The schedule just kept getting harder for the Bulldogs over the last two weeks. Luckily for them, they've almost reached the end of the road. But there's one barrier between them and UDub and Santa Clara next week: USD this weekend. Based on the schedule GU put together, you could say that they're the "boss" at the end of one of Mario's toughest levels. The University of San Diego (20-15, 6-0 WCC) is squatting atop the West Coast Conference, while Gonzaga (13-24, 2-3 WCC) is in 6th.
This, my fellow Zag fans, is not going to be easy for the Bulldogs. We've gotten to the point where preseason scheduling no longer matters as a way to match teams up...we're well into league play now. So the fact that the Toreros are 6-0 is about as intimidating as it gets, and it doesn't help that the series will be played in San Diego. The bad weather reflected GU's play last week, so maybe some good weather will do the same? We can only hope!
Gonzaga, minus their most recent game, has had a tough time hitting the ball well. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for USD. In their last 10 games, they've scored at least nine runs in seven of them. This lineup can flat-out stroke top-to-bottom. And that starts with the 2009 WCC Player of the Year, James Meador. Last year he started every game and hit .376 along the way. In 2010 he's on the road again: he holds a .326 average and leads the team in hits. And USD is lucky that Meador landed there, since he was heavily recruited by Arizona State and UCLA, teams which have both inhabited the top five this year. This kid can run as well as hit: he's second on the squad in steals so far this season.
San Diego, unlike Gonzaga, has a set three-man rotation for WCC play. In today's opening contest, we'll see Sammy Solis, a sophomore hurler with a 6-1 record and a 2.94 ERA. Injured last season, he's spent this year trying to get back in the game, and he's done it with flying colors. Actually, he did it before he was injured, too: in high school he was drafted by the D-Backs in the 18th round. No USD starter has a losing record, something which will intimidate the Zags...but it isn't just the greatness of pitchers: an obvious reason for the Ws on someone's resume is run support, which GU pitchers don't get on a nightly basis.
Speaking of our pitching, we'll see Cody again tonight. I love seeing the mental toughness on him: he only has a 4-3 record but pitches like he's 7-0; he has that much confidence. I'm just concerned with how much longer he can keep it up without losing faith in his hitters.
USD streams their games live on their athletic site, and you can follow on the GoZags.com gametracker application.