LMU Opens 2018 WCC Championship Tournament Run Thursday

May 23, 2018

THIS WEEK: LMU will open WCC Championship Tournament play on Thursday at 7 p.m. while playing as the #3 seed ... LMU will open against #2 Gonzaga ... top-seed Pepperdine and #4 San Francisco will play the early game on Thursday, kicking-off tournament play at 3 p.m. ... live stats and video links can be found at LMULions.com.

HOW TO FOLLOW:
THURSDAY | 7:00 PM - Watch on TheW.tv | WCC Championship Tournament Central

GAME NOTES: LMU Baseball Notes Get Acrobat Reader

LMU: Swept Saint Mary's to earn a spot in the WCC Championship Tournament ... had previously swept San Francisco on the road in the final series of 2015 to earn a spot in that WCC Championship Tournament ... has played for the WCC Championship four of the last five years (losses to Pepperdine in 2014 and 2015, loss to BYU in 2017) ... last earned an NCAA berth in 2000 ... has dropped six of the last 10, 10 of the last 17, and 16 of the last 27, but has won three straight ... won seven straight games from 3/9 - 3/20 ... seven-game win streak was longest since winning eight straight from 3/24/17 - 4/4/17 ... started the season 3-10 for the first time since 2010 ... 2010 squad then won its next five straight and 10 of next 11 ... LMU went 9-2 over next 11 this year ... is 47-for-67 in stolen bases, and started the year 11-for-11 ... had a string of eight of nine games decided by two runs or less from 2/18 - 3/3 (2-6 in those eight) ... is 6-7 in one-run games this season and 3-2 in extra-inning affairs ... played consecutive extra-inning affairs on 2/18 and 2/20 for the first time since playing 10 and 9 (scheduled for 7) at UCSB and at Texas on March 4 and March 11, 2012 ... last played consecutive 10+-inning extra-inning affairs on April 30 and May 1, 2011 at San Francisco ... was picked to finish fifth in the WCC Preseason Coaches’ Poll ... was also picked fifth according to D1Baseball.com.

LION TRACKS: LMU needed a sweep over Saint Mary's last weekend to earn a spot in the WCC Championship Tournament ... the Lions opened the series with a 7-0 victory behind a complete-game shutout from Codie Paiva - his second of the season ... the Lions then captured a 9-4 victory on Saturday before earning the sweep in walk-off fashion on Sunday when Ryan Ruley punched a single into left field to bring home Brandon Shearer in the bottom of the ninth to earn a 6-5 win ... Niko Pacheco collected multiple hits in each of the contests against Saint Mary's, finishing 9-for-12 (.750) with three runs scored, two doubles, two homers and five RBI in the series against the Gaels ... he opened the series with a 2-for-3 night on Friday before going 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI on Saturday ... in a must-win game for LMU on Senior Day Sunday, Pacheco posted a career-best 4-for-5 day that included a pair of solo home runs.

-Niko Decolati: Has managed 15 multi-hit games and has hit safely in eight of the last nine overall ... has homered in two of the last four games, and owns five RBI in the last five games ... leads the team in home runs (6), total bases (88) and runs scored (37), is second in slugging percentage (.447), doubles (10) and triples (3), and third in steals (8) ... had a seven-game hit streak snapped on 5/19 (.321, 8 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI).

-Nick Frasso: Honorable Mention All-WCC and WCC All-Freshman selection ... made 11 appearances in WCC play, starting four games, and posted a 2-2 record with a 2.97 ERA ... allowed just one run at home this year over 31.1 innings (0.29 ERA), and has surrendered just two runs and 14 hits with 36 strikeouts over 20.2 innings out of the bullpen this year ... has struck out 30 hitters over his last 17.1 innings.

-Niko Pacheco: Honorable Mention All-WCC ... batting .526 with three runs scored, two doubles, two homers and five RBI over the last five games, and is hitting .382 over the last 10 ... named Rawlings WCC Player of the Week on 5/21 after hitting .667 to guide LMU to a 3-1 week that included a sweep over Saint Mary's ... finished the week 10-for-15 with three runs scored, two doubles, two home runs and five RBI to post a .688 on-base percentage and a 1.200 slugging percentage ... collected his second multi-homer game of the year, launching a pair in a winner-take-all Sunday game against Saint Mary's to guide LMU into the WCC Championship Tournament ... in WCC play, Pacheco batted a team-leading .348 with nine runs scored, five doubles, four homers and 16 RBI to finish with a .594 slugging percentage ... leads the team in slugging percentage (.504), is second in average (.328), and third in on-base percentage (.375), RBI (23) and home runs (4).

-Jamey Smart: First team All-WCC ... named a candidate for Senior CLASS Award ... has hit safely in 39 of 52 games this year with 13 multi-hit games ... seven RBI over the last five games ... had multiple hits in 7 games over 12-game hit streak from 3/9-3/29 ... batted .444 (24x54) with 3 R, 5 2B and 21 RBI over hit streak ... batted .571 (8x14) with a run scored, a double and five RBI in the sweep over Valpo ... named Rawlings WCC Player of the Week on 3/26 after batting .312 with two doubles and seven crucial RBI in helping LMU to a 3-1 week the previous week ... leads the team in RBI (44), and is second in hits (58) and doubles (10) ... batted .309 with 11 runs scored, seven doubles, four homers and 29 RBI in WCC play ... returns after being named first team All-WCC in 2017.

-Nick Sogard: Second team All-WCC ... has collected team-high 17 multi-hit games ... has hit safely in 36 of his 50 games played this year ... hitting .353 over the last five games and .361 with four RBI over the last 10 ... batted .692 (9x13) with three runs scored, a homer and two RBI while stealing a pair of bases over four games against Long Beach State and Pepperdine from 3/20 - 3/25 ... hit .455 (5x11) with two runs scored, two doubles and four RBI in the sweep of Valpo ... team leader in average (.339), on-base percentage (.455), hits (59) and walks (30), is second in stolen bases (11), and is third in runs scored (30) ... hit safely in six straight from 3/16-3/25 (.500 (12x24), 6 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI) ... batted .323 with 17 runs scored, three doubles and seven RBI to go along with seven stolen bases in WCC play.

-Cooper Uhl: WCC Defensive Player of the Year and second team All-WCC ... batting .400 over the last five games ... has started 42 of LMU's 52 games behind the plate this year, and has thrown out 19 of 39 potential base stealers (49%) while posting four pickoffs ... batted .314 with four doubles and nine RBI in WCC play, and threw out 12 of 24 potential base stealers (50%).

-Billy Wilson: Honorable mention All-WCC ... has been hit by a pitch 15 times this year, and a record 51 times in his LMU career ... batted .455 (5x11) with four runs scored, two triples and six RBI in the sweep over Valpo ... fell a triple shy of the cycle on 5/8 at CSU Bakersfield (4x5, 2B, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI) ... posted a pair of triples in the final game against Valpo on 3/11 and two more vs. Saint Mary’s on 5/19, and currently owns 17 in his career to rank third in LMU’s record book ... has hit safely in 34 of 52 games this year, including posting 14 multi-hit games ... leads the team in triples (6), runs scored (37) and total bases (88), is second in RBI (28) and doubles (10), and is third in home runs (4).

UHL HIGHLIGHTS GROUP OF SEVEN LAUDED BY WCC: Sophomore catcher Cooper Uhl headlined a group of seven LMU baseball players who earned All-West Coast Conference honors on Tuesday, taking home Defensive Player of the Year to become the third Lion to capture the award, including the first since David Fletcher in 2014 ... Uhl also earned a spot on the All-WCC second team, joined by fellow sophomore, Nick Sogard ... senior Jamey Smart was the lone Lion to earn first-team honors, while seniors Tyler Cohen, Niko Pacheco and Billy Wilson joined freshman Nick Frasso on the honorable mention squad ... Frasso was also listed on the All-Freshman team.

FOURTH TIME IS THE CHARM: LMU is appearing in the WCC Championship Tournament for the fourth time in the six-year history of the event ... the Lions have reached the final twice (2014 & 2015), but have not been able to capture the Championship ... LMU's four appearances are tied for second-most among WCC members (BYU, Pepperdine) - trailing only Gonzaga who has appeared in all but one (2015), but has also never won ... eight of the 10 WCC teams have appeared in the tournament in its six years.

ANOTHER SWEEP: While LMU's sweep of Saint Mary's punched the ticket to the WCC Tournament, LMU took home another sweep one day later as the WCC announced that the Lions swept the final Rawlings WCC weekly honors of the 2018 season ... junior Codie Paiva earned Rawlings WCC Pitcher of the Week, and senior Niko Pacheco took home Rawlings WCC Player of the Week ... The honor is the second of the year for Paiva after earning a selection on March 5, while this is Pacheco's first selection ... LMU has now won Player of the Week twice, as Jamey Smart earned the title on March 26 ... Paiva dealt his second complete-game shutout of the year on Friday night, helping the Lions to secure a 7-0 victory in the first game of a three-game sweep ... Paiva allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out five en route to going the distance ... Pacheco hit .667 over the four games (LMU was 3-1), finishing the week 10-for-15 with three runs scored, two doubles, two home runs and five RBI to post a .688 on-base percentage and a 1.200 slugging percentage ... Pacheco hit safely in all four games, including posting multiple hits in each of the contests against Saint Mary's ... native of Fresno, Calif. hit a pair of solo homers as part of a 4-for-5 day in the Senior Day series finale, finishing the game with 10 total bases - the most for a Lion since Tanner Donnels posted 10 at Pepperdine on March 22, 2015.

SOLID DEFENSE LATELY: LMU has committed the second-fewest errors in the WCC at 45, and the last nine games have been especially impressive ... the Lions have been charged with just one error in last nine games - a throwing error by Nick Frasso on May 13 on a bunt in which he slipped and had the ball sail down the right field line to allow the runner to advance.

NOT AN AVERAGE YEAR: LMU is hitting just .258 as a team so far this year, and if the season were to end today, that would be the lowest mark since at least 1968 ... LMU hit .261 in 1974, which is the current low over the span ... the lowest average under Jason Gill came in 2012 when the Lions hit .263 ... while overall the numbers are down, LMU has hit .326 over the last five games.

A CLASS ACT: Senior Jamey Smart was one of 30 NCAA baseball student-athletes selected as candidates for the 2018 Senior CLASS Award® ... to be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition ... an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities ... the 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot ... ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four C’s of community, classroom, character and competition ... the Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2018 College World Series® in June.

MIDWEEK FREE PASSES: LMU has played 12 midweek games this year (3-9) and has walked 71 hitters in those contests (6.03 BB/9 IP) while also hitting 20 - helping to lead to a 6.88 ERA ... in the other 40 games played this year, LMU is 21-19 overall and has walked 135 (3.45 BB/9 IP) and hit 40 - helping to keep the ERA at 4.47 ... the Lions have walked a season-high 10 batters twice this year, issuing 10 and hitting two more in the 13-1 loss to UCLA on 4/3 before walking 10 and hitting three at Long Beach State on 4/17 ... the 10 walks are the most allowed since LMU walked 15 vs. UC Santa Barbara on March 30, 2004.

IT HURTS SO GOOD: Senior Billy Wilson drew his 14th hit by pitch of the year on May 11 at Santa Clara ... that was a meaningful bruise, as it was also his 50th career hit-by-pitch – breaking the LMU record set by Jim McAnany from 1984-87 ... Wilson has since added one more, running his total to 51.

SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS: Gonzaga enters the tournament sporting a 29-22 overall record after finishing 16-11 in WCC play to claim second ... the Bulldogs closed the regular season by taking two-of-three from Santa Clara ... Ernie Yake leads the team offensively, hitting .321 with 27 runs scored, 11 doubles and 20 RBI ... Jake Vieth has launched eight homers as the Bulldogs are hitting .262 as a squad ... RHP Daniel Bies is scheduled to start on Thursday night, carrying a 6-4 record with a 2.59 ERA through 14 starts and 97.1 innings of work ... Bies has struck out 104 hitters to 21 walks ... the Lions, who dropped two-of-three to Gonzaga earlier this year, defeated Bies in the Friday opener (5.2 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 5 K) ... the Bulldogs are led by 15th-year head coach Mark Machtolf.

SCOUTING THE WAVES: Pepperdine enters the tournament sporting a 29-22 overall record after winning the WCC with a 17-10 record ... the Waves dropped two-of-three to Portland to close the regular season ... Brandt Belk leads the team in terms of average at .316 while scoring 30 runs to accompany 10 doubles, a triple, a homer and 18 RBI ... Jordan Qsar, the WCC Player of the Year, hsa batted .268 with 30 runs scored, 11 doubles, two triples, 11 homers and a WCC-best 59 RBI ... Pepperdine features WCC Pitcher of the Year Jonathan Pendergast (7-4, 2.70 ERA) and Wil Jensen (5-0, 0.74 ERA) ... the Waves are led by third-year head coach, and WCC Coach of the Year, Rick Hirtensteiner.

SCOUTING THE DONS: USF enters the tournament sporting a 28-28 overall record after going 15-12 in WCC play to earn a share of third place ... the Dons lost two-of-three to Kansas State in non-conference play last weekend to finish regular-season play ... Michael Perri leads the team offensively, batting .344 with 38 runs scored, 22 doubles, nine homers and 44 RBI ... the Dons are hitting .261 as a team and have stolen 54 bases in 78 attempts ... USF sports a strong pitching rotation, led by Riley Ornido (8-4, 2.65 ERA) and Landen Bourassa (8-4, 3.02 ERA) ... the Dons are led by 19th-year head coach Nino Giarratano.

PASSED BALLS HELPING LMU: While LMU’s catching corps has allowed just six passed balls on the year, LMU has benefitted from 16 offensively ... no two have been bigger than the pair that have resulted in two of LMU’s five victories in their final at bat this year ... Nick Sogard scampered home in the top of the ninth at Hawai’i on March 1 as LMU broke a scoreless tie and eventually won 3-0 ... Alex Lambeau scored similarly in the top of the 12th at BYU on March 16, scoring the go-ahead run of a 9-8 victory over the Cougars ... the Lions have also walked-off on a wild pitch, doing so in the bottom of the 11th against USF on 4/15

A WHOLE NEW STAFF: LMU returns just 154.2 innings from last year’s pitching staff that logged a combined 502.1 (31%) ... in addition, 12 of those returning innings came from players who are not expected to pitch in 2018 (Steven Chavez and Niko Decolati) ... LMU’s staff also returns only nine of its 56 starts from a year ago, with all nine coming outside of a traditional three-game weekend series.

AND IT'S A YOUNG STAFF: LMU has used 14* pitchers this year, but only two have been an upperclassman - junior Codie Paiva and redshirt-senior Tyler Cohen ... in addition to Paiva and Cohen, LMU has used seven true freshmen, a redshirt-freshman, three true sophomores, and a redshirt-sophomore ... removing position players who have pitched (5.0 total innings), 251.2 of LMU’s 453.1 innings have come from freshmen arms (56%). * - see "POSITION PLAYERS PITCH WELL" note that follows.

POSITION PLAYERS PITCH WELL: All four of LMU’s pitchers used on 4/18 vs. USC had seen time as offensive players this year, with Ryan Ruley, Rob Diaz and Harry Hibberd all making their first collegiate pitching appearance ... freshman Austin Carder, who is a legitimate two-way player with innigs of work prior to the game, got the start and took the loss after allowing five runs on six hits and a walk over 4.0 innings ... Ruley tossed 2.0 innings and gave up only a solo homer ... Diaz walked just one batter over 2.0 scoreless innings before Hibberd tossed a perfect ninth.

BREAKOUT WEEKEND?: LMU entered the three-game series with Valparaiso hitting just .205 as a team ... through those first 13 games, LMU was 3-10 and was being outscored, 70-43, while averaging 3.31 runs per game ... no everyday player was hitting above .300, as Nick Sogard led the way with a .293 average ... LMU exploded against Valpo pitching, hitting .371 over the course of the three games and outscoring the Crusaders, 32-12 ... LMU featured five players who hit above .400 in the series, including Jamey Smart who went 8-for-14 (.571) with five RBI and Billy Wilson who batted .455 (5-for-11) with two triples and six RBI ... LMU averaged 10.67 runs per game in the sweep of Valpo ... the Lions also collected 16 extra-base hits, including 10 doubles, five triples and a homer after posting just 21 extra-base hits in the first 13 contests combined ... thanks to the outpouring of offense, LMU raised it team average more than 30 points (.237) ... LMU went 9-2 over 11 games beginning with the Valpo series.

IT'S JUST A NUMBER: LMU is 34-46-1 against ranked-opponents under head coach Jason Gill over his 10 years as head coach ... the Lions are also 8-10 in weekend series against ranked teams over that span ... LMU is currently 0-2 this year after finishing 2-2 last year ... LMU went 2-7 against ranked-foes in 2016 ... LMU’s best record under Gill against ranked-teams came in his first year (2009) when the Lions went 9-2.

THE SMART PICK FOR WCC PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Senior Jamey Smart was named Rawlings WCC Player of the Week on March 26 after batting .312 with two doubles and seven crucial RBI in helping LMU to a 3-1 week the previous week ... the native of San Ramon, Calif. batted .364 with two doubles and six RBI in the series win over Pepperdine, and all six were critical to LMU's series win ... Smart came up with two out, the bases loaded and LMU trailing 3-2 in the seventh inning on Saturday, and delivered a bases-clearing three-RBI double to hand LMU the 5-3 win to even the series ... in the rubber game of the set on Sunday, Smart punched home the first two runs of the game in the first inning, and added an RBI-double in the seventh that proved to be the game-winner as LMU held off Pepperdine, 4-3, to earn the series win ... Smart, who also had the walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th during LMU's 5-4 win over Long Beach State on 3/20, hit safely in all four games that week, posting a .333 on-base percentage and a .438 slugging percentage.

PAIVA'S GEM EARNS PITCHER OF WEEK: After throwing a complete-game shutout at Hawaii on March 1, junior Codie Paiva was named WCC Rawlings Pitcher of the Week on March 5 ... pitching in Hawaii for the first time since the Hawaii State Tournament as a high school player, the right-hander tossed a complete-game shutout against the Rainbow Warriors as LMU posted a 3-0 victory over Hawaii ... Paiva was efficient in posting the complete-game shutout, throwing just 86 pitches, 64 for strikes, while scattering four hits and a walk with four strikeouts ... the complete-game shutout was the first since Cory Abbott went the distance and blanked Gonzaga on May 13, 2017.

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: In its 36th season as the home of Lion baseball in 2018, George C. Page Stadium is also in its fifth year under the lights ... the 2018 LMU baseball schedule featured 24 home games ... LMU, which went 15-9 this year, went 17-10 last year at home after going 9-12 at home in 2016 ... the Lions, who have posted a 575-429-4 (.572) overall record in the park’s 35+ seasons, have claimed six conference titles while calling Page Stadium home ... the first Page Stadium conference title came in 1986, when the Lions posted a 24-8 record at home ... the best record came in 1988, when LMU was 30-5 at home (.857) ... LMU’s historic first game in Page Stadium was played on March 19, 1983, with a 5-1 loss to Cal State Fullerton ... the Mikos Blue Monster in left field stands 130-feet wide and 37-feet tall.

 

 

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