Diamond Dawgs Set For Season Opener

Feb. 19, 2008

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THIS WEEKEND: The Washington baseball team (29-27 overall, 11-13 in the Pac-10 last season) opens the 2008 season this weekend when the Dawgs travel to Riverside, Calif., for a four-game series at defending Big West champion UC Riverside (38-21, 16-5 in 2007). Due to new NCAA rules, Friday is opening day for college baseball all across the country. In most recent previous seasons, the Huskies' opening opponent nearly always had already played games. Game time Friday is 3:00 p.m. while first pitch is slated for 1:00 p.m. the following three days. Fans can listen to a free audio broadcast on 'The Dawg Channel' at gohuskies.com. The Huskies are slated to start junior LHP Nick Haughian on Friday, junior RHP Jason Erickson Saturday, either sophomore RHP Cam Nobles or junior RHP Jorden Merry on Sunday and senior RHP Elliott Cribby on Monday. Here's a look at this weekend's action:

Fri., Feb. 22: UW at UC Riverside, 3:00 p.m. - live audio at gohuskies.com
Sat., Feb. 23: UW at UC Riverside, 1:00 p.m. - live audio at gohuskies.com
Sun., Feb. 24: UW at UC Riverside, 1:00 p.m. - live audio at gohuskies.com
Mon., Feb. 25: UW at UC Riverside, 1:00 p.m. - live audio at gohuskies.com

SERIES HISTORY: Washington holds a slight, 11-10 advantage in the all-time series vs. UC Riverside. Last season, the Huskies swept the Highlanders in a three-game series at Husky Ballpark, winning 8-2, 12-6 and 6-5. In the opener, Jorden Merry held the visitors scoreless in six innings of work for the win while Ty Rasmussen, Matt Hague and Curt Rindal all homered for the UW. In game two, Rindal had three hits and five RBI to pace the UW. Michael Burgher scored three runs and Joey Dunn drove in three. In the finale, Rindal's RBI single in the ninth broke a 5-5 tie. The last time the UW played at UCR, in 2005, the Huskies won the first two (9-0, 19-3) before falling 14-1 in the finale.

COACH 'K': In 2004, Husky baseball coach Ken Knutson became the winningest baseball coach in the history of the program. Last season, he became only the 17th coach in Pac-10 history to reach 500 career wins. Those are just two of the many accomplishments on Knutson's impressive resume. In his 15 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 and six NCAA Regionals. His career record now stands at 526-347-2 (.608). Before becoming the head man in 1993, Knutson served as the UW pitching coach for eight seasons. In 1985, his staff led the NCAA with a 2.80 ERA. Knutson holds a 267-118-2 (.693) record in home games. He is 216-162 (.571) in Pac-10 games. He's coached 52 first-team All-Pac-10 selections in 15 seasons, and has been named league coach of the year three times. A 1981 All-Pac-10 pitcher at the UW, he is joined by assistants Joe Ross, Donny Harrel, and Tighe Dickinson.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Here's a look at the probable starters at each position, with 2007 stats and notes:

Pos. Player, Year  2007 Avg.-HR-RBI  Notes C - Joey Dunn, Sr.       .225-3-16  Veteran has 83 career starts at C; HM All-Pac-10     Brett Wilcox, Jr.     .395-0-5  Joined team before 2nd half of '07; 12 starts at C1B - Troy Scott, Fr.     1st season  All-American hit .600 with 9 HRs at Auburn HS2B - Bradley Boyer, Jr.   .363-3-29  Started 45 games in '07; HM All-Pac-10 in '07     Julien Pollard, Fr. 1st season  Batted .608, earned 2A all-state at Washington HS3B - Jarett Jackson, So. 1st season  JC transfer originally signed at Wash. St.     Aaron Russell, So.    .333-0-0  Played in 10 games in '07; 5-for-15 at the plateSS - Pierce Rankin, Fr.  1st season  3-year team captain at Shorecrest HS     David Bentrott, Fr. 1st season  4A all-state SS and running back at Tahoma HSOF - Michael Burgher, Sr. .287-1-17  18-for-18 on SBs last year; HM All-Pac-10OF - Kyle Conley, So.      .240-0-5  Medical redshirt in '07 despite 50 ABs; mostly RFOF - Jake Rife, So.       .312-2-14  LH-hitter started 27 in LF in '07; 30 starts as freshmanOF - Andy Lentz, Sr.       .300-1-6  Last 2 seasons both shortened by inj.; 24 starts in '07OF - Matt Stevens, Jr.    .229-2-16  Belted 17 home runs as a sophomore in 2006DH - Ty Rasmussen, So.   .308-10-35  HM All-Pac-10 last season; started 34 at DH, 14 in LF

Huskies At Safeco Field: Washington's home game against Arizona on Friday, April 4, will be played at Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners. The Huskies and Wildcats will square off in the first game of a three-game Pac-10 series at 6:30 p.m. that night. Tickets are only $8 and group tickets (groups of 15 or more) are only $5. UW students will be admitted free. Last year, the Huskies beat Oregon State, 6-2, in front of 10,421 fans at Safeco Field in their first ever game at the Mariners' home, setting a Pac-10 attendance record for a conference game. Prior to last season, Washington last played on a big-league field in 1997, when the Huskies playing a tournament at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. The Huskies also used to host a tournament in the Kingdome, the Mariners' former home, and played an exhibition vs. the Mariners in the Kingdome in 1986.

Squad Breakdown: Washington's 38-man roster is unusually balanced last year. After fielding a team with only one senior last year, this year's squad includes five seniors, 11 juniors, seven sophomores, two redshirt freshmen and 13 freshmen, meaning 22 of 38 are freshmen or sophomores. Twenty-two players are returners while 16 are new (13 of those 16 are true freshmen). The UW's returning players have competed in a total of 931 Husky baseball games. Thirteen different veteran position players have combined for 563 starts and 2,152 career at bats while returning pitchers have made 64 career starts and pitched 491.1 innings in a UW uniform.

Rugged Pac-10: Any team that plays in the Pac-10 can say that it has a pretty tough schedule. But this year, all the more so. In the three most widely respected college baseball polls, three different Pac-10 teams were ranked No. 1 this preseason. Collegiate Baseball magazine was first, ranking Arizona No. 1 in its preseason top 40. Then, Baseball America issued its preseason top 25 with UCLA holding the No. 1 spot, just in front of Arizona. Then, the preseason USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll was released with Arizona State voted as the preseason No. 1 team. Then, add in the fact that Oregon State is the two-time defending national champion and isn't even one of those three No. 1 teams and the Pac-10 is clearly a challenge this season. Baseball America's rankings have all four of those teams ranked in its top 10 while the coaches' poll rates four teams among the top 18 in the nation.

Washington's Team: The Husky baseball roster has always been dominated by in-state players, as most college baseball rosters are. The squad consistently has about 90 percent of players from the state of Washington. This year's squad, however, represents a first in the Ken Knutson era as all 38 players on the roster played their high school ball in Washington. In fact, the majority of players (20 out of 38) attended high school in King County, the county in which the UW is located, and 32 of 38 are from either King County or the two counties that abut King Country from the south and north (Pierce and Snohomish, respectively). In other words, 32 of 38 players on this year's team come from within about a 40-mile radius of the UW's Seattle campus.

POSITION PLAYER NOTES (in alphabetical order):
#1 David Bentrott, Fr. IF:
Mainly a shortstop, but could also see time at second and third ... led Tahoma HS to league titles last 2 seasons ... 4A all-state as a senior, batting .479 with 25 runs in 14 league games ... high school teammate of fellow Husky freshman Kirk Wetmore.

#2 Bradley Boyer, Jr. IF/OF: Huskies' top returning offensive player from 2007 season ... slated to start at 2B, but also plays 3B, SS and in the OF ... honorable mention All-Pac-10 ... hit .363 last year, eighth in the Pac-10 ... started 45 of the Huskies' 56 games despite suffering with an ankle injury much of the season ... missed summer ball after surgery ... struck out only 8 times in 182 at bats, the fourth-best ratio in the nation ... only 2 Ks in 90 at bats in league play ... also made 37 starts as a freshman in 2006.

#4 Michael Burgher, Sr. OF: Senior was the Huskies regular in CF last season, starting 46 of 56 ... earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 ... fourth in the Pac-10 with 18 stolen bases (in 18 attempts) ... batted .309 in Pac-10 play, starting all 24 games ... helped Newport (R.I.) to the NECBL championship series during the summer.

#3 Doug Cherry, So. IF: Will miss the first couple of weeks of the season after suffering finger injury in practice in mid-Feb. ... had perhaps the best fall season of anyone on the team ... played in 18 games, starting 2, as a freshman in 2006.

# 24 Jacob Clem, RS-Fr. 1B/P: Redshirted last season ... could play 1B, but mainly a pitcher ... will miss early portion of the season due to mono ... younger brother of Zach Clem, who played at the UW from 2003 to 2006 ... father, Jim, retired prior to last season after long career as coach at Burlington-Edison High.

#29 Kyle Conley, RS-So. OF: Played in 18 games last year, but got a medical redshirt season after injuring a shoulder ... started 13 games last year and 20 as a freshman in 2006 ... probable starter in RF ... along with fellow UW freshman Tyler Cheney, led Richland High to the 4A state title in 2005 ... all-state first-teamer as a senior OF and P.

#18 Joey Dunn, Sr. C: Veteran catcher returns as starter ... honorable mention All-Pac-10 last year ... started 44 of 56 behind the plate last year ... has 83 career starts behind the dish ... allowed just 36 stolen bases last year, catching 19 ... started all 3 last year vs. Riverside, going 3-for-9 with a homer and 3 RBI in the series.

#37 Brendan Gardner-Young, Fr. OF: Left-handed hitting outfielder ... second-team all-state at P and OF as a senior, when he was a Collegiate Baseball honorable mention All-American ... batted .545 as a senior ... teammate of fellow Husky Ben Guidos at Highline HS.

#31 Brock Gates, Fr. 1B: First baseman hit .490 with 8 homers and 23 RBI in 14 league games last year at Decatur HS ... earned 4A all-state first team ... noted in Sports Illustrated after going 5-for-5 with 4 homers, a double and 11 RBI in a game vs. Kent-Meridian.

#21 Jarett Jackson, So. IF: Possible starter at 3B played at South Mountain CC in Phoenix, Ariz., last year ... all-state at senior at Jefferson HS ... originally signed out of HS at Washington State, where his father Steve played offensive guard on the Cougar football team ... father went to high school with UW coach Ken Knutson.

#8 Max Kwan, Jr. C: Seattle native transferred to UW prior to last year after playing at Tulane in 2006 ... played in 3 games, starting 1, for the UW last season ... started 33 games for the Green Wave, helping them to NCAA Regional ... all-state as a junior and senior at Seattle Prep ... drafted by Mariners in 36th round of 2006 draft.

#5 Andy Lentz, Sr. OF: Back at full health after seeing each of last two seasons shortened by injury ... played in 29, starting 24, last season, when he batted .300 ... possible starter in the outfield at any of the three spots ... has seen action at every position except SS, C and P ... hit .268 with seven homers in 127 at bats as a sophomore ... two older brothers (Ryan, Richie) played at UW.

#10 Sean Meehan, Fr. OF/RHP: Mostly an outfielder, but could also see action in relief ... .477 with 10 homers, 38 RBI as a senior at Centralia HS ... 2A all-state as a senior ... all-league WR ... drafted by Rangers in 2007.

#33 Julien Pollard, Fr. IF/OF: Backs up at second base, primarily, but could also play 3B and in the OF ... earned 2A all-state first team as a senior at Washington HS in Tacoma ... hit .608 with 5 HRs, 20 RBI and 12 steals as a senior ... drafted by the Twins in 2007.

#12 Pierce Rankin, Fr. IF: Freshman is possible starter at SS, but could also see action at 3B ... two-time team MVP at Shorecrest, where he played for former Husky Alan Bruns ... grandson of two-time Rose Bowl MVP and college football hall of famer Bob Schloredt (UW '61).

#25 Ty Rasmussen, RS-So. 1B/OF: Spent much of last season as the Huskies' starting DH, where he's likely to start this season ... honorable mention All-Pac-10 last year, when he started 48 games (34 at DH, 14 in LF) ... hit 10 homers in first year at UW ... 6-for-9 with 2 doubles, a homer, 4 RBI and 4 runs in 3 games vs. Riverside last season ... spent the 2006 season at Louisiana-Lafayette, but redshirted.

#6 Jake Rife, Jr. OF: Started 27 games in left field last season ... possible starter in left again this year ... hit .312 as a sophomore last year ... also started in 30 games as a freshman ... sat out the summer season due to wrist surgery that cut his 2007 season short ... 2A state MVP as a high school senior.

#43 Aaron Russell, So. IF: Candidate at third base played in 10 games last season, starting four ... all four starts came at third base ... singled and scored in first career AB, last March 3 vs. UC Irvine ... 2 of his 4 starts came vs. USC in conference play, when he went 3-for-7 with a stolen base.

#41 Ryan Scott, Jr. C: Reserve catcher redshirted last season due to injury after transferring to UW from Tacoma CC ... helped TCC to third-place finish in NWAACC tourney ... younger brother, Troy, is a freshman teammate.

#32 Troy Scott, Fr. 1B: Slated to start at first base... younger brother of Husky junior C Ryan Scott ... led Auburn to runner-up finishes at state as junior and senior ... batted .600 with 9 homers, 27 runs and 17 steals as a senior ... league MVP and Rawlings All-American ... taken by Twins in 2007 draft.

#13 Matt Stevens, Jr. OF/1B: Fourth-year Husky was granted a retroactive medical redshirt season for 2005 and is thus a RS-junior in 2008 ... started 23 game in the OF last year ... could play outfield or first base ... batted .339 over his last 15 games (59 at bats) last year ... started 56 games as a third baseman in 2006 ... belted 17 home runs in 2006, second in the Pac-10and fourth in UW single-season history ... hit for the cycle at CS Northridge on Feb. 18, 2006, finishing the game 5-for-6 with two homers ... got married in Dec., 2007, to wife, Cammie.

#44 Brett Wilcox, Jr. C: Joined UW team at midseason last year, transferring from Bellevue CC ... played in 16 games, starting 12, at catcher in 2007 ... batted a solid .395 in 43 at bats ... left-handed hitter ... went to the National Baseball Congress World Series with the Seattle Studs last summer.

FRI. - Nick Haughian, Junior LHP:
After appearing strictly in relief as a freshman, spent much of last season in the rotation, starting 13 games ... started the third of three games vs. UC Riverside last season, but didn't figure in the decision in a 6-5 UW win ... worked 4.1 innings, allowing 4 runs on 3 hits and 5 walks while fanning 6 ... picked up four victories last year ... first was vs. Pacific, when he gave up 2 runs on 6 hits with a season-high 7 strikeouts in 7.0 innings ... worked the first 7.0 IP of a 7-0 shutout win over CS Northridge, giving up 4 hits ... beat Arizona State, allowing 3 ERs on 11 hits over 7.0 innings ... got a win vs. Portland (May 8), giving up 1 run on 4 hits with 7 Ks over 6.0 ... played summer ball for the Southern California Fire and the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox in the Cape Cod League, helping the Sox to the CCBL championship.

SAT. - Jason Erickson, Junior RHP: Emerged as a regular in the starting rotation in the second half of last season ... picked up lone save in the UW's 8-2 win over UC Riverside last season, allowing 2 runs over 3 innings ... biggest win over 2007 was in the Huskies' 6-2 victory over Oregon State in front of 10,421 fans at Safeco Field ... also earned wins over Southern Utah, Utah Valley and Stanford ... walked only 1 batter in his first 35.1 innings of work last season... 3-3 with a 1.56 ERA for the Mat-Su (Alaska) Miners during summer ball.

SUN. (possible) - Jorden Merry, Junior RHP: A regular member of the UW starting rotation last year ... started 14 and appeared in relief twice ... was 4-1 with a 1.60 ERA to start the season ... had a stretch of 22.2 consecutive scoreless innings in the early part of the year ... threw 6.0 shutout innings in the Huskies' 8-2 win over UCR, allowing 4 hits to beat Riveside ace James Simmons ... came to UW after one season at Lower Columbia CC in Kelso, Wash.

SUN. (possible) - Cam Nobles, Sophomore RHP: Sophomore got only two starts last year before season was ended by injury ... last appearance was vs. UC Riverside, but lasted only 2.1 innings ... as a HS senior, went 10-0 with a 0.71 ERA for state champ Jackson HS, which finished No. 2 in the nation ... teamed with current UW freshman pitcher Geoff Brown in Jackson's starting rotation.

MON. - Elliott Cribby, Senior RHP: Most veteran member of the UW pitching staff has been a starter and reliever during UW career ... had 10 saves two seasons ago, his first at the UW after transferring from Columbia Basin CC ... has 9 starts and 40 relief outings in Husky career ... last year, threw two scoreless innings to close out the UW's 12-6 win over UC Riverside ... beat Oregon Stater with a six-inning start last year ... also got a Pac-10 win in a start vs. California ... honorable mention All-Pac-10 as a sophomore in 2006 ... father, Ed, was a UW baseball player in the 1970s ... earned all-league honors playing with Wenatchee (Wash.) during the summer.

BULLPEN NOTES: Geoff Brown (Fr. LHP) could be the Huskies' closer as the season gets underway ... high-school teammate (one year younger) of Cam Nobles ... helped 2006 Jackson High team to state 4A title and No. 2 ranking in Baseball America's final poll ... went 10-0 with a 0.98 ERA as a junior and 6-2 with a 0.93 ERA as a senior ... earned 4A all-state as a senior ... drafted byt the Royals in the 23rd round of the 2007 draft ... Nate Burgher (Fr. LHP) will not play this season after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery last fall ... led Brewster HS to back-to-back state titles as a sophomore and junior ... first cousin of Husky senior OF Michael Burgher ... Tyler Cheney (Jr. LHP) has appeared in 31 games during UW career, 13 in relief and 18 as a starter ... 2-3 with a 4.47 earned run average as a sophomore last season ... started 12 games as a freshman in 2006 ... high-school teammate of fellow Husky Kyle Conley ... state's 4A MVP after leading Richland High to state title his senior year ... Jacob Clem (RS-Fr. LHP) is listed as a first baseman and right-handed pitcher ... will miss the first portion of the season due to mono ... redshirted last season ... younger brother of former Husky standout Zach Clem ... 7-2 with a 1.22 ERA and three saves as a senior at Burlington-Edison HS, where he played for his dad, Jim ... Ricky Denham (Fr. RHP) will miss early portion of season due to injury, but should return ... two-time team MVP at Meadowdale HS, which he led to fourth-place finish at state his senior year ... Paul Dickey (Jr. RHP) transferred to UW after two-year career at Lower Columbia CC ... earned first-team All-NWAACC as a sophomore, when he was 9-1 with a 1.40 ERA and 80 strikeouts ... has been drafted twice, by the Rockies in 2006 and the Pirates in 2005 ... Ben Guidos (RS-Fr. LHP) sat out last season after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery ... returned to action in time for summer ball, when he helped Moses Lake (Wash.) to the WCCBL championship ... started 7 games for the Pirates, going 3-2 with a 2.43 ERA ... three-time all-league pitcher and 3A state player of the year in 2006 at Highline HS ... HS teammate of fellow Husky Brendan Gardner-Young ... Dustin Horsfall (Fr. RHP) was a two-time all-league selection at Federal Way High School, where he also played football ... posted a 12-2 record for his summer team in 2007 ... Sean Meehan (Fr. RHP) could see action as a outfielder and eventually as a pitcher ... named 2A all-state at pitcher as a senior at Centralia HS ... drafted by the Rangers in 2007... Brian Pearl (So. RHP) might have been a candidate to start at third base, but a preseason injury will limit him to relief action at least during the early part of the season ... started 38 games last year, 30 at shortstop ... batted .274 as a freshman in 2007 ... appeared in two games in relief last year ... threw an inning each vs. UC Irvine (Mar. 3) and Arizona (May 19), and didn't allow an earned run ... made 13 relief appearances in summer ball for the Bend (Ore.) Elks ... Josh Scofield (Sr. LHP) transferred to UW after a season at Texas Tech last year ... played two seasons at the College of Southern Nevada after graduating from Newport HS in Bellevue, Wash. ... drafted the Pirates in the 2004 draft ... Forrest Snow (Fr. RHP) was a two-time All-Metro pitcher at Seattle's Lakeside School ... first player ever drafted out of Lakeside, as the Mariners took him in 2007 ... Kirk Wetmore (Fr. LHP) earned first-team all-state as a senior, when he was 5-0 with a 1.69 ERA ... teamed with current Husky classmate David Bentrott to lead Tahoma to top-four state finishes and league titles as a junior and senior.

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