Diamond Dawgs Open 2005 Season At Irvine

Feb. 7, 2005

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NEXT WEEKEND: The Washington baseball team (39-20-1 overall, 15-9 (2nd) in the Pac-10 in 2004), opens the 2005 season with a three-game series vs. UC Irvine (2-1) at Anteater Ballpark. The Huskies, ranked No. 8 by Baseball America, No. 12 (tied) in the preseason Sports Weekly/ESPN coaches' poll and No. 17 by Collegiate Baseball, begin this season as they left off the last one -- against the Anteaters, who came to Husky Ballpark for the final weekend of the 2004 regular season. The Huskies face UCI Friday, Feb. 11, at 6:00 p.m. and then at 1:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The UW is expected to start righthanders Tim Lincecum (Fri.), Kyle Parker (Sat.) and Matt Kasser (Sun.). After the Irvine series, the Dawgs travel to Santa Clara for a three-game series the following weekend before a six-game, four-day trip to a tournament at Texas A&M Feb. 25-28. The 2005 home opener is slated for March 2 vs. St. Martin's.

Fri., Feb. 11: UW at UC Irvine, Anteater Balllpark, 6:00 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 12: UW at UC Irvine, Anteater Balllpark, 1:00 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 13: UW at UC Irvine, Anteater Balllpark, 1:00 p.m.

BROADCASTS ON THE WEB: All of Washington's 12 road games to begin the season should be aired live on internet-only audio broadcasts assuming the proper software and hardware is ready to go by this Friday. Please check gohuskies.com later this week to find out for sure if the broadcasts are going to air. For information on how to listen to the games, go to gohuskies.com, and click on the audio/video link. Also check gohuskies.com for any future web broadcasts. Additionally, 20 regular season games will air live on KKNW 1150-AM. Those broadcasts will also be available via the internet. The first scheduled radio broadcasts are the series at Arizona March 24-26.

SERIES HISTORY: Washington and UC Irvine have played against one another each of the last three seasons since the Anteaters resurrected their program prior to the 2002 season. The Huskies have won six of eight games against UCI over the last three years and are 7-4 all-time against Irvine, including games played prior to the program being dropped in 1992. Last year, the Dawgs swept a three-game series from the Anteaters at Husky Ballpark on the final weekend of the regular season. In the opener, Husky starter Kyle Parker out-dueled UCI ace Brett Smith in a 5-3 Husky win. Brent Lillibridge led off the first with a home run to give the UW an early lead. In game two, UW freshman Tim Lincecum earned his 10th win of the season in a 5-4 Husky victory. The Dawgs gave up two in the top of the first, but then scored three in the bottom of the opening frame. An RBI single from Greg Isaacson in the seventh broke a 4-4 tie and gave the Huskies the win. The Dawgs then capped off the regular season in style, scoring four runs in the ninth to win, 8-7 in game three. Kyle Larsen's one-out, two-run single provided the tying and winning runs.

COACH 'K': Last season, Husky baseball coach Ken Knutson became the winningest baseball coach in the history of the program. That accomplishment is just one item on Knutson's impressive resume. In his 12 seasons at the helm of his alma mater's baseball team, Knutson has led the Dawgs to two Pac-10 championships, four Pac-10 Northern Division titles, two other second-place finishes and six NCAA Regionals. His career overall record now stands at 428-273-2 (.610). Before becoming the Husky head man in 1993, Knutson served as the Husky pitching coach for eight seasons. In 1985, his UW pitching staff led the nation with a 2.80 ERA. Knutson holds a 210-90-2 (.699) record in home games. He is 182-124 (.595) in Pac-10 games. Knutson has coached 44 first-team All-Pac-10 selections in 12 seasons, and has been named league coach of the year three times. A 1981 All-Pac-10 left-handed pitcher at the UW, he is joined by assistants Joe Ross, Donny Harrel, and Gregg Swenson and undergrad assistant Ty Kuehl.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Here's a look at the probable starters at each position, with 2004 stats and notes:

Pos.  Player, Year       04 Avg.-HR-RBI Notes C -- Matt Lane, So.         .301-6-26  Regular DH in 2004 started only 1 game at C1B -- Kyle Larsen, Sr.       .344-11-55 Enters 4th season as UW starter at 1B2B -- Mike Rundle, Sr.       .221-1-16  Transfer from Gonzaga takes over for 3-year starter IsaacsonSS -- Brent Lillibridge, Jr. .317-11-36 Enters Jr. season with .347 career avg., 6th in UW history3B -- Nick Batkoski, Sr.     .303-2-33  For 1st time, enters season as starter; 29 starts at SS in `04OF -- Zach Clem, Jr.         .336-13-47 First-team All-Pac-10 in `04; 13 HRs led UWOF -- Taylor Johnson, Sr.    .257-5-27  Semi-regular starter in RF for 3 years; also relieverOF -- Nick Burnham, Jr       .238-0-1   Takes over in CF after 3 starts last seasonDH -- Curt Rindal, So.        injured   One AB in `04 due to left elbow injury

LID-LIFTERS: Considering that the Huskies have only experienced one sub-.500 season in 12 years under coach Ken Knutson, it's perhaps a little surprising that the UW hasn't fared so well in season openers. Blame it on the Seattle weather (affecting practice) or the fact that, usually, the Dawgs' opening day opponent already has a series or two under its belt when the Huskies play them. Either way, Washington is only 5-7 in season openers in 12 seasons under Knutson and have lost their last two (at San Diego last season and at Pepperdine in 2003). In fact, the UW was shut out in the 2003 opener and scored only one run (on a first-inning, leadoff home run from Brent Lillibridge) last year. Here's a look at the Huskies' 12 season-openers during Coach Knutson's tenure:

Feb. 13, 2004  L, 1-5   at San DiegoFeb. 7, 2003   L, 0-1   at PepperdineFeb. 14, 2002  W, 10-6  Missouri (at Phoenix)Feb. 22, 2001  W, 6-5   BYU (at Tucson)Feb. 17, 2000  L, 10-12 Creighton (at Phoenix)Feb. 11, 1999  W, 14-13 BYU (at St. George, Utah.)Feb. 13, 1998  W, 18-4  Florida Atlantic (at Viera, Fla.)Feb. 7, 1997   L, 10-12 at UNLVFeb. 16, 1996  L, 2-5   at Long Beach StateFeb. 17, 1995  L, 8-9   at Cal Poly San Luis ObispoFeb. 18, 1994  W, 8-4   Toledo (at San Diego, Calif.)Feb. 12, 1993  L, 2-3   at Texas A&M

SQUAD BREAKDOWN: Washington's 36-man roster is pretty well balanced for a college baseball roster. The team includes six seniors, nine juniors, seven sophomores and 14 freshmen. Nineteen players are returners while 17 are new (14 of those 17 are true freshmen). Washington's returning players have competed in a total of 857 UW baseball games, and have combined for 2,168 career at bats and 572 and one-third career innings pitched in a Husky uniform.

TOUGH SCHEDULE: Counting those in the 'others receiving votes' category, the preseason Sports Weekly/ESPN coaches' poll ranked 66 teams this season. Washington, which tied with Pac-10 foe Arizona for the No. 12 spot in that poll, will play a total of 31 games against teams that received votes in the preseason ranking. Those 31 games come against 11 different teams, including six conference opponents. The Huskies will play a total of 11 games against four teams ranked in the top 12 in the preseason poll -- three each against No. 6 Stanford, No. 9 Arizona State and No. 12 Arizona, plus two at No. 10 Texas A&M. Well-respected baseball website boydsworld.com ranks the Huskies' schedule as the ninth-toughest in the nation. Also as regards the schedule, the Huskies will play 24 home games this season (plus an exhibition vs. the University of British Columbia) and 32 on the road. Washington's first 12 games will be on the road.

NORTHWEST FLAVOR: As is usually the case, the Husky baseball roster is made up primarily of players from the state of Washington. This year, however, it's nearly unanimous as 35 of the 36 players on the preseason roster are from the state of Washington. The only non-Washingtonian on the team is senior second baseman Mike Rundle, from Bend, Oregon. However, Rundle, in his first season with the Huskies, played last season at Gonzaga, which is located in Spokane, Wash. Of the 35 in-state players, 29 are from the western part of the state (west of the Cascades).

PRESEASON ACCOLADES: Perhaps more than in any other season since the 1999 merger of the Pac-10's two divisions, the preseason publications have a lot of good things to say about the 2005 Husky baseball team. The Huskies were ranked no lower than 17th in the various preseason polls: No. 8 in Baseball America, No. 12 (tied) in the ESPN/Sports Weekly coaches' poll and No. 17 in Collegiate Baseball. Baseball America, in its extensive preview edition, tabbed the UW for a second-place Pac-10 finish, and included the Dawgs in its postseason projections as a No. 1 seed. The Huskies were represented by three players -- SP Tim Lincecum, RP Richie Lentz and SS Brent Lillibridge -- on the preseason All-Pac-10 team while Lincecum was also a Collegiate Baseball preseason All-American first-teamer and Lillibridge made the third team. Baseball America additionally tabbed several Huskies in its top-50 prospects by class. Lincecum was the No. 9 sophomore with Lentz close behind at No. 11. Starting pitcher Kyle Parker was listed as the No. 18 sophomore. Lillibridge was named the No. 36 junior in the nation while first baseman Kyle Larsen was named the No. 14 senior. In its 'best tools' listings for the Pac-10, Baseball America stated that Lincecum has the conference's best breaking ball and Lentz its best fastball. Larsen, also named the preseason 'Gold Glove All-America' team, repeated as the best defensive first baseman in the league while Nick Batkoski was named best defensive third baseman. Finally, Baseball America listed Lincecum as the No. 8 prospect in the Pac-10 for the 2005 draft and listed Lillibridge right behind him at No. 9.

POSITION PLAYER NOTES (in alphabetical order):
Ryan Anderson, Freshman IF: Latest in a long line of Kamiakin HS products to play baseball at the UW ... backs up in the middle infield ... hit .430 as a junior and .420 as a senior in HS.

Nick Batkoski, Senior 3B: For the first time in his career, enters the season as a starter ... has played 2B, 3B, SS, OF and DH during his career, including 29 stats at SS last year .. batted .346 in 81 at bats as a sophomore in 2003 and .303 in 165 at bats last season ... named the Pac-10's top defensive third baseman by Baseball America.

Michael Burgher, Freshman OF: Enters the season as a backup in the outfield ... drafted by the Dodgers in the 36th round of the 2004 draft ... captained his summer team (Shockers) to three state championships.

Nick Burnham, Junior OF: Enters the year as the starting center fielder after a strong fall and spring practice season ... started on opening day last year, but made only two more starts during the season ... saw action in 24 games in 2004, mostly as a pinch runner or defensive replacement ... hit .398 over the summer for the San Francisco Seals.

Zach Clem, Junior OF: After only three at bats as a freshman in 2003, became an everyday starter in left field last year and earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors after batting .336 with a team-high 13 home runs ... hit third most of the season ... played on the Aloha (Ore.) team that won the National Baseball Congress World Series title over the summer.

Stewart Davis, Freshman C: One of three new catchers on the Husky roster ... hit .418 as a senior at Central Valley High in Spokane and then batted .432 with nine homers and 51 RBI for his summer team in 2004.

Joey Dunn, Freshman C: One of three new catchers on the Husky rosters ... three-time team MVP at Inglemoor High ... hit .450 as a senior and then .468 for his summer team last year.

Matt Hague, Freshman IF/OF: Multi-position player backs up at third base and in the outfield and should also see action out of the bullpen ... first-team all-state pitcher and second-team infielder at Kentwood High.

Nick Jiles, Soph. OF: Enters his first season at the UW as a backup outfielder and profiles as a center fielder ... two-time All-Big-9 pick at Davis High in Yakima ... twin brother, NaCoubi, plays baseball at Yakima Valley CC.

Taylor Johnson, Senior OF: Enters the 2005 season as starting right fielder ... has been an off-and-on starter in CF and RF the last three seasons ... expected to pitch out of the bullpen this season for his first time ever in college ... taken in 39th round of 2001 draft (Pittsburgh) ... named No. 8 prospect in his summer league by Baseball America.

Matt Lane, Soph. C: Expected to start at catcher in 2005 after having backed up there last season ... made only one start behind the plate last year, but made 36 starts at DH ... hit .301 with six homers as a freshman ... was a member of the National Baseball Congress World Series champion Aloha (Ore.) team over the summer.

Kyle Larsen, Senior 1B: Enters his fourth year as the everyday starting first baseman ... has made only four errors in 1,517 career chances ... for the third straight year, named the top defensive 1B in the Pac-10 by Baseball America ... also made Baseball America's all-Gold Glove team and was tabbed as the No. 14 senior prospect in the nation ... ranks ninth in UW history in hits (203), ninth in RBI (133) and 10th in home runs (24) ... started all 60 last season and 59 of 60 in 2003 ... started 47 of 61 as a freshman ... drafted by the Mets in the 14th round of the 2001 draft.

Andy Lentz, Freshman OF/IF: Younger brother of UW sophomore P Richie Lentz and former third baseman Ryan Lentz ... backs up in the outfield and infield ... two-time all-league and a high school All-American at Woodinville HS.

Brent Lillibridge, Junior SS: Has earned first-team All-Pac-10 in each of his two previous seasons ... a preseason third-team All-American (Collegiate Baseball) ... preseason All-Pac-10 and the No. 36 junior in the nation by Baseball America ... .347 career average currently ranks sixth in UW history ... also tied for 10th in UW history with 243 home runs ... seven of 11 home runs last season came to lead off a game ... started all 60 games last year at either SS or CF ... played center field much of the last two seasons, but returns to shortstop this year ... started in center for the U.S. National Team in 2003 ... named to the all-tournament team at the NCAA Regional each of the last two years ... .388 average in 2003 was No. 2 in the nation among freshmen and his .699 slugging mark was best among Division I frosh.

Kiel Lillibridge, Freshman IF: Backs up his older brother, Brent, at shortstop ... first-team all-league SS as a senior after making the second-team as a catcher his junior year ... all-state as a senior at Jackson High.

D.J. Neyens, Junior C: Played last two seasons at nearby Edmonds CC, helping Tritons to the NWAACC title his freshman year and a third-place finish his sophomore season ... hit .312 for his summer team in 2004.

Cory Rickard, Junior OF: Played two seasons at Spokane Falls CC before transferring to the UW ... first-team All-Eastern Division as a sophomore when he hit .362 (tops on the team) with a wood bat.

Curt Rindal, Soph. 1B/DH: Expected to be the Huskies' first choice at DH, also backs up at first and could play in the outfield ... got a medical redshirt season last year after dislocating his left (non-throwing) elbow in a practice ... got only one at bat last year, an RBI single off the bench at San Diego in the third game of the season.

Mike Rundle, Senior 2B: Transfer from Gonzaga is expected to start at second base ... hit .221 with a homer and 16 RBI last season at Gonzaga ... played previously at Citrus JC in Glendora, Calif., where he batted .390 as a freshman and .373 as a sophomore ... summer all-league first-teamer, playing for his hometown Bend (Ore.) Elks.

Josh Showers, Junior IF: Didn't see any game action last season, due in part to a hamstring injury ... played in four games, getting two at bats, as a freshman in 2003 ... backs up at second, third and short.

Matt Stevens, Freshman IF/OF: Backs up at third base, first base and in the outfield ... two-time all-league first-teamer at Lake Stevens HS ... also all-area and all-state as a senior ... 6-1 on the mound as a senior.

Tim Lincecum, Sophomore RHP: A preseason All-American after having been named the Pac-10 Pitcher and Freshman of the Year in 2004 ... struck out 161 batters in 112.1 innings last year, breaking the school record for Ks ... also second in the NCAA in strikeouts, behind only Long Beach State's Jered Weaver ... Collegiate Baseball's National Freshman of the Year ... 10-3 with a 3.53 earned run average last season ... the No. 9 sophomore prospect in the nation and the No. 35 college prospect for the 2005 draft by Baseball America ... also tabbed as having the best breaking ball in the league by BA ... named the national player of the week twice last year ... career-high 15 strikeouts came in a six-inning outing Mar. 12, 2004 vs. Loyola Marymount ... the Gatorade state player of the year for Washington in 2003 after an unbelievable senior year ... led Liberty High to the 3A state title and was the state's 3A MVP and first-team all-state pitcher ... as a senior, posted a 12-1 record and a 0.70 earned run average while striking out 183 batters in 91.2 innings ... drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 49th round of the 2003 draft.

Kyle Parker, Sophomore RHP: Moved into the starting rotation partway through his freshman year and spent the last portion of the season as the UW's Friday starter ... finished the season with a 4-3 record and a 3.84 ERA over 75 innings ... .224 opponent batting average ranked third in the Pac-10 ... threw the UW's only complete game in a win over Ole Miss in the NCAA Oxford Regional last year ... led Aloha (Ore.) to the National Baseball Congress World Series championship over the summer ... threw a five-hit, complete-game shutout in the championship game ... Baseball America named him the No. 2 prospect in the Pacific International League (summer) and the No. 18 sophomore in the nation.

Matt Kasser, Junior RHP: Returns to his spot in the Huskies' weekend rotation, which he joined halfway through last season ... beat Western Kentucky in the NCAA Oxford Regional, allowing only one run over seven and two-thirds innings ... won the National Baseball Congress World Series title with the Aloha (Ore.) Knights, winning his start in the tournament ... holds a perfect 5-0 career record as he enters his junior year.

BULLPEN NOTES: Casey Bollinger (Fr. RHP) is one of two UW freshman pitchers from Bothell High ... 14-3 record over his last two high school seasons ... will vie for innings out of the bullpen ... Benji Brown (Fr. RHP) is one of two UW freshman pitchers from Bothell High School, along with Bollinger ... 5-1 with two saves as a HS senior ... son of former Husky outfielder Greg Brown ... Kyle Carson (Fr. LHP) is recovering from in injury that limited his action in the fall ... pitched for Mark Morris High as a senior after having played for Castle Rock High ... also a standout prep quarterback ... Josh Conover (Jr. RHP) switched to a sidearm delivery halfway through last season ... has served as a reliever and spot starter during his career ... after switching to sidearm last year, threw 10 innings, allowing three runs on six hits with eight Ks ... got the win in the regular season finale vs. UC Irvine when the Huskies scored four in the bottom of the ninth ... David Dowling (Sr. LHP) returns after an injury-plagued junior year ... could start or relieve ... after seven wins and 56.1 innings in 2003, was limited by injury to only 22 innings last year ... high school classmate of fellow Husky pitcher Keaton Everitt ... 42 career appearances and five starts entering his senior year ... Keaton Everitt (Jr. RHP) will start and relieve ... started 10 games and appeared in relief once last year ... went 5-3 with a 5.66 ERA ... illness wll likely limit his early-season innings ... Nick Hagadone (Fr. LHP) should see action as a late-inning reliever ... drafted by the Mariners in the 36th round of the 2004 draft ... first-team all-league and team MVP as a senior at Sumner High ... Matt Hague (Fr. RHP) plays third base and outfield besides pitching ... should see action as a late-innings reliever ... led Kentwood High to a second-place state finish last year ... first-team all-state pitcher and second-team all-state infielder in high school ... set a league record for RBI ... Taylor Johnson (Sr. LHP) as been a starting outfielder for most of his career and will start in right this year ... worked as a pitcher in the fall and may see action as a reliever ... has never previously appeared on the mound in college ... Richie Lentz (So. RHP) started eight games and appeared as a reliever in 12 last season ... began last year as a starter (and started on opening day), but will be the UW closer as a sophomore ... has the best fastball in the Pac-10, according to Baseball America ... had an outstanding summer as closer for the Newport (R.I.) Gulls, helping the Gulls to the final game of their league championship series ... had a 1.66 ERA and nine saves during the regular season and three more saves in the playoffs ... named the No. 11 sophomore prospect in the nation and the top prospect in his summer league by Baseball America ... struck out 52 in 49.2 innings last season ... Brandon McKerney (Fr. RHP) played at Meadowdale High for UW baseball alum Ron Martin ... helped team to the state playoffs his junior and senior years ... Emmanuel Pedroza (Jr. LHP) walked on to the UW team last year in his third year in college ... did not pitch in any varsity games but should get a shot out of the bullpen this season ... all-state at Mabton High in 2001 ... Jordan Ponzoha (So. RHP) will start and relieve after having filled a similar role last season ... started three and relieved in seven others as a freshman ... struck out 24 in 23.2 innings last season ... Andrew Powell (Fr. RHP) played three seasons as a pitcher and hitter at Seattle's Bishop Blanchet High ... helped the Braves to the state quarterfinals his senior year ... will look for innings in a relief role.

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