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Baseball Home Opener Tomorrow, UC Irvine Series Preview

6pm and 40 degrees? It's a beautiful day for a ballgame!
6pm and 40 degrees? It's a beautiful day for a ballgame!

Here's something to take your mind off men's basketball: Gonzaga baseball is on a roll and plays their home opener tomorrow night! They'll take on UC Irvine in Patterson Baseball Complex at 6pm in the first of a three-game series.

The last baseball post had the Zags at 4-5 (after an 0-5 start), and they've been climbing the standings. Since then, the Bulldogs have gone 6-2, winning series against Minnesota, splitting with Mizzou, sweeping Iowa, and picking up a win and tie with Notre Dame. They're now 10-7.

Our starting pitching has been dependable (3.02 ERA), but it's been the bats that have come alive in the last two weeks. As of today, four starters are hitting above .300, and Eric Lane is right behind at .294.

Read below the jump for a preview of the UCI series...

The Anteaters are 14-3 with impressive wins over respectable Sacramento State and San Diego State teams. But looking closely, the weakness of UCI's schedule stands out. They swept Nevada (last place WAC), and have beat Grambling State, Bethune-Cookman (?), a weak LMU team, a mediocre St. Mary's squad, and UConn. The run tally reflects the weakness of opponent's pitchers. Compare that to GU, who's racked up wins against nationally competitive programs (listed above the jump). The strength of schedule, and therefore the records, are basically irrelevant.  In fact, I'd say Gonzaga even has the advantage heading into this three-gamer because they're used to tough competition.

The weather is going to be a factor, as well. The Weather Channel is forecasting about 40 degrees for tomorrow night. In Irvine right now, it's sunny and in the 60s. They've played 16 of 17 games in California, and their 17th was in Nevada. Who ever thought cold weather would be a GOOD thing for the Zags in a spring/summer sport?

Gonzaga's Billy Moon is the player to watch this weekend. A sophomore outfielder and pitcher from U-High in Spokane, he received decent playing time last year but recently burst onto the scene and won the WCC Rawlings Player of the Week award on Monday. He's started 13 games and leads the team in batting average and RBIs, hitting .377 and driving in 13; and he sat out five games...imagine where those run totals would be. He does a good amount of relief pitching but has found his niche leading off and playing in the outfield.  He spent the summer with the Wenatchee Applesox of the West Coast League, and I got to watch him develop (I was the broadcaster for the Bellingham franchise) over the course of the season. He's a real threat on the basepaths and he's comfortable swinging early in the count to catch pitchers off-guard.

Hope to see some of you there: Friday at 6pm, Saturday at 1pm, Sunday at 12pm. 

Also, I'll be posting the final "Student Perspectives" video for Slipper TV on Sunday night. It's a doozy, so make sure to check it out when it's up.