Aug. 1, 2006
Lion fans can relive the 2005-06 West Coast Conference Commissioner's Cup all summer on www.LMULions.com as we look back on cup-clinching moments each week. In this 11th installment, we look at the team that clinched the Cup for the Lions: LMU baseball. In the final weekend of WCC baseball competition, the Lions needed just one win at Portland to bring home the Commissioner's Cup. LMU swept the Pilots on the road to put an exclamation point on the 2005-06 season for Lion athletics.
The defensive-minded Lions were in the fight for theWest Coast Conference title until the end. The 2006LMU squad was the final team to be eliminated from theWest Coast Conference Championship Series race,just missing its third straight WCC title series appearance.LMU finished in the conference's top half in aseason that saw the WCC send three teams to theNCAA Championships. The Lions registered six winsagainst ranked opponents and four against teams thatwent on to the NCAA Championships, including victoryover then-top-ranked Cal State Fullerton for thesecond straight season.
LIONS POST TOP DEFENSIVE SEASON
With a .970 overall team fielding percentage, the Lionswere one of the best defensive teams in the nation. Themark equaled the program's second-best all-time mark,second only to the 1990 team's .972 effort. Of the 285Division I teams, the Lions' .970 fielding percentageranked them 33rd. In West Coast Conference play,LMU improved its average to .973.
THE WCC TITLE HUNT
The Lions were the final team eliminated from the 2006WCC Championship Series race, as the hunt for theWCC title came down to the end of the season. LMUhad strung together four straight wins before droppingthree at San Francisco in mid-May. With those wins,USF and Pepperdine clinched the 2006 WCC ChampionshipSeries berth. The Lions secured a fourth placefinish in conference the next weekend with a sweep ofPortland on the road. That sweep clinched LMU's firstWCC Commissioners' Cup, awarded to theconference's top athletic department.
PETTIT, MURA DRAFTED
A pair of Lions were given the opportunity to continue theirbaseball careers after being drafted in the 2006 MLB Draft.Chris Pettit and Kyle Mura were selected by the LosAngeles Angels of Anaheim and the St. Louis Cardinals.The Angels used their 19th round selection to choose Pettit.Pettit was selected as the 582nd overall pick. With the1275th overall pick, the Cardinals selected Mura in the42nd round. Mura, the son of former MLB player SteveMura, had been a 49th round pick of the Chicago Cubs inthe 2005 draft, but returned to LMU for his senior campaign.Pettit, a four-year starter for LMU, was selected bya fellow Lion, Angels scout Bobby DeJardin (1986-88).Pettit finished his LMU career ranking in the top-10 all-timein five different offensive categories. Most notably, Pettitwas among LMU's top-5 baserunners, finishing with 57career stolen bases. Baseball America called the SanDimas, Calif. native the West Coast Conference's bestbaseunner. He completed his four years as a .304 hitter.He was a 2005 first-team All-WCC selection and was afour-time WCC Player of the Week. Pettit was named tothe Brooks Wallace Award Watch List heading into hissenior campaign. A two-way player who spent most of histime in a Lion uniform at third base, Mura was drafted as apitcher by the Cardinals. He set a LMU record for assistsin a game, with 12 assists in a game in 2005. Mura was anhonorable mention All-WCC pick in 2004 and was tabbedboth the WCC's "best infield arm" (2005) and "best defensivethird baseman" (2006) by Baseball America.
DOUBLE OR NOTHING
The NCAA collects and ranks all Division I teams in avariety of statistical categories. In addition to team fieldingpercentage, LMU also ranked among the nation's best indoubles per game. The Lions averaged 2.16 doubles pergame to rank 28th in the nation. Individually, sophomoreSean Dovel ranked 14th in the nation with .42 doubles pergame. That mark placed Dovel in the LMU all-time recordbook with 22 doubles in a season.
JOHNSON, MEYERS HIGHLIGHT LMU'S ALLWCCSELECTIONS
Two Lions were among the WCCs top players this season,as outlined by the 2006 all-conference selections.Senior Erik Johnson highlighted the LMU selections,making it the second straight season an LMU outfielderhas been a first-team selection. Sophomore Brad Meyersjoined Johnson as an All-WCC selection, earning second-team honors. Lee Roberts was named to theconference's All-Freshman team, while four Lions earnedhonorable mention recognition.
Johnson, a unanimous selection of the WCC coaches,was one of 14 conference players named to the firstteam.The Lions' outfielder was just one of five players tohit over .400 in WCC play. He finished with a .573slugging percentage and a .441 on-base percentage,reaching base in every WCC game. Johnson added ateam-best 16 RBI and three home runs.
Meyers earned a second-team selection after going 4-2with a 3.25 ERA in WCC play. He worked 52 2/3innings with a strikeout to walk ratio of 35 to 16. Meyerswas at his best in the WCC opener against 19th-rankedPepperdine, earning the win after holding the Waves toone run on five hits in his eight and 2/3 innings.
All-WCC All-Freshman Team
Roberts was one of 10 rookies named to the inauguralWCC All-Freshman team. One of the great stories of2006, Roberts walked on to the team this fall after notmaking the squad as a true freshman in the fall of 2004.The right-handed reliever went from being a walk-on to ago-to guy for the Lions, making a team-leading 11 appearancesin WCC play. He posted a 1.80 ERA withthree saves in 15 innings of work. Only two of his 17hits allowed were extra base hits, and both were doubles.
All-WCC Honorable Mention
Also receiving All-WCC honorable mention recognitionwere sophomore Sean Dovel, second baseman EricFarris, shortstop Casey Gordon, and starting pitcherDaniel Macias. Dovel led all WCC catchers with a .338batting average and led all league players in doubles.This marks his second season of All-WCC honorablemention recognition. Farris, a 2005 All-WCC secondteamselection, posted one of the WCC's top-15 battingaverages after hitting .353 in league play. Gordon's WCCseason was highlighted by a 4-for-4 effort that led LMUto the 7-3 win over then-23rd-ranked San Diego. Maciasfinished WCC play with a team-best ERA of 3.12. Hewas named the WCC's Pitcher of the Week after twohittingGonzaga in a complete game shutout, and allowedjust 17 hits in his final 23 2/3 innings of work inleague play. The selections made by the eight WCChead coaches were based on performance by positionin conference play.
LMU AND THE WCC CHAMPIONSHIPS
San Francisco and Pepperdine earned the right to playfor the WCC title in 2006, despite the Lions' final push.While San Francisco hosted this year's battle, LMUwas the site of the last two title series. The Lions haveappeared in four WCC Championship Series in its eightseasons of existence.
BEATING THE BEST
Facing the nation's ninth-toughest non-conference schedule,LMU picked up six victories over ranked programs.The Lions topped then-31st-ranked Arizona 12-5 on theroad in the season-opening series. LMU then earned awin in its home opener, defeating then-25th-ranked CalPoly 10-8. In the WCC-opening series, LMU took twofrom 19th-ranked Pepperdine to win the series. The Lionswent on to earn victories over 23rd-ranked SanDiego and top-ranked Cal State Fullerton.
2-HITTER LEADS TO WCC PITCHER OF THEWEEK NOD FOR MACIAS
After a career outing against Gonzaga, Daniel Maciaswas named the WCC's Pitcher of the Week. It is thethird Pitcher of the Week selection for the Lions in 2006,and the first career selection for Macias. Macias tosseda complete game two-hit shutout to lead LMU to theWCC series sweep over Gonzaga at Page Stadium.Sunday's 5-0 win made LMU a perfect 4-0 for the week.Macias opened the day by retiring the first 10 Bulldogshe faced. He went on to face 31 batters over the nineinnings, just four batters over the minimum 27. TheLions' left-hander allowed just two hits, while striking outtwo in his first career complete game. Macias joinsBrad Meyers as the two pitchers to receive the WCC'sPitcher of the Week selection this season. Meyers hasearned the nod twice.
CRUZ HITS WCC MILESTONE
With a WCC victory at San Diego on April 14, LMUHead Coach Frank Cruz reached the 150 career WCCwin mark. Cruz, a three-time WCC Coach of the Year,is in his 10th season at the helm of the LMU program.He ranks second among active coaches and eighth alltimein WCC victories. The win also placed Cruz at the275 overall career win milestone.
JOHNSON PUTS UP 24-GAME HIT STREAK
Dating back to LMU's game against Long Beach Stateon March 7, Lions' senior Erik Johnson tallied a hit ineach game through LMU's win over top-ranked CalState Fullerton on April 18. His mark of 24 consecutivegames is LMU's longest hitting streak since the programrecord of 27 was set in 1988 by Don Sparks. Thebaseball website Boyd's World believes it to be one ofthe 10 longest hitting streaks in the nation in 2006.
PETTIT NAMED WCC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
LMU's Chris Pettit has been named the West CoastConference Player of the Week, the conference announcedMonday, March 13. Pettit paced the Lions'weekend attack on New Mexico State that saw LMUoutscore the Aggies 46-14 on the road. The Lions'outfielder went 9-for-17 on the week for a .529 battingaverage over four games. He added 10 RBI, eightruns scored, and two home runs. Both home runscame in Saturday's 17-3 win. While the selection isthe first of the 2006 season for Pettit, it is the fourthcareer WCC Player of the Week honor for the senior.
LMU BATTERY SWEEPS WCC HONORS
A WCC opening series win against 19th-rankedPepperdine led to a sweep of the weekly honors forthe Lions. LMU's battery of Friday starter Brad Meyersand catcher Sean Dovel were named the WCC'sPitcher and Player of the Week. In Friday's win,Meyers carried a shutout into the ninth inning andallowed five hits in his 8.2 innings of work. He facedjust 32 batters after retiring the side in the first, third,seventh, and eighth innings. The sophomore righthanderfinished with four strikeouts and improved to 5-2 on the season. This week's WCC Pitcher of theWeek selection marks the second honor for Meyers,who also earned the nod on February 27 after throwinga complete game at San Jose State. Dovel hit .583 (7-for-12) against the 19th-ranked Waves to help leadLMU to the WCC series win. The sophomore finishedthe weekend with five doubles, five runs scored, andfour RBI. Dovel's third double of the game Saturdaywas key to the Lions' win, as it leadoff the ninth to startthe rally. Later that inning, he crossed the plate to givethe Lions the 11-10 walk-off win. The selection is thefirst career nod for the catcher, who earned WCChonorable mention recognition as a freshman.
MEYERS MASTERFUL IN MARCH
Brad Meyers went 4-0 during the month of March, earningtwo wins on the road and three at home including theWCC opener against the 19th-ranked Pepperdine Waves.Meyers worked 37.2 innings on the month, but allowedjust 11 earned runs for an ERA of 2.63 during March.With Meyers on the mound, the Lions outscored opponents41-15 over his five appearances. He allowed just26 hits, while striking out 18. Opponents hit just .197 offof him. At Cal State Northridge, Meyers earned a combinedshutout win after throwing seven scoreless inningswith just one hit and one walk. He retired the game's first10 batters, and after he allowed his only hit in the fourth,he went on to retire the next eight. He faced 22 batters,just one over the minimum 21 through seven innings andthrew just 76 pitches. The only hit he allowed was a buntsingle. In Friday's win over 19th-ranked Pepperdine,Brad Meyers carried a shutout into the ninth inning andallowed just five hits in his 8.2 innings of work. He facedjust 32 batters after retiring the side in the first, third,seventh, and eighth innings. The sophomore right-handerfinished with four strikeouts.
MEYERS NAMED WCC PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Brad Meyers was named the West Coast ConferencePitcher of the Week on February 27. The sophomorethrew a complete game without a walk to lead the Lionsto a 3-2 victory on the road at San Jose State. It was thefirst career complete game for Meyers, who was selectedas the WCC's Top Draft Prospect by BaseballAmerica in January. The selection also marks his firstWCC Pitcher of the Week selection. Meyers worked thenine innings without issuing a walk. He struck out acareer-high six batters and allowed just one extra basehit to pick up his first win of 2006. The complete gameeffort marked the first of 2006 for the Lion pitching staff andthe first since May 7, 2005, when Stephen Kahn (SeattleMariners) threw nine at Saint Mary's.
WILSON DOUBLE-TROUBLE FOR GAUCHOS
Brian Wilson hit .400 (4-for-10) - including a game-winningdouble - and earned a win on the mound as theLions won the home series with UCSB in early March.The freshman added three RBI, a run scored, and twodoubles at the plate. In the Lions' 2-0 win on Saturday,Wilson threw the final 2.1 scoreless innings to earn thewin, while driving in the winning run with a double in theeighth. On the mound, he allowed just one hit whilestriking out three. It was the first career decision for Wilson,who combined with starter Andy Beal for LMU'sfirst shutout of the season. In Saturday's eighth inning,Wilson's double to right center drove in the first run of thegame. The Lions then made it 2-0 when Wilson crossedthe plate on a sacrifice fly.
LIONS RACK UP THE PRESEASON HONORS
If Baseball America's preseason predictions prove to betrue, LMU will have four All-WCC first-team selectionsand 2007's top WCC draft pick. When the national publicationreleased its annual preseason picks, Lions werelisted all among the WCC's Best Tools, including awardingBest Baserunner to Pettit. The publication then tabbedthe LMU infield as the best defensive infield in the conferencewhen it named A.J. LaMonda the WCC's best firstbaseman, Farris the best second baseman, and Murathe best third baseman.
ON THE SCHEDULE
Playing tough teams again this season, Boyd's Worldhas rated LMU's schedule among the most challenging20 schedules in the nation. LMU ranks 17th on the Boyd'sWorld Strength of Schedule poll for its overall schedule,and ninth in the nation for its non-conference schedule.The Lions will face 25 games against teams listed amongthe nation's best in the Collegiate Baseball poll. Fiveopponents off the 2006 schedule participated in the 2005NCAA Baseball Championships. The LMU schedulewill, as always, feature home and away match-ups withperennial powerhouses USC, Long Beach State, and2004 national champion Cal State Fullerton.The WCChas done away with its divisions, and beginning theseason, the teams will play just one three-game seriesagainst each WCC team. With this shortened leagueseason, fans will notice additional non-conference matchupson the schedule.
PETTIT NAMED TO WALLACE WATCH
Chris Pettit was listed among the nation's top baseballplayers on the 2006 Wallace Watch released by theCollege Baseball Foundation (CBF). The BrooksWallace Award is presented annually to the nationalcollege baseball player of the year, and Pettit was amongthis season's early candidates. The Lions' outfielderwas a 2005 All-WCC first-team the top 10 in the WCCin more offensive categories than any other conferenceplayer, including leading the league in runs scored (38)and doubles (14). A three-year starter in the outfield forthe Lions, Pettit also finished WCC play ranked in thetop three in hits (41), stolen bases (10), RBI (26), totalbases (67), on base percentage (.473), and sluggingpercentage (.620).
MEYERS NAMED CAPE COD LEAGUE TOPPROSPECT
Brad Meyers was named one of the Cape Cod BaseballLeague's top-10 prospects by Baseball America.The sophomore was the only player in the top-10 withjust one year of college experience under his belt.Meyers allowed just one earned run in two Cape Leagueplayoff starts, earning postseason MVP honors as hisOrleans Cardinals won the title. He was the Cardinals'starter in the rubber match of the championship,and allowed just one run on nine hits through six and athird innings. Meyers issued no walks while strikingout three during his 87 pitches. He left the game in theseventh to a standing ovation from his Orleans crowd.Meyers was named to the league all-star team earlierin the season.
LIONS TABBED TO FINISH FOURTH
Now leading the Lions for a decade, Cruz will look totake a team that's picked to finish fourth in West CoastConference play to LMU's fifth WCC ChampionshipSeries appearance in eight seasons. The Lions are pickedto finish fourth in the WCC by both the league coachesand by Baseball America's preseason predictions. Thelast time the Lions were tabbed to finish fourth, Cruz ledthe 2004 team to a conference-best 20-7 record and theCoast Division title. His efforts earned him his thirdWCC Coach of the Year selection and the top place inthe 2005 WCC preseason poll.
FROM LMU TO THE PROS
As Lion fans scan the 2006 roster, some notable namesare missing. And the majority of those names are nowfound on minor league rosters around professional baseball.LMU had a total of seven players sign professionalcontracts in 2005, including top-10 round picksStephen Kahn (fifth round, Seattle Mariners), JeffStevens (sixth round, Cincinnati Reds), and JamesCooper (ninth round, New York Yankees). Kahn wasthe 2004 WCC Pitcher of the Year, while Stevens andCooper brought home all-conference honors last seasonas juniors. Joe Frazee, selected in the 25th roundby the Philadelphia Phillies, became the first player inLMU history to receive All-WCC recognition for fourseasons. The returning squad is highlighted by All-WCC first-team selection Chris Pettit, second-teamselection Eric Farris, and honorable mention recipientSean Dovel. 2004 All-WCC honoree Kyle Mura, a49th round selection of the Chicago Cubs who opted toreturn for his senior season, also has Lion fans hopingfor big things in 2006.
SPECIAL WAY TO OPEN 2006
This season, LMU celebrates the 20th anniversary ofthe 1986 team that advanced to the College WorldSeries. Lions past and present gathered on AlumniWeekend January 28-29 to honor the 1986 Lions. Oneof the teams that CWS team faced in 1986 was theArizona Wildcats, who defeated LMU 7-5 in Omahaand then went on to win the title. Now, 20 years later,LMU opened its 2006 season at then-31st ranked Arizona.
ALWAYS IN OUR THOUGHTS
The Lions are remembering some very special peoplethis season with memorial tributes. Page Stadium nowhas a #1 on its left center field wall in memory oflegendary coach and ambassador of baseball RodDedeaux, who passed in January. The Lions also weara black bar across the LMU on their caps in memory ofLMU student-athletes Jessica Hanson and Adam Bacon,who were killed in a car accident in August, justbefore the two were to begin their senior seasons withsoccer and cross country.