FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
SPOKANE, Wash. – The Gonzaga University baseball team will have a challenging, but exciting, year come 2011 as Mark Machtolf, entering his eighth season at the helm of the Bulldogs, announced the club’s schedule Thursday.
The 2011 slate features seven schools that participated in last year’s NCAA Baseball Championship and will face teams from the Big West, Pacific-10, Big 12, Big Ten, Mountain West and Western Athletic conferences.
“It’s probably the most challenging schedule since I’ve been associated with the program for roughly 20 years,” Machtolf said. “We’re going to find out a lot about our team so I’m excited, but we’re going to have to play very well to get through it.”
The Zags, who finished the 2010 season 20-36 overall and 8-13 in the West Coast Conference, open 2011 on the road for the first 19 contests.
The season starts in Fresno, Calif., Feb. 18-20 where the Zags will take on two former College World Series champions Fresno State University and Oregon State University twice. The Bulldogs, who are the defending WAC regular season champions, won the College World Series in 2008 while the Beavers won the title in 2006 and successfully defended it in 2007. The Beavers also participated in the NCAA Baseball Championship.
On the following weekend Gonzaga heads to College Station, Texas, for a three-game series against another NCAA Baseball Championship participant, Texas A&M.
The Bulldogs will have a busy week following the series against the Aggies as they will play eight games in nine days. On March 4-6 the Bulldogs travel to Stockton, Calif., to take on the University of the Pacific in a three-game series. The two teams met last season in San Antonio, Texas, in the Irish Baseball Classic with the Tigers defeating the Bulldogs 6-1.
After having a day off Monday, the Bulldogs’ will stop at Columbia, Mo., to take on the University of Missouri March 8-9 for a two-game midweek series. The two teams met on opening day last season in Tucson, Ariz. The Zags claimed the victory 10-6.
From Columbia the Bulldogs will head to Minneapolis, Minn., for the weekend to participate in the Metrodome Tournament held at the Metrodome. The Bulldogs are scheduled to meet up with the University of Illinois, defending Big Ten champion University of Minnesota and Butler University, respectively. The Bulldogs wrap up the month-long road trip March 18-20 to play the Irish Baseball Classic held in San Antonio, Texas. The Zags will take on the University of Notre Dame and the University of Iowa twice.
March 25-27 will be the first set of home games for the Zags as they host NCAA Baseball Championship participant UC Irvine for a three-game series. The Bulldogs and Anteaters met last season in Irvine, Calif., where the Anteaters swept the three-game series while being ranked No. 15 that week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
“Opening up at home [against UC Irvine] I think it’s a testimony to our program that we are able to get schools like that to play us at home,” Machtolf said. “We are excited about it. They are a great team, a great program, but also there are other teams that are equally as challenging for their own reasons.”
Two days following the series against the Anteaters, the Bulldogs will make a day trip to Pullman to face in-state rival and NCAA Baseball Championship participant Washington State University in the first of three meetings this season. The second meeting will be held at Patterson Baseball Complex and Washington Trust Field April 5 and the series concludes back in Pullman April 12.
The Bulldogs will have a season-long seven-game homestand, all against participants of last year’s NCAA Baseball Championship. The stand begins with three games against University of New Mexico April 1-3, the Cougars in the second game of the season series and the Bulldogs against defending WCC champion University of San Diego April 8-10 for the conference opener.
The Bulldogs will head to Provo, Utah, May 9-10 to take on Brigham Young University for two games. The Cougars will join the WCC for the 2012 baseball season.
Gonzaga wraps up its non-conference schedule May 17-18, heading to Eugene, Ore., to take on the University of Oregon who made its first NCAA Baseball Championship appearance since the program was reinstated in 2009. The two teams met last season in Spokane with the then 18th-ranked Ducks sweeping the Bulldogs in the two-game series.
The regular season ends May 27-29 at home against the University of San Francisco. For the second straight season there will not be a WCC post-season championship series. The regular-season champion will receive the WCC’s automatic berth into the NCAA Regionals.
The schedule couldn’t get any tougher for the Bulldogs.
“They are all kind of unique and they are very good teams,” Machtolf said. “If you look on the schedule there is not one soft game in there. We’re just starting to prepare every day and we are looking forward to it.”