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This Week in WAC Baseball - March 11

This Week in WAC Baseball - March 11

Complete Release (PDF)

NM STATE'S CARRANZA NAMED WAC HITTER OF THE WEEK
NM State's Tristen Carranza has been named WAC Hitter of the Week for March 4 through March 10. Carranza, a senior outfielder from El Centro, Calif. (Brawley HS), led the WAC in slugging percentage on the week, belting five extra-base hits in a series win over La Salle. With a hit in each game, his best performance was in the nightcap of a Saturday doubleheader, going 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored on a pair of home runs. For the week, he finished 9-for-18 from the plate with a double, triple and three home runs, bumping his season total up to 11. 
 
Other Hitter of the Week nominees: California Baptist's Ryan Mota had three home runs and seven RBIs in a 10-3 win over Pacific on Saturday … CSU Bakersfield's Noah Barba hit .533 on the week with seven runs scored as the 'Runners earned a three-game sweep against Farleigh Dickinson … Grand Canyon's Brock Burton had the walk-off hit on Wednesday in a 3-2 win over Nevada … Sacramento State's Martin Vincelli-Simard had four RBIs on Saturday in a 13-4 win over Towson … UT Rio Grande Valley's Anthony Gomez drove in a career-high five RBIs against Massachusetts on Sunday.
 
CBU'S BOOTH NAMED WAC PITCHER OF THE WEEK
California Baptist's Travis Booth has been named Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week for March 4 through March 10. Booth, a graduate right-hander from Chino Hills, Calif. (Ontario Christian HS), threw a gem in the series opener against Pacific, holding the Tigers to just three hits over eight scoreless innings in a 6-0 win. He finished the game with nine strikeouts and just one walk after taking a no-hitter into the fourth inning. He leads the WAC in ERA at 0.53 through 17.0 innings pitched, boasting a 2-0 record with 21 strikeouts and just four walks.
 
Other Pitcher of the Week nominees: CSU Bakersfield's Edgar Barclay struck out 11 over seven innings to earn the win on Sunday against Farleigh Dickinson … Grand Canyon's Nick Ohanian earned the win on Wednesday against Nevada, throwing 2.1 no-hit innings with five strikeouts before the GCU walk-off in the ninth … NM State's Wyatt Kelley earned the win on Saturday and also threw a no-hit inning on Sunday against La Salle  … Sacramento State's Parker Brahms went seven innings deep to earn the win on Friday against Towson, allowing just three hits with six strikeouts and no runs scored against him … UT Rio Grande Valley's Trevelle Hill had a career-high eight strikeouts over seven innings to earn the win Saturday against Massachusetts.
 
ON DECK
Just one weekend of non-conference play remains before WAC play begins on March 22. In midweek rivalry action, Northern Colorado visits Air Force, UC Davis heads to Sacramento State, UT Rio Grande Valley hosts Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Seattle U heads to Portland. Notable weekend series include CSU Bakersfield heading to Hawai'i, UT Rio Grande Valley traveling to Kansas State, California Baptist going to UC Santa Barbara, Seattle U visiting San Diego State and NM State taking on Nebraska.
 
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING
NM State continues to lead the WAC both at the plate (.403 batting average) and in the field (.977 fielding percentage). California Baptist has the low staff ERA at 2.96. Individually, NM State sophomore Nick Gonzales is the top player at the plate, boasting a .545 batting average and also leads the WAC in hits (42), runs scored (34), RBIs (42), total bases (84) and is tied with teammate Tristen Carranza for the lead in home runs with 11. CBU's Luke Navigato is the doubles leader with eight while three players are tied for the lead in triples with three each. CBU's Travis Booth has the low ERA at 0.53 while CSUB's Darius Vines is the strikeout leader with 36 through 24.0 innings pitched.
 
FREE BASEBALL
California Baptist's 3-2 walk-off win over Pacific on Friday night was the 12th 15-inning game in WAC history, tying the Lancers for fifth on the all-time list of longest games by innings in league history. It is also the longest featuring two teams from the same state since Fresno State beat San Diego, 3-2, in a WAC-record 22 innings on March 26, 2011.
 
STINGERS UP
Sacramento State earned a marquee win on March 3, knocking off seventh-ranked UCLA, 2-1, in Los Angeles. It was the WAC's first win over a top-10 opponent since Feb. 18, 2018 when Grand Canyon beat ninth-ranked TCU, 9-8, in 12 innings.
 
QUITE A DEBUT
In their first season playing NCAA Division I, the California Baptist Lancers got off to a 9-0 start and were the first team in the country to reach 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.