Tuesday, May 28, 2013

USD Toreros WCC Champs; NCAA Tourney Next!

WCC Champs!
by Mark Kramer
Exclusive to the CC News

It’s been two weeks since the University of San Diego Toreros  baseball team finished their regular season. But while many teams across the country are packing up their gear and looking towards next year, the Toreros are showing no signs of slowing down. A spectacular run to win the West Coast Conference Tournament has put the Toreros on a hot streak and they are headed to the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in the last twelve years. The Toreros fought off elimination twice this past weekend to claim the WCC Championship and an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
The WCC Tournament saw the Toreros facing elimination after being shocked by the San Francisco Dons on a walk-off home run last Friday. Then, less than an hour later, the Toreros played again and rallied to knock out the BYU Cougars and set up a rematch with the Dons in a winner-take-all championship game Saturday. In that game freshman Troy Conyers had the game of his life in his first ever college start.
Troy Conyers
Conyers tossed a complete game shutout to beat the Dons and deliver the Toreros their first conference title since 2008. Conyers was named WCC Tournament MVP joining three other Toreros on the All-WCC Tournament Team. This week the entire San Diego sports community is buzzing with talk of Conyers and the Toreros.

On Monday the Toreros learned they will head to the Los Angeles Regional and open NCAA Tournament play this Friday against the Cal Poly Mustangs. The Toreros are also joined in the regional by the host UCLA Bruins and in an amazing twist of fate the cross-town rival San Diego State Aztecs. Depending on first round results an epic rivalry game could be in the cards between the Aztecs and Toreros later in the regional. It is the first time the two schools have made the postseason in the same year, and it could lead to a head-to-head matchup. Three or four wins in Los Angeles and the Toreros will be off to a Super Regional where victory in a three game series would send them to Omaha and the College World Series for the first time in program history. With the Toreros flying high after winning the WCC, a legendary run to Omaha and a shot at the national championship certainly seems like a possibility.

The Toreros continue to be led by their juggernaut offense which ranks among the best in the country. The Toreros averaged seven runs per game in Stockton during the WCC Tournament, so the offense is firing on all cylinders as they head into the NCAA Tournament. Superstar third baseman Kris Bryant continues to anchor the lineup as the best hitter in all of college baseball. Kris hit his nation-leading 31st home run of the year during the WCC Tournament to set a modern era single season record for college baseball. Since the NCAA switched to a new bat in 2011 that decreased power numbers across all of college baseball, no player has hit more home runs in a season than Kris in 2013. Bryant’s bat continues to be the talk of college baseball and it keeps the Toreros in every game regardless of the score. Rumors about where Kris will land in the pros continue to grow as the MLB draft nears in June. Kris will likely become the highest drafted player in USD history and could even be taken first overall by the Houston Astros. He is also a top contender for the Golden Spikes award and will likely be announced as one of the three finalists later this week. 

Troy Conyers meanwhile represents the emergence of some spectacular new starters for the Toreros. Conyers should join fellow USD freshman PJ Conlon as the anchors of the starting rotation heading into the NCAA Tournament. The Toreros pitching staff has turned a corner since the emergence of PJ Conlon midway through the season, and now Conyers has stepped up to join them at the perfect time. Along with future MLB draft picks Michael Wagner and Dylan Covey, the pitching staff is only getting better as the season continues. If the pitching staff can continue to match the offense in production, there is no team that can stop the Toreros.
Ready for the NCAA Tournament!

Friday’s game vs. Cal Poly starts at 2pm. The Toreros will face SDSU or UCLA at 2pm or 6pm Saturday depending on the Friday results. Two more regional games are scheduled for 2pm and 6pm Sunday with an additional game Monday at 6pm if necessary. All games are available on ESPN 3 and you can follow all the action on the USD Athletics Twitter account @USDToreros. If you can make the trip tickets are available to the public through UCLA Athletics for all the regional games. Be sure to cheer on the Toreros on the road to Omaha and a national championship. Go Toreros!

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