GAME 51: The Toreros play their final regular-season non-conference game on Tuesday when they take on crosstown rival San Diego State. Game time is set for 6:00 p.m. at Tony Gwynn Stadium. Torero RHP CJ Burdick (2-2, 4.75 ERA) is scheduled to face off against vs. LHP Jacob Erickson (5-2, 2.40 ERA).
LAST TIME OUT: The Toreros went 3-1 last week. The week started off with a 5-1 road victory in 14 innings against the UC Irvine Anteaters on May 9th. USD erupted for 4 runs in the 14th with Noah Prewett getting a key two-run single up the middle. Prewett finished 3-for-3 on the night. Sean Barry and Troy Conyers combined to hold the Anteaters to three hits and no runs through the first 8.2 innings. USD hosted Sacramento State for a 3-game non-conference series over the weekend. The Toreros earned 6-3 and 5-3 wins on Friday and Saturday, but the Hornets escapted with a 9-8 victory on Sunday. Sophomore Jay Schuyler belted 2 homers and 3 doubles with 5 RBI in the series, and Troy Conyers appeared in all three games (8.2 innings, 3 hits, 1 run, 16 strikeouts, 1 save).
ON DECK: Following Tuesday’s game with San Diego State, the Toreros will return to Fowler Park for their final regular-season WCC series of the season when they host the Pepperdine Waves (20-29, 8-16 WCC). Friday’s (May 19) and Saturday’s (May 20) games will begin at 6:00 p.m., followed by the series finale on Sunday (May 21, Senior Day) at 1:00 pm.
COACH HILL: Rich Hill has built the USD Toreros into one of the most successful Division I baseball programs on the West Coast. The 2017 spring season will be Hill’s 30th year as a head coach at the collegiate level, and 19th at USD, having enjoyed 25 winning seasons in 29 years. Since taking over at USD in 1999, Hill has been remarkable in re-writing the school record book en route to claiming back-to-back West Coast Conference Championship titles in 2002 and 2003 and also claiming the WCC crown in 2007, 2008 and 2010. Under his leadership, USD produced three consecutive first round picks in Kris Bryant, Connor Joe and Kyle Holder (2013-15). USD has had 44 players sign a pro contract in the last eight years, the Toreros have been ranked at some point during the season for 11 consecutive years, and USD has been tabbed the WCC preseason favorite for nine of the past ten years.
WCC WATCH: The Toreros (15-9) enter their final week tied for fourth place in the WCC standings with Saint Mary’s College. BYU (20-4) is in first place, and LMU and Gonzaga are tied for second with 15-6 records. Saint Mary’s owns the tie-breaker over the Toreros, so USD needs to win one more game than the Gaels this coming weekend. Saint Mary’s plays host to Santa Clara while the Toreros entertain Pepperdine. The top four teams advance to the WCC Championships May 25-27 in Stockton, Calif.
ON BASE MACHINE: Jay Schuyler, who leads the Toreros with .355 batting average, has reached base in 35 straight games. For the year, Schuyler has reached base in 46 of USD’s 50 games. His 70 hits rank 3rd in the WCC.
ACE IN THE HOLE: Sophomore lefty Nick Sprengel improved his record to 9-1 over the weekend. Four Torero pitchers have posted a 9-1 record, most recently PJ Conlon in 2013. No USD pitcher has started the season 10-1. In Sprengel’s 13 starts, the Toreros are 12-1.
POWER UP: Roman Garcia and Riley Adams are now tied for the team lead in home runs with 13 each (ranks 2nd in WCC behind James Free, II of Pacific with 14). Garcia ranks 1st in the WCC in doubles (20) and total bases (116), and 3rd in RBIs (49). Adams ranks 5th in the WCC in both RBIs (46) and total bases (109). Senior RF Hunter Mercado-Hood is also providing a power boost at the top of the lineup as he is second in the conference in runs scored (46) and total bases (114).
A WEEK FOR K’S: Senior LHP Troy Conyers had quite the week out of the bullpen for the Toreros this past week. He appeared in three contests in a relief role and totaled 8.2 innings of work while allowing just 3 hits, 1 run and striking out 16 batters. His ERA for the week was 1.04. In USD’s 5-1 win at UC Irvine, he pitched 5.0 innings, giving up 3 hits and 1 run while striking out 8. In Saturday’s 5-3 victory over Sac State, he pitched the final two innings giving up just one walk, no hits and striking out 6 batters for his 11th save of the year. In Sunday’s finale he pitched 1.2 innings and struck out two. He ranks 23rd in the NCAA with 11 saves.
DOUBLE TROUBLE: The Toreros are 22nd in the nation in doubles per game (2.12). Roman Garcia leads the conference and is 24th in the nation with 20 doubles. Hunter Mercado-Hood and Jay Schuyler, each with 17, are tied for 5th in the WCC. Riley Adams is also in double-digits with 11 doubles, along with Jeff Houghtby who has contributed 10 two-baggers.
STRIKE THREE!: Torero pitchers enter the week striking out 9.7 batters per nine innings, the sixth best rate in the nation. The Toreros have four pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched who are striking out more than 11 batters per nine innings, led by Troy Conyers’ 13.25 punchouts per nine.
FIRST TO SCORE: The Toreros are 26-5 when they are the first to score, and just 6-12-1 when their opponent scores first. USD has a 15-3 record when they score in the first inning.
NO FREE BAGS: Torero pitchers catchers Riley Adams and Jay Schuyler have only allowed 15 stolen bases this season; that comes on 30 attempts by opponents. USD baserunners have swiped 49 bases with Colton Waltner leading the way (13-for-13).
SCOUTING THE AZTECS: San Diego State is 36-16 on the year... They have won six of their last seven contests with the lone loss coming on Firday at Air Force (9-1). They closed out the weekend with two wins over the Falcons (18-11, 17-5) to run their MWC record to 19-8. Junior David Hensley leads the Aztecs in hitting at .383 (64-167). Junior Tyler Adkison leads in the power department with 14 HR, 51 RBI and a .704 slugging percentage. Nine regulars are batting .300 or above and the Aztecs are batting .318 as a team. Senior LHP Brett Seeburger is 9-2 on the season and owns a 3.89 ERA. Senior RHP CJ Saylor owns 12 saves. Head Coach Mark Martinez is in his 7th season.
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