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This Week in WAC Baseball - Feb. 25

This Week in WAC Baseball - Feb. 25

Complete Release (PDF)

 
NMSU'S GONZALES NAMED WAC HITTER OF THE WEEK
NM State's Nick Gonzales has been named WAC Hitter of the Week for Feb. 18 through Feb. 24. Gonzales, a sophomore infielder from Vail, Ariz. (Cienega HS), earns honors for the second straight week after another dominating week at the plate. Picking up a hit in each of the Aggies' four games with NM State, he finished the week hitting .611 (11-of-18) from the plate, posting a 1.222 slugging percentage with six extra-base hits. He drove in 11 runs and scored another seven as NM State took 3-of-4 from the Bulldogs. On the season, Gonzales is hitting .675 with 19 runs scored, 27 RBIs and six home runs. 
 
Other Hitter of the Week nominees: California Baptist's Luke Navigato helped the Lancers to a 5-0 week, hitting .429 with nine runs scored and seven RBIs in wins over Kansas State and Ohio … CSU Bakersfield's Jake Ortega hit .444 for the Runners in losses to Cal Poly and San Francisco … Grand Canyon's Quin Cotton was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored in the Lopes' 4-1 upset win at 17th-ranked TCU on Friday … Sacramento State's Keith Torres led the Hornets in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage in a four-game series with Pacific … Seattle U's Chase Wells was 6-for-13 with six RBIs and six runs scored in a series split with Omaha … UT Rio Grande Valley's Christian Sepulveda stole home twice and scored four runs as the Vaqueros went 4-1 on the week … Utah Valley's Alexander Marco was 7-for-19 from the plate to lead the Wolverines on the week.
 
CBU'S DELGADO NAMED WAC PITCHER OF THE WEEK
California Baptist's Angel Delgado has been named Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week for Feb. 18 – Feb. 24. Delgado, a senior right-hander from Beaumont, Calif. (Beaumont HS), earned his second win of the season in a 4-1 win over Ohio on Saturday. Allowing just one unearned run on four hits with six strikeouts and no walks, he kept the Lancers perfect in their inaugural Division I season. He is one of two starting pitchers in the WAC that have not allowed an earned run with 15 strikeouts and two walks in 12.0 innings pitched.
 
Other Pitcher of the Week nominees: CSU Bakersfield's Darius Vines struck out nine in six scoreless innings before settling for the no-decision in a 2-0 loss to San Francisco on Friday … Grand Canyon's Kade Mechals was the winning pitcher in Friday's 4-1 upset win over 17th-ranked TCU, allowing one run on just three hits with six strikeouts in 6.1 innings … NM State's Chance Hroch earned the win in the Aggies' series-finale against Yale, allowing one earned run with three strikeouts in 7.1 innings on the hill … Sacramento State's Scott Randall allowed one run on three hits with seven strikeouts in 7.0 innings to hand Pacific its first loss of the season … Seattle U's Jake Prizina earned his second win of the season, allowing one hit over five scoreless innings with five strikeouts in a 12-0 victory over Omaha … UT Rio Grande Valley's Jerred Quartier allowed just one hit over four innings to earn the win in his first appearance since Tommy John surgery … Utah Valley's Paxton Schultz made a pair of starts, going seven innings at Fresno State before striking out 11 over seven innings in a no-decision at South Carolina.
 
ON DECK
The schedule begins to look more like the regular season this week with a handful of midweek games and mostly the traditional two-team series this weekend. In midweek action, NM State heads to fourth-ranked Texas Tech, Sacramento State visitis UC Davis, Grand Canyon hosts UC Riverside and CSU Bakersfield heads to the coast to take on Cal Poly. The marquee weekend series looks to be Sacramento State visiting seventh-ranked UCLA for three games. Grand Canyon will also be in the City of Angels for a three-game set at USC. NM State hosts Delaware, UT Rio Grande Valley hosts Rhode Island, CSU Bakersfield hosts Santa Clara and Northern Colorado hosts North Dakota State. Seattle U hits the road for the second time in three weeks, traveling to Pacific. Newcomer, and undefeated, California Baptist will look to stay perfect as they trade sites for three games with neighbor UC Riverside. Chicago State is the only squad participating in a multi-team tournament as the Cougars will take on Villanova and Mount St. Mary's at the Snowbird Classic in Florida.
 
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING
Two weeks into the regular season, NM State leads the WAC in hitting (.447) and fielding (.977) and California Baptist is the leader in pitching (2.16 ERA). NM State's Nick Gonzales continues to be outstanding at the plate, leading the WAC in batting average (.675), hits (27), RBIs (27), home runs (6), total bases (51) and is tied with three others for the lead in doubles (4). Teammate Logan Bottrell is the leader in runs scored (20) while four are tied for the lead in triples with two each. On the mound, both SU's Jake Prizina and CBU's Angel Delgado have yet to allow an earned run while UVU's Paxton Shultz has struck out a league-high 18 batters this season.
 
QUITE A DEBUT
In their first season playing NCAA Division I, the California Baptist Lancers are a perfect 9-0. Through Feb. 24, they are one just just 16 DI unbeatens left in the country and the first to nine wins.
 
GUNS BLAZING
The NM State offense came out firing on opening weekend, scoring 98 runs in a four-game sweep of Texas Southern. In a Saturday doubleheader, the Aggies outscored the Tigers, 62-14, including a 38-6 win in the nightcap that came within a run of the WAC record set by NM State in 2018.
 
WAC COACHES SELECT GCU, COTTON, WHITTLESEY AS PRESEASON FAVORITES
Grand Canyon is the preseason favorite to win the 2019 Western Athletic Conference baseball title while GCU's Quin Cotton and NM State's Brock Whittlesey were selected WAC Preseason Player and Pitcher of the Year respectively in a vote of the league's 10 head coaches, who could not vote for their own team or players.
 
The Lopes, the 2018 WAC regular season champions, received five first place votes to finish atop the preseason poll with 75 points. NM State, the 2018 WAC tournament champions, were just one point back of GCU, taking three first-place votes for 74 total points. Sacramento State was selected third, picking up the final two first-place votes to total 69 points. Seattle U was selected fourth with 54 points, followed by California Baptist and UT Rio Grande Valley tying for fifth place with 37 points each. CSU Bakersfield is picked seventh, followed by Northern Colorado, Utah Valley and Chicago State.
 
Cotton and Whittlesey highlight the Preseason All-WAC squad. NM State leads the way with six players as the Aggies' Braden Williams, Caleb Henderson, Nick Gonzales, Joey Ortiz and Tristen Carranza join Whittlesey on the list. Seattle U had three honored as Austin Lively, Justin Mazzone and Jake Prizina represent the Redhawks. Cotton is joined by GCU teammate Pikai Winchester. Sacramento State had two selections as well as pitchers Scott Randall and Tanner Dalton were each honored. Northern Colorado's Jack Pauley rounded out the 14-member team.
 
GCU'S COTTON EARNS PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN NODS
Grand Canyon outfielder Quin Cotton has earned a pair of preseason honors as the WAC Preseason Player of the Year has been named a second team preseason All-American by Perfect Game and third team preseason All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Cotton was named the 2018 WAC Player of the Year for a breakout sophomore campaign in which he hit .390 with 29 extra-base hits and 43 RBIs. 
 
The Parker, Colo., native's statistics flooded the national leaderboards last season to rank 14th in batting average (.390), 11th in hits (94) and 27th in runs per game (1.09). Following up the breakout spring season, Cotton succeeded at the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League over the summer and was named an All-Star there.
 
WELCOME TO THE WAC
California Baptist joins the Western Athletic Conference as a full-time member in 2018-19. The Lancers won the NCAA Division II Learfield Cup in 2017-18. They will begin their four year transition process to Division 1. This will make them ineligible to compete in post season tournaments (WAC and NCAA) until 2022-2023 season. The Lancers made it to the NCAA Division II West Regionals each of the last five years.
 
COMING SOON
Dixie State will join the Western Athletic Conference as a full-time member in 2020-21 in conjunction with CSU Bakersfield leaving the conference. The Blazers will begin their four-year transition process to Division I in July 2020, making them ineligible to compete in post season tournaments (WAC and NCAA) until the 2024-25 season.
 
WAC TOURNAMENT RETURNS TO HOHOKAM STADIUM
For the fifth straight season, the WAC Baseball Tournament will head to Hohokam Stadium, preseason home of the Oakland Athletics. Renovated prior to spring training in 2015, improvements to Hohokam Stadium are immediately noticeable as the exterior and entrance gates has been painted and re-branded with the familiar Oakland Athletics green and gold color scheme.  Managed by hall of famer Mark Gallo, the stadium also features refurbished seating, a state-of-the art scoreboard and a new and expanded clubhouse.  The bleachers along the left field and right field foul lines have been replaced with party decks. The top six teams from the WAC's regular season standings will advance to the tournament.The WAC Baseball Tournament is no stranger to the state of Arizona and the City of Mesa. The league's championship has been played in Arizona 17 times (1963, 65, 67, 69, 71, 73, 75, 76, 78, 2010, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18) and the event was held in Mesa in 1971, 1973, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.  NM State won the 2018 tournament, earning the WAC's automatic qualification to the NCAA Tournament.