It never ceases to amaze me how seasoned baseball observers will come to a conclusion based only on a small sampling of the season.
How do you decide that what happens in a week — or worse, a weekend — is the way it's going to be in a 56-game season? Especially when those observations are made at the start of the year when everything is still shaking out.
But that was the sense I got hanging around USD's Cunningham Stadium in the season's first three weeks of the season. Was it that USD had lost four of five games to crosstown rival SDSU or that the Toreros were struggling to get above .500? How soon they forget. USD was 7-7 last season when the Toreros went on a 10-game winning streak. USD won a school-record 44 games by the time it was over. The Toreros came within a game of advancing to the NCAA Super Regionals, their season ended by a Fresno State team that went on to win the national championship.
USD was 8-9 this year after losing the first two games of a series at Rice. Winning the last game of the three-game series against the Owls got USD back to .500, but it didn't prevent the Toreros from tumbling out of the top 25. That victory did start a stretch of 11 wins in 12 games that has USD at 19-10 and knocking on the door of the top 25 again. We'll see Monday if Baseball America answers.
By the way, that 19-10 record? It's exactly where the Toreros were this time last year. With one big difference. They opened West Coast Conference play in 2008 by losing two out of three games to Santa Clara. USD opened WCC action this weekend with a three-game sweep. Either USD or Pepperdine has won every WCC championship since 2000 and they are the favorites for the 2009 title as well. The sweep ensures that the Toreros will host the WCC Championship Series (a best-of-three affair) should the teams meet to determine who receives the conference's automatic NCAA Tournament berth.
A few highlights in the sweep of the Waves:
— Two homers by right fielder James Meador in Friday's 8-6 win.
— Freshman Bryan Haar's first two collegiate homers, one on Friday and another in Saturday's 4-0 win.
— Matt Thomson's two-hit, complete-game shutout in Saturday's victory. Campbell had a career-high 10 strikeouts.
— A.J. Griffin closing out the victory over the last 2 2/3 innings in Friday's opener and pitching the first five innings on the way to a 9-4 win in today's finale.
— USD is now 10-1 against Pepperdine since 2007.