs, one earned, while striking out five.

    Gonzaga's Ames and Wiegand Receive Championship Series Honors
    Steven Ames and Ryan Wiegand were named the Most Outstanding Player and Most Outstanding Pitcher, respectively, for last week's WCC Championship Series. Ames took a shutout into the ninth inning in the series clincher allowing just one earned run in the inning. Wiegand hit the game winning RBI in the series opener and followed that up by leaving game two in no doubt. He compiled three home runs, including a grand slam, and eight RBI to set WCC Championship Series records for home runs in a game and RBI in a series.

    Saint Mary's Troy Channing Wins Triple Crown
    Troy Channing, just a freshman has now become just the third player in WCC history to achieve the Triple Crown, joining Chad Tracy, PEP (2005) and Taggert Bozied, USF (1999). Channing ended the season tied for the league lead in batting average (.379) and led the league in RBI (75) and home runs (20). Considered to be a finalist for National Freshman of the Year honors, he led all freshmen in the country in home runs and RBI per game.

    Channing has already made his mark on the program, setting single season school records for home runs and RBI, as well as ranking fifth on the single season batting average list (.379) and tied for fourth on the hits list (78).

    Saint Mary's Troy Channing Named a Semifinalist for Dick Howser Trophy
    The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and the College Baseball Foundation has released the list of 16 semifinalists for the 2009 Dick Howser Trophy, given to the top player in collegiate baseball. Among those 16 are Saint Mary's freshman third baseman Troy Channing. The 16 candidates hail from nine difference conferences and 16 difference schools, of the 16 players Channing is one of two freshmen on the list. Criteria for the trophy include performance on the field, leadership, moral character and courage, qualities that were exemplified by Dick Hower's life.

    LMU's Angelo Songco named a Semifinalist for 2009 Golden Spikes Award
    Junior Angelo Songco was named one of 30 semifinalists for the 2009 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award (GSA). The native of Granada Hills, Calif. is the only player from the WCC that is on the list. This year will mark the 32nd consecutive year that the award has been presented to the nation's premier amateur baseball player.

    Songco recently concluded another stellar year for the Lions in 2009. He finished the campaign as the team-leader in nine offensive categories. His .360 batting average, .678 slugging percentage, .481 on base percentage, 63 RBI, 15 home runs, 77 hits, 65 runs scored, 41 walks and 145 total bases all placed him tops on the team, while his three triples, 11 hit-by-pitches and five stolen bases ranked second overall. His walk and runs totals, along with his on base percentage, placed him first in the West Coast Conference, while his home runs, slugging percentage, total bases and RBI all ranked second.

    WCC Baseball Places Four on the 2009 ESPN The Magazine/CoSida Academic All-District VIII Team
    The West Coast Conference was awarded four players on this year's 2009 ESPN the Magazine/CoSida Academic All-District VIII First Team, which was the most placed by any conference in the district. Evan Wells of Gonzaga University, Ryan Wheeler of Loyola Marymount University, Bryant Kraus of the University of Portland, and Drew Johnson of the University of San Francisco all made the team. All four players are now eligible to earn Academic All-America honors.

    Nominations and voting for the CoSIDA Academic All-District Teams is conducted by members of the College Sports Information Directors of America. District VIII consists of schools located in California, Hawaii, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington.

    WCC April Player of the Month: Tyson Van Winkle, GON
    Tyson Van Winkle of Gonzaga went 33-for-67 (.493) to lead all hitters during the month of April. He tallied seven doubles, two home runs, and 20 RBI while slugging at .687 and reaching base at a clip of .551. In 16 games over the month, he had 12 multi-hit games, an eight game hitting streak, and had back-to-back games of five and four hits. He also had six multi-RBI games and had a hit in eight straight plate appearances at one point.

    WCC April Pitcher of the Month: Lee Roberts, LMU
    Lee Roberts of LMU went a perfect 4-0 during the month helping his team into a tie for first place in the conference standings. In 31 innings, he struck out 25 with a 3.48 ERA while holding batters to a .231 average. He also registered a complete game, second of the season, in April and went at least seven innings in all four starts, averaging 6.25 strikeouts a contest.

    WCC Teams Garner Preseason Rankings
    San Diego and Pepperdine were each listed among the nation's elite in numerous rankings heading into the 2009 campaign. The Waves were ranked No. 8 and the Toreros checked in at No. 15 in the Rivals.com rankings. The Toreros came in at No. 11, while the Waves finished 17th by Baseball America. The USA Today/ESPN poll had the Toreros at No. 15, while the Waves came in at No. 21. The Toreros finished 18th in the NCBWA poll, while the Waves were ranked No. 21.

    San Diego
    Baseball America - No. 11
    USA TODAY/ESPN - No. 15
    Rivals.com - No. 15
    Collegiate Baseball - No. 17
    Pingbaseball.com - No. 17
    NCBWA - No. 18

    Pepperdine
    Rivals.com - No. 8
    Pingbaseball.com - No. 12
    Baseball America - No. 17
    USA TODAY/ESPN - No. 21
    NCBWA - No. 21
    Collegiate Baseball - No. 23

    WCC's Preseason All-Americans
    Seven WCC standouts were tabbed for 2009 preseason All-American honors, with two earning first team recognition. San Diego's AJ Griffin earned first team honors by the NCBWA and third team honors by Collegiate Baseball, while teammate Victor Sanchez earned third team honors by Baseball America. Joining Griffin with first team honors is Pepperdine's Bryce Mendonca, who was recognized by Collegiate Baseball. Also recognized by Collegiate Baseball were Santa Clara's Thain Simon with second team honors and Tommy Medica with third team honors. Joining Medica on the third team were Pepperdine's Nick Gaudi and Saint Mary's Kyle Jensen.

    Four WCC Hurlers Named to Stopper of the Year Watch List
    Four WCC pitchers were among the 40 players named to the initial watch list for the fourth annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Stopper of the Year Award, the association announced Tuesday. Gonzaga RHP Cody Martin, Pepperdine RHP Nick Gaudi, San Diego RHP AJ Griffin, and Santa Clara right hander Thain Simon were each named to the preseason watch list for the award, which is presented to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball. The West Coast Conference enjoyed the second highest amount of players from any conference to be named to the list, following the ACC with nine. The Big 12 also placed four, while the SEC and Pac-10 had three each.

    WCC Standouts Named to Wallace Award Watch List
    Eight WCC players headline the 2009 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List. The Wallace Award is presented annually to the nation's top collegiate baseball player in conjunction with the College Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. The 2009 award banquet will be at 7 p.m., Thursday, July 2, in the United Spirit Arena on the campus of Texas Tech University.

    San Diego led the way with junior All-American closer AJ Griffin along with sophomore right-hander Kyle Blair and sophomore lefty Sammy Solis. Also on the list from the WCC were senior Ryan Wheeler of Loyola Marymount, sophomore Riley Henricks of Portland, sophomore Thain Simon of Santa Clara, junior Kyle Jensen of Saint Mary's, and sophomore Matt Lujan of San Francisco.

    Player, School              2008 Key StatsKyle Blair, USD             3.86 ERA, 99 SOA.J. Griffin, USD           2.15 ERA, 14 SVRiley Henricks, POR         .301, 69 hits, 8 HRKyle Jensen, SMC            .421, 82 hits, 13 HRMatt Lujan, USF             3.19 ERA, 7 winsThain Simon, SCU            2.59 ERA, 9 winsSammy Solis, USD            3.83 ERA, 42 SORyan Wheeler, LMU           .345, 70 hits, 20 2B

    LMU Names Jason Gill Head Coach
    Jason Gill begins his first year at the helm of the LMU baseball program after serving as an assistant coach for the Lions in 1999 and 2000. Gill, who has spent the last four years working under head coach George Horton at Oregon and Cal State Fullerton, returns to the bluff to become the seventh head coach of the Lions' program. Overall, Coach Gill has been to Omaha four times as a player and a coach, to the postseason a total of nine times, coached four Conference Players of the Year, and has seen 14 of his student-athletes make the Major Leagues.

    San Diego and Pepperdine Picked to Finish First in 2009 WCC Preseason Poll
    San Diego and Pepperdine were chosen to finish as West Coast Conference champions in the 2009 preseason baseball poll, as selected by conference coaches. The Toreros, who have been ranked as high as No. 11 in the national preseason polls, received the same amount of points as Pepperdine, but garnered one more first place vote. San Diego is coming off the most successful season in program history, as the Toreros compiled a 44-17 overall record en route to the WCC crown in 2008. Pepperdine earned three first place votes and was picked second with 45 overall points, while Santa Clara checked in at No. 3 in the poll with 32 points. Gonzaga nabbed the last first place vote, receiving 30 points to come in at No. 4. San Francisco, off a fourth place finish from last year, was picked to finish No. 5, with 26 points. LMU, under first year Head Coach Jason Gill, is expected to finish sixth, with 20 points. Saint Mary's and Portland round out this year's preseason poll, earning 14 and nine points respectively.

    WCC Baseball Preseason Poll
    1. San Diego - 45 (4)
    Pepperdine - 45 (3)
    3. Santa Clara - 35
    4. Gonzaga - 30 (1)
    5. San Francisco - 26
    6. LMU - 20
    7. Saint Mary's - 14
    8. Portland - 9
    (first place votes)


  • WCC TEAM NOTES

    SCHOOL TEAM NOTES

    Overall Record: 35-16
    WCC Record: 14-7
  • Gonzaga took home its first ever WCC Championship Series Title with a two-game sweep over LMU. The No. 3 seeded Zags will head down to play at the Fullerton Regional against No. 2 seed Georgia Southern.

  • SR RHP Matt Fields and JR RHP Steven Ames both went the distance in their two wins. Ames was awarded Most Outstanding Pitcher as he had a shutout going into the ninth before giving up just one earned run.

  • SR 1B Ryan Wiegand had a huge series in earning Most Outstanding Player honors. In the first game, he hit the game-winning RBI single. He followed that up with a record-breaking performance in game two, where he belted three home-runs, including a grand slam to finish with nine RBI over the series.

  • Fields was awarded this year's WCC Pitcher of the Year, while he, SR OF Anthony Synegal, JR C Tyson Van Winkle, and Wiegand were all awarded All-WCC first team honors.
  • Overall Record: 30-29
    WCC Record: 13-8
  • Loyola Marymount fell to Gonzaga in the WCC Championship Series, losing in two straight.

  • SR RHP Lee Roberts had a shutout going into the seventh inning in the series opener, before allowing the two tying runs. FR OF Evan Simonitsch gave the Lions the early lead with a two-run double in the second, while classmate Shon Roe gave them their second lead with a solo home run in the ninth.

  • SO 2B Jonathan Johnson finished tied for fourth in the Lions' single-season list with his seven triples, while JR OF Angelo Songco's 34 career home runs ties him for the seventh spot on the career list.

  • Johnson, Roberts, and JR 1B Ryan Wheeler were all placed on the All-WCC first team, while LHP Ryan Hawthorne and Roe were placed on the All-Freshman team.
  • Overall Record: 31-23
    WCC Record: 12-9
  • The Waves went undefeated to close the season, defeating No. 18 Cal Poly, before sweeping Santa Clara and finished in a tie for third place in the league.

  • SR INF Denny Duron was awarded this year's WCC Defensive Player of the Year Award, going 42 games committing just three errors with a .982 fielding percentage. SO LHP Matt Bywater, SR RHP Nick Gaudi, and SR OF Nate Simon were all awarded All-WCC first team honors.

  • In the series opener against the Broncos, Pepperdine had four players with at least three hits, led by JR INF Colin Rooney, who went 4-for-5 with three runs scored and three driven in.

  • Gaudi collected nine saves on the season to tie for the league lead and has 25 for his career to place him in a tie for the third spot on the WCC's all-time career saves list.

  • The Waves closed out the season with a loss to No. 4 Cal State Fullerton.
  • Overall Record: 25-26
    WCC Record: 7-14
  • The Pilots went 2-3 to end the season, splitting with Washington State, before going 1-2 against San Francisco and finish the season in seventh place.

  • The 25 wins are the most in one season during head coach Chris Sperry's 12-year tenure.

  • In the win over the Dons, SO RHP Zach Varce tossed a complete-game shutout, allowing seven hits while striking out eight. In his last five appearances, he has gone 19.2 innings, allowing just two runs in that span while punching out 20 batters. He ends the season tied for the league lead in saves with nine, which also ties him for first on the UP all-time single season list.

  • FR INF Kris Kauppila ends the season as the team leader with 72 hits and 20 doubles. He ends a phenomenal rookie campaign in which he went the entire year without going hitless in back-to-back games. His 72 hits ties him for fourth on the UP all-time single season list, while his 20 doubles ties him for second.
  • Overall Record: 28-27
    WCC Record: 9-12
  • The Gaels closed out the season with a loss against New Mexico and finished sixth in the conference standings.

  • FR 3B Troy Channing earned this year's WCC Freshman of the Year Award and came close to becoming just the third player in WCC history to win the Triple Crown as he ranked first in the league in home runs (20) and RBI (75), while ranking second in batting average (.379).

  • Channing, a leading candidate for national freshman of the year honors, was one of two freshmen, and one of 16 players overall, named a semifinalist for the coveted Dick Howser Trophy, one of the most prestigious awards in college baseball. He ends his freshman campaign tied for eighth on the WCC's all-time single season list for RBI (75) and tied for sixth in home runs (20).

  • Channing, JR OF Kyle Jensen, and SR RHP Brian Justice were all awarded All-WCC first team honors.
  • Overall Record: 29-25
    WCC Record: 11-10
  • San Diego ended the regular season on a high-note, defeating No. 1 ranked UC Irvine last week with a seven run ninth inning.

  • JR UTL James Meador won this year's WCC Player of the Year Award after ranking first in conference play in batting (.438), hits (39), and total bases (60).

  • JR RHP AJ Griffin shutout UC Irvine through seven innings, giving up just five hits and striking out seven. Griffin is tied for the top spot on the WCC's all-time career saves list with 28.

  • The Toreros end the regular season as the top ranked hitting team in the conference with a .319 team batting average, led by SO INF Zach Walters (.377) and Meador (.376) who ranked third and fourth in the conference.

  • Griffin, Meador, SR INF Sean Nicol, and Walters were all awarded All-WCC first team honors.
  • Overall Record: 28-28
    WCC Record: 12-9
  • San Francisco went 2-2 to finish the season, falling to San Diego State, before going 2-1 at Portland, to finish tied for third in the conference standings.

  • SR OF Zach Kim stole seven bases over the week on his way to breaking the Dons' all-time single season record. He finished the season with 42 on the year, tying him for the fifth spot on the WCC's all-time single season list. For the week, he went 5-for-12 (.417), with three doubles, a triple, and two RBI en route to earning his second WCC/Rawlings Player of the Week Award.

  • JR RHP Doug Murray picked up his ninth win of the year against Portland and is the only pitcher in the conference to go undefeated this season at 9-0. His nine wins place him fourth on the Dons' all-time single season list.

  • SR INF Dane Braunecker, SR OF Drew Johnson, Kim, Murray, and JR Derek Poppert were all awarded All-WCC first team honors.
  • Overall Record: 19-34
    WCC Record: 6-15
  • The Broncos went winless to close out the season, losing to UC Davis, before getting swept by Pepperdine. They ended the season with a loss to No. 19 Cal Poly this week.

  • JR C Geoff Klein ended the season as the league leader in batting average (.386) and hits with 81.

  • JR INF Jon Karcich ended the season on a hot streak, hitting safely in 11 straight games and scoring at least one run in a seven game stretch during that span.

  • JR RHP Nate Garcia ended the season as the league leader in strikeouts (96) and innings pitched (95.2) and is the only pitcher in the conference to average over seven innings per appearance (7.36).

  • Garcia, Karcich, and Klein were all awarded All-WCC first team honors this year.