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Gonzaga's Road to Omaha Kicks off with Georgia Southern

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May 29, 2009
  3:00 PM PST
Radio: 1510 KGA LiveStats: GameTracker

  Gsu_medium
35-16 (14-7)
3 Seed
 
42-15 (20-8)
  2 Seed

 

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The Gonzaga Bulldogs begin their quest for Omaha today as they travel to Fullerton, California to take on the Georgia Southern Eagles.  The Zags-Eagles match up is the first one of the day in Fullerton as the host school Cal State-Fullerton will take on Utah in the night game.  Matt Fields, who has been collecting awards since the end of the season, will be the starting pitcher for Gonzaga today.  Fields was recently named a third-team All-American by Louisville Slugger and has already been named to the All-WCC team and was the WCC Pitcher of the Year.  Fields is 8-1 on the season with a solid 2.86 ERA.  Expect Georgia Southern to call on right-handed pitcher Chris Mederos who has been lighting up the Southern Conference all season long.  Both pitchers will have their work cut out for them however as each team has been hitting the ball extremely well lately.

continue reading after the jump for more on the Zags-Eagles match up...

Fields is a good example of the senior leadership that has helped Gonzaga reach the tournament.  The Zags returned eight seniors from last seasons team and they have felt the heartbreak of barely missing the tournament.  Two years ago Gonzaga was in the WCC Championship series and took game one from the San Diego Toreros before USD woke up and dismantled the Zags, scoring 26 runs in the next two games.  The senior leaders did not let that happen this year with guys like Ryan Wiegand and Evan Wells stepping up and doing the little things to get Gonzaga into the tournament.  For Wiegand, who was another Zag named to the All-WCC team, he did some big things in the championship series.  The big senior first baseman drove in the winning run in the first game of the series against LMU and followed that up with a three-home run performance to bury the Lions.

In total, five Gonzaga Bulldogs received All-WCC accolades.  We already mentioned Wiegand and Fields and they are joined by senior Anthony Synegal and juniors Tyson Van Winkle and Steven Ames.  Tyson Van Winkle was the most outstanding offensive producer for Gonzaga this season, hitting a blistering .361.  Van Winkle started every game behind the plate for Gonzaga this year and is at or near the top of the list in nearly every statistical category. 

Georgia Southern is a team that Gonzaga has never seen before.  About 2500 miles away, the Eagles have quietly put together one of the more outstanding seasons in college baseball.  A staggering 42 wins this season, Georgia Southern actually finished second in their regular season conference standings but won the Southern Conference tournament and earned a two seed in the Fullerton region.  Starting pitcher Chris Mederos stars for Georgia Southern.  The righty is 11-1 on the season and has struck out 112 in 93 innings.  Much like Gonzaga, the Eagles are led at the plate by their catcher.  Griffin Benedict is hitting .401 on the season for GSU and has driven in 61 runs this season.  They tout a very strong hitting lineup from top to bottom with six players hitting well above .300 on the season.  In a series, Gonzaga might have the edge pitching-wise but in a tournament settting, there is no doubt that the Zags will get the best the Eagles have to offer. 

First pitch of today's game is at 3 PM at Goodwin Field in Fullerton, California.  It's a bummer they did make the ESPN schedule but make sure to tune in to 1510 KGA to listen to all the action or follow it on GameTracker.  Go Zags!