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Battle For First Place This Weekend in Portland

USDTOREROSDOTCOM Sammy Solis.
USDTOREROSDOTCOM
Sammy Solis.
USDTOREROSDOTCOM

May 5, 2010

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ON DECK: The 22nd-ranked University of San Diego baseball team (27-16, 12-0 WCC) will head to the Pacific Northwest for a crucial three-game series with the upstart University of Portland Pilots, who are currently in second place in the WCC with an 11-1 record. Friday's game will begin at 3 p.m. and both Saturday's and Sunday's games will begin at 1 p.m. USD will then remain in the state of Oregon, and take on Oregon State on Monday at 7 p.m., followed by a Tuesday game against Oregon at 2 p.m.

SCOUTING THE PILOTS: Portland enters the weekend with a 30-9 overall record after upsetting No. 15 Oregon, 3-1, this past Tuesday. The Pilots are still in second place in the WCC with a 11-1 record in league games, just one game behind the Toreros. Portland is now riding an 11-game winning streak. USD leads the all-time series between the two at 41-20, including taking two of three from the Pilots last season in San Diego. Offensively the Pilots are led by CJ Cullen, who is hitting .378 with 54 hits, five doubles, one triple, three home runs and 31 RBI. On the mound, Zach Varce anchors down the rotation with his 5-1 record and a 3.08 ERA. The Pilots are under the direction of 13th-year head coach Chris Sperry. During his tenure in Portland, Sperry has posted an overall record of 251-420-1.

SCOUTING THE BEAVERS: Oregon State enters this week with an overall record of 21-17 after being swept by California in PAC-10 play this past weekend. San Diego leads the all-time series at 6-5 with the last meeting coming during the 2008 season, in which the Toreros claimed 10-5 win at Cunningham Stadium. Junior infielder Stefen Romero leads the Beavers offense with his .317 batting average, 46 hits, 10 doubles, one triple, nine home runs and 33 RBI. Junior right-hander Greg Peavey anchors down the pitching rotation with a 3.27 ERA and a record of 3-2 in 10 starts. The Beavers are under the direction of 16th-year head coach Pat Casey. During his tenure in Corvallis, Casey has posted an overall record of 524-328-4.

SCOUTING THE DUCKS: Oregon enters the week with an overall record of 30-14 after being upset by No. 22 Portland this past Tuesday. This will be the first meeting between the two baseball programs. Offensively, the Ducks are led by KC Serna, who is hitting .333 with 57 hits, 11 doubles, one triple, two home runs and 29 RBI. On the mound, the Ducks rotation is anchored down by Tyler Anderson, who is 6-3 with a 2.62 ERA. The Ducks are under the direction of second-year head coach George Horton. During his brief time helping resurrect the Oregon Baseball program in two years, he has amassed an overall record of 43-54.

STILL PERFECT IN THE WCC: San Diego picked up a three-game sweep over San Francisco this past weekend to remain perfect in the WCC at 12-0. This marks the best start in WCC play in program history, surpassing last season's record of a 6-0 start. In fact the 12-0 start is the second best start in the history of the WCC, only trailing Loyola Mary Mount's record of a 15-0 start back in 1988. So far in WCC games, San Diego has out scored its opponents 114-40, with the only close games coming this past week, a 4-2 win on Friday, a 10-4 12-inning affair on Saturday and a 4-3 win on Sunday. USD will go to Portland this weekend in a series that will be a battle for first place in the WCC, as the upstart Pilots are right on the Toreros heals at 11-1.

A LOOK AHEAD: San Diego will be off next weekend as the Toreros prepare for final exams, but will then return to the field on May 21, as they head to Malibu to begin a three-game series with the Pepperdine Waves. First pitch on May 21 is at 3 p.m., followed by a pair of 1 p.m. games on the 22nd and 23rd.

GRIFFIN GOES THE DISTANCE: Senior right-hander AJ Griffin went the distance in picking up his picked up the win on the mound for the Toreros after a complete-game gem. Griffin had a no-hitter going into the third inning, before a Connor Bernatz single up the middle broke it up. Griffin then settled down and kept the USF hitters off balance. For the game, Griffin allowed three runs on six hits, while striking out 10 batters. Griffin now improves to 5-3 and has lowered his ERA to 5.03.

SAMMY DOMINATES, YET AGAIN: Sophomore lefty Sammy Solis turned in one of his best performances this past Saturday in a no decision against San Francisco. Solis allowed four runs, two earned, on five hits, while striking out nine in the longest outing of his career, 9.0 innings. Solis is now 7-1 with a 2.69 ERA.

BLAIR SHUTS DOWN SAN FRANCISCO: Junior right-hander Kyle Blair turned in yet another dominating performance on the mound in Friday's 4-2 win over the University of San Francisco. Blair picked up the win as he allowed two runs on five hits, while striking out eight in 8.0 innings of work. Blair has now lowered is ERA to 3.26 and is 6-3 overall.

RED HOT TOREROS: San Diego has been one of the hottest teams in the nation over the last 15 games, as they have won 13 of them. Since the start of WCC action on April 9, the Toreros have posted a 13-2 record, have out scored their competition 136-64 and are back in the top-25 at No. 22 in the latest Baseball America top-25 poll. Also during these 15 games, the Toreros pitching staff have held its opponents to a .245 batting average, while the USD bats have hit .355. Both James Meador (.455) and Chris Engell (.444) have been hitting over 0.400 during this stretch and driven in 38 runs between the two. Kyle Blair has been lights out on the mound, as he has posted a 4-0 record with a 1.76 ERA during this stretch. Sammy Solis has been just as impressive as he is 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA in four outings.

SIX STRAIGHT SERIES WINS: San Diego has now won its last six consecutive three-game weekend series. The Toreros have taken two-of-three from No. 14 Rice in San Diego, took two of three from No. 10 Coastal Carolina in Conway, S.C., and have swept Loyola Marymount, Santa Clara, Gonzaga and San Francisco to begin WCC play over the last six weeks. In fact, USD has posted a 16-2 record in theses games, as the offense is hitting .336, and the Torero pitching staff is holding opponents to a .242 batting average. James Meador is hitting .494 in these games with 38 hits, eight doubles, three home runs and 28 RBI.

THE RANKINGS: The University of San Diego baseball team has moved up two spots to No. 22 in the latest Baseball America top-25 poll. The Toreros also re-entered the Collegiate Baseball top-30 poll at No. 23, and moved up one spot to No. 24 in the latest rivals.com top-25 poll. Portland is ranked as high as No. 22 in the latest Collegiate baseball top-30 poll.

TOREROS SET NCAA RECORD: With the 13 runs scored in the third inning of the 18-5 victory over Gonzaga on April 24, the Toreros officially set the NCAA record for most runs scored in a third inning. The previous record was 12 runs, which happened on three different occasions. In fact, the Toreros sent 18 batters to the plate in this inning, which is a 2010 record for most batters sent to the plate in one inning. The previous record was 16 batters in an inning for Western Kentucky in a game against Kentucky.

CHASING HISTORY: Several Toreros are currently looking to etch their name in the USD career record books. Victor Sanchez is now just two home runs shy of cracking into the top-10 list in this category, as he currently has 23 for his career. Kevin Muno just broke into the top-10 in career stolen bases with 56 for his career, tying him for seventh all-time. Kyle Blair currently has 243 strikeouts to his credit for his career, which places him sixth all-time.

LIVE STATS THIS WEEKEND AVAILABLE: This weekend's games at Portland, as well as the games against Oregon and Oregon State will all have live stat links on the USD website. Simply go to the USD baseball schedule page and look for them there. Portland will be providing a live audio broadcast for all three games this weekend as well.

WHO'S HOT FOR THE TOREROS? A pair of seniors have been red hot at the plate as of late for the Toreros, as both Chris Engell and James Meador are hitting .435 (10-for-28). Meador has three doubles, one home run and eight RBI over the last four games, while Engell has two doubles, one home run and four RBI. Engell was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate in Tuesday's win over UC Riverside.

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RANKED NO 3: According to Boyd's World, the University of San Diego baseball schedule has been rated the third toughest schedule in the nation. The Toreros' schedule features yet another strong caliber of opponents, much like the 2009 season. San Diego will face nine NCAA Tournament participants including the Rice, Coastal Carolina, Gonzaga, Indiana, UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton, Arizona State, San Diego State, and Fresno State to highlight USD's schedule. The Toreros will compete in 26 games against this top competition.

CAN YOU SEE ME?: All USD home games, as well as select road games, will be streamed live via video on the athletics department website. Fans can watch all the action live from the comfort of their home by logging onto usdtoreros.com. Simply go to the baseball schedule page and click on the WATCH link to view that days game. The voice of the Toreros, Jack Murray, will be providing live play-by-play of all home games as well as select road games this season.

HAUSER NAMED TO STOPPER OF THE YEAR MIDSEASON WATCH LIST: Forty-five players have been named to the midseason watch list for the sixth annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball, as announced by the association, and the University of San Diego's senior right-hander Matt Hauser is among those listed. Hauser, a 6-2 senior from Newport Beach, Calif., has been a solid rock in the closing role for the Toreros this season, as he currently leads the team with seven saves, while posting a 3-2 record and has posted a 3.44 ERA. Hauser was named the WCC Pitcher of the Month for March after recording a pair of saves against No. 10 Coastal Carolina and a win and a save against No. 14 Rice, while recording all five of his save in this month. During March Hauser posted an impressive ERA of 1.17.

PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN: Junior right-hander Kyle Blair of the University of San Diego baseball team was named to Baseball America's preseason third-team All-America team as a starting pitcher. Blair, a 6-3 junior from Monte Serento, Calif., is coming off an injury shortened sophomore campaign in which he went 3-2 with a 3.13 ERA and racked up 62 strikeouts in 54.2 innings of work. Blair made eight starts and 10 total appearances last season, while also picking up a pair of saves. As a freshman, Blair had a solid campaign posting an 8-4 record with a 3.86 ERA and he racked up 99 strikeouts.

TOREROS TABBED FAVORITES IN WCC PRESEASON POLL: San Diego was picked as the favorite to win this year's WCC regular season title in the 2010 preseason baseball poll, as voted on by the head coaches in the conference. The Toreros received six first place votes for a total of 48 points. Pepperdine was picked second with 38 points, while San Francisco totaled 33 points for third. The 2009 WCC Champion Gonzaga got one first place vote for 29 points to finish fourth, just edging out 2009 runner-up Loyola Marymount, which received 28 points for fifth. Rounding out this year's preseason poll are Santa Clara, which received the last first place vote with 20 points, Saint Mary's with 17 points, and Portland with 11 points. San Diego is coming off a fifth place finish last year and return a number of key players, including 2009 WCC Player of the Year James Meador (SR, OF), and 2009 All-WCC first team members Zach Walters (JR, SS) and AJ Griffin (SR, RHP), who also made the preseason all-conference team. In addition, Head Coach Rich Hill, who is the league's all-time leader in WCC victories (246), will bring back Kevin Muno (JR, OF) and Kyle Blair (JR, RHP), who were both named to the preseason all-conference team. In all, San Diego, which led the league in batting average (.319), brings back eight starting position players and four pitchers.