San Francisco Hosts UC Riverside in Season Opener for Both Teams

Dons Look to Continue on Record Breaking 2005 Season

Junior Scott Cousins will Lead the Diamond Dons in 2006

Junior Scott Cousins will Lead the Diamond Dons in 2006

Jan. 31, 2006

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USF WELCOMES UC RIVERSIDE THIS WEEKEND: San Francisco welcomes UC Riverside to Benedetti Diamond Friday - Sunday in the season opener for both programs. The Dons last played the Highlanders in 2004, losing the series three games to none. Last season, UCR was 28-27.

DONS RANKED IN PRE-SEASON TOP 40 FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 10 YEARS: Fresh off the most successful season in program history in 2005, USF Baseball earned national recognition and enters the upcoming season ranked No. 35 in the 2006 Collegiate Baseball Preseason Poll. The Dons set program records for wins (38), West Coast Conference victories (20) and ranked in the top-10 nationally in team ERA (2.86) and team fielding percentage (.976). It is the second time in the last 10 seasons USF has appeared in the preseason poll and first since 1998.

USF PICKED THIRD IN WEST COAST CONFERENCE PRE-SEASON POLL: After the best year in program history, the WCC coaches have taken notice and voted San Francisco into the third spot in the preseason baseball poll, giving them a total of 34 points. The Dons follow only last year's champ Pepperdine (48) and San Diego (42). Last year's runner up, Loyola Marymount comes in at a close fourth with 32 points.

Scott Cousins NAMED TO WALLACE PRE-SEASON WATCH LIST FOR COLLEGIATE BASEBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Junior LHP/OF Scott Cousins was selected to the Wallace Award Watch List for the 2006 College Baseball Foundation's Player of the Year. Cousins is the first Don to make the preseason watch list since three-time All-American Tagg Bozied in 2001. Cousins emerged as one of the top two-way players on the West Coast last year with an outstanding sophomore campaign on the Hilltop. The left-hander posted an 8-5 record with a 2.86 ERA in 95.1 innings and struck out 76 batters with only 30 walks. The eight victories were the third most ever recorded by a Dons hurler. At the plate, the West Coast Conference Player of the Month for March was equally impressive, batting .309 with a team-high seven home runs and ranked second on the squad with 30 RBI. Cousins earned First Team All-WCC honors last season and earned the 2005 Dante Benedetti Award presented to the team MVP. Cousins was also named to Baseball America's pre-season All-Conference Team.

Stefan Gartrell NAMED TO BASEBALL AMERICA'S FAB 50: Senior Stefan Gartrell was named to the Fabulous 50 Seniors of 2006 by Baseball America. The outfielder came in at No. 40 after a stellar 2005 campaign. In an injury plagued season Gartrell still managed to hit a whopping .364 with 52 hits, five homeruns, and 41 RBI. He had a 15-game hit streak that stretched from February 23 to March 19 in which he had 21 hits. Gartrell was also named to Baseball America's pre-season All-Conference Team.

Patrick McGuigan WILL PROVIDE MAJOR DEPTH OUT OF THE BULLPEN: Senior right-hander McGuigan returns to Benedetti Diamond after a fabulous year in 2005. The hulerer was a WCC Honorable Mention after going 5-2 with a sparkling 1.66 ERA and striking out 50 in 54.1 innings. The 1.66 ERA was the lowest single-season mark in school history. He enters 2006 ranked fifth among USF career leaders in ERA at 2.64 and shares sixth place in appearances with 65. He is USF's career saves leader with 13.

HEAD COACH Nino Giarratano NEARS 200TH VICTORY AT USF: The 2005 West Coast Conference Coach of the Year needs just 17 wins to reach the milestone of 200 victories as the head coach of the University of San Francisco, as he begins the 2006 season, his eighth on the Hilltop, with 183. He will become just the fifth coach in Dons athletic history to surpass the 200 victory mark in the Green and Gold. Giarratano also needs just seven wins to reach 500 overall as a college coach, after recording 310 wins in 8 seasons as a junior college head coach at Trinidad State Junior College in Trinidad, Co. and Yavapai Community College in Prescott, AZ.

OUTFIELD A STRENGTH FOR THE DONS IN 2006: With all starters returning and a deep bench, the Don outfield will be the biggest strength on the diamond this season. Senior Jonnie Knoble will again start in center field with Cousins in left and Gartrell in right. Knoble was the team leader in steals in 2005, swiping 20 bases. Junior Lucas DeLong, sophomores Luke Sommer and Zach Kim, and freshman Bobby Ethel will compete for time as well.

QUALITY STARTING PITCHING LEADS TEAM: In addition to setting a program team ERA record (2.86), the Dons led the WCC for the first time in school history. Although they lost two pitchers to the Major League Draft, USF returns a highly experienced and competitive staff. Cousins will lead the staff, followed by junior right-hander Ryan Muller and sophomore left-hander Aaron Poreda. Muller finished 2005 4-3 with a 4.29 ERA in 12 appearances and Poreda was 2-0, 2.16 ERA in 14 appearances.

DONS HAVE EXPERIENCE BEHIND THE PLATE: Catching will be another strong point for the Dons in 2006, led by junior Daniel Morales who hit .271 with six homeruns last season and is expected to have a high power output again. Backing him up will be red-shirt junior Jon Norfolk who hit .303 in 2005. Other backups include red-shirt junior Blake Nelson and red-shirt sophomore Alex Massari.

NEWCOMERS HOPE TO SHINE IN GREEN AND GOLD: With only a small number of slots to fill, the Dons added fuel to an already strong team. The great newcomers are led by senior Ben Summerhays, junior Jason Dufloth, and freshman Joe Oropeza. Summerhays joins the team from Stanford and will add power from the left side of the plate. Dufloth will be the go-to setup man for McGuigan out of the pen. Oropeza throws 88-91 miles per hour and will see as many opportunities on the mound as possible.

DANTE BENEDETTI CLASSIC: USF will host Cal Tuesday, April 25, 2006 at SBC Park in the inaugural Dante Benedetti Classic, celebrating the legacy of a giant in San Francisco youth and collegiate baseball. Benedetti, who coached USF for 16 years for an annual salary of one doller passed away in November of 2005 at the age of 86 after a long illness. The game will be the first college game ever played in the home park of the San Francisco Giants and will precede a night game against the New York Mets.

WEST COAST CONFERENCE CHANGES SCHEDULE: No longer will there be two divisions in the WCC, as the league has changed the format, and all eight teams will compete with each other as one. Also different from years past is the number of games played. Previously, 30 games were scheduled for conference play, now the teams will play 21. The WCC Championships will still be played, but will feature the true one and two teams instead of the first place team from each division.

SCOUTING UC RIVERSIDE: The Highlanders had a successful season in 2005, going 28-27 and finished fourth in the Big West Conference. Senior Aaron Grant returns after a stellar junior campaign, earning All-Big West First Team accolades. The outfielder was the Highlanders most consistant player, batting .357 with 47 runs scored and 30 RBI. Also returning is fellow First Teamer, designated hitter Andrew Martinez. The senior batted .330 with 40 RBI and at one point had a 17-game hit streak. Leading the Highlanders on the mound will be senior righthander Haley Shaw and junior right hander Taylor Bills. Shaw was 4-5 with a 5.43 ERA with 38 strikeouts. Bills went 7-7 with a 4.26 ERA ,63 strikeouts, and a .252 opponents batting average in 112.0 innings. Head coach Doug Smith begins his second year at the helm of UCR.


USF 38-18 .292 319 563 38 289 181 2.86 374 .234
UCR 28-27 .277 322 527 33 281 189 4.84 336 .282 

LAST MEETINGS: at Riverside 7, USF 6 (3/12/04); at Riverside 5, USF 1 (3/13/04); at Riverside 11, USF 7 (3/14/04)

LAST TIME AGAINST THE DONS: In the first of a three game series in Stockton, USF battled back from a 6-0 first inning posted by UC Riverside to tie the contest at 6-6 in the eighth, but could not come all the way back, falling 7-6. In game two, UCR's junior right-hander A.J Shappi came within one batter of a complete game shutout. That batter was Don senior Chris Genung who hit a leadoff solo homerun in the top of the ninth. Game three wasn't much better for USF, as they fell to the Highlanders 11-7, as UCR used a five run third inning and added three runs in the fifth and seventh after the Dons led 4-0 going into the bottom of the third. Sophomore Jonnie Knoble and freshman Blake Nelson each recorded two hits in the loss.

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