Sorry it's been awhile since the last baseball post everyone; these professors crank it up a notch when finals roll around!
Anyway, not much has changed in the last week. The Zags flew down to San Diego and got swept by the WCC-leading Toreros, which was to be expected. USD is filled with upperclassmen that can hit and field with some of the best teams in the country.
The Bulldogs then backtracked to Seattle, where they split a two-gamer with the Huskies. GU took the first game 11-1 with some major help from Clayton Eslick, who came in to pinch-hit and ended up whacking a grand slam. The next night we saw pretty much the opposite when Washington posted a 12-4 beating.
And now the Zags are back at Patterson for their finals-weekend set with the Santa Clara Broncos. Gonzaga (14-28, 2-6 WCC) is now out of the running for a shot at the tournament, but Santa Clara (15-22, 1-10 WCC) would be a perfect way to boost their ego and get some feel-good wins under their belts for their fans, most of whom are students, who will be gone a week from tomorrow. Read on for a series preview.
The Broncos are one of the two teams worse than the Dogs in West Coast Conference play this year. Looking at individual hitting stats, it's easy to be confused: only two of their regular starters are batting below .285, and one's even hitting above .400. So you look down at pitching, "ah, there's the rub." Each one of the SCU starters has a losing record and an ERA of 5.00 or higher. Their bullpen hasn't fared much better: the only relievers who have ERAs below 4.00 haven't even made 10 appearances yet.
SCU is led by one of the most impressive, if not the most impressive, player in the WCC. RS junior Tommy Medica hold a .384 average, and leads the team in runs, hits, homeruns, RBIs, and slugging. Currently he has the 3rd highest career average in Santa Clara baseball history, .361. He was named to the all-Cape Cod team last summer, a gigantic honor: the Cape league is the best summer league in America, where all the best schools send their very best talent. He's also been at this for awhile: he won the WCC batting title as a freshman! Trust me, we'll see this kid in the minors very soon.
Our seniors have been on an absolute tear all season while much of the lineup has fallen short....again the LOB stat for nearly every game is way too high for any college team in a non-powerhouse conference. Now that we're out of the running and there's no pressure, and considering that we're playing the WCC's worst squad, it may relax the younger guys and allow them to learn without the constant need-to-win mentality. We'll probably see younger pitchers getting more innings for education's sake, too. Personally, I'd like to see Machtolf go to Billy Moon and Tyler Olsen for more practice, since those two will be instrumental ASAP...the bullpen this year has honestly been less than impressive.
Tonight's game at PBC is scheduled for 6:35, although the weather outside C/M right now is cloudy and threatening...hopefully it'll hold off until after the ballgame. Saturday and Sunday's games are both slated for 1:00pm.