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This Week in WAC Baseball - April 8

This Week in WAC Baseball - April 8

Complete Release (PDF)

 
SACRAMENTO STATE'S SMITH NAMED WAC HITTER OF THE WEEK
Sacramento State's Matt Smith has been named WAC Hitter of the Week for April 1 through April 7. Smith, a junior outfielder from Placerville, Calif. (El Dorado HS), started hitting on Wednesday and never stopped, posting a .643 batting average to go along with a .737 on-base percentage and 1.286 slugging percentage. After going 1-for-4 with an RBI in a road loss to Nevada on Wednesday, he was nearly perfect in a WAC-series sweep of CSU Bakersfield, hitting 8-for-10 against the 'Runners with seven runs scored, seven RBIs and four extra-base hits. His best game came on Saturday, going a perfect 3-for-3 from the plate with a double, triple and home run and scoring four times in a 10-7 win over CSUB. In conference play, he is hitting .457 and leads the WAC in runs scored with 13.
 
Other Hitter of the Week nominees: California Baptist's Ryan Mota had five RBIs to go along with three extra-base hits in the Lancers' series win over Seattle U … CSU Bakersfield's Jesse Rowley had a .529 on-base percentage to lead the 'Runners on the week … Chicago State's Reggie Brock Jr. was 5-for-10 in the Cougars' WAC series at UT Rio Grande Valley, including 2-of-3 in CSU's 1-0 win on Sunday … Grand Canyon's Cuba Bess hit three home runs on the week to take over the team lead at eight … NM State's Joseph Ortiz was 7-for-13 from the plate to help lead the Aggies to a series win over visiting Grand Canyon … Northern Colorado's Jack Pauley had three home runs in a tight series loss to Utah Valley … Seattle U's Kyler Murphy hit .625 on the week, earning a hit in all four games the Redhawks played … UT Rio Grande Valley's Coleman Grubbs had his second three-hit game of the season on Friday in an 8-1 win over Chicago State … Utah Valley's Ryan Eastburn helped lead the Wolverines to a series win at Northern Colorado, hitting .714 with five RBIs and no strikeouts.
 
SACRAMENTO STATE'S DALTON NAMED WAC PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Sacramento State's Tanner Dalton has been named Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week for April 1 through April 7. Dalton, a senior right-hander from Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada (Prairie Baseball Academy), saw action in all four of Sacramento State's games last week and recorded a pair of wins and a save out of the bullpen in a series sweep of CSU Bakersfield. Against the 'Runners, he came out of the bullpen on Friday and threw two winnings to earn the win in a 4-3 decision. Returning to the bump on Saturday, he earned a one-inning save and then again made an appearance on Sunday, earning the win in a 5-4 walk-off win. On the week, he threw 5.0 innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on three hits with four strikeouts. 
 
Other Pitcher of the Week nominees: California Baptist's Logan Rinehart struck out six over 7.1 innings to earn the win on the road at Seattle U on Friday evening … Chicago State's Valdes Rodny earned the win on Sunday at UTRGV, striking out four and allowing just two hits over 5.0 innings in a 1-0 victory … Grand Canyon's Coen Wynne threw 2.2 innings of hitless relief in a 9-2 loss at NM State on Sunday … NM State's Chance Hroch earned his seventh win of the season, allowing two runs on three hits over 8.2 innings in a 9-2 win over Grand Canyon on Sunday … UT Rio Grande Valley's Trevelle Hill struck out five and allowed one run on four hits in an 8-1 win over Chicago State … Utah Valley's Jake Carr pitched seven strong innings to earn the win over Northern Colorado on Friday afternoon.
 
ON DECK
The non-conference schedule kicks off Monday afternoon with Utah Valley traveling to Air Force and California Baptist taking on Washington in Seattle. On Tuesday, UVU wraps up the brief two-game series with Air Force. Seattle U heads to the palouse to take on Washington State while Grand Canyon plays host to Arizona in WAC vs. Pac-12 action. NM State heads to Midland, Texas for a neutral-site matchup with 13th-ranked Texas Tech. Sacramento State makes the trip to Santa Clara, Chicago State travels to Valparaiso and CSU Bakersfield hosts UC Riverside to wrap up the Tuesday schedule. UT Rio Grande Valley is the only team in action on Wednesday, playing an afternoon tilt at Houston Baptist.
 
In WAC play, league-leading Sacramento State heads up to Seattle U as the Hornets will look to stay atop the standings while the Redhawks look to get back into the hunt for a tournament berth. UT Rio Grande Valley will also look to increase its tournament odds when the Vaqueros head to Phoenix for a three-game series with Grand Canyon. In other action, Chicago State heads to Utah Valley, Northern Colorado visits NM State and CSU Bakersfield battles at California Baptist.
 
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING
NM State continues to lead the WAC both at the plate (.370 batting average) and in the field (.979 fielding percentage). Sacramento State has the low staff ERA at 3.25. Individually, NM State sophomore Nick Gonzales is the top player at the plate, boasting a .452 batting average and also leads the WAC in runs scored (47) and total bases (102). Teammates Tristen Carranza and Tristan Peterson share the lead in home runs (13) while fellow Aggie Joseph Ortiz for the lead in hits (58), RBIs (53), doubles (16) and triples (5). On the mound, UT Rio Grande Valley's Trevelle Hill has the low ERA at 1.98 while CSUB's Darius Vines is the strikeout leader with 65 through 49.2 innings pitched.
 
In WAC-only play, NM State leads the league in batting average (.335). UT Rio Grande Valley has the low ERA (2.18) while Grand Canyon is the leader on defense (.982 fielding percentage). CSUB's Jesse Rowley boasts the top batting average (.517) while CBU's Andrew Bash has the low ERA among starting pitchers at 1.15.
 
GOING THE DISTANCE
The pitchers of the WAC ended the month of March with a bang as the league saw three complete-game shutouts on March 31. CSU Bakersfield's Edgar Barclay threw a one-hit shutout in a 9-0 win over Seattle U, Sacramento State's Scott Randall allowed just two hits over nine innings in a 1-0 win at CBU and NM State's Chance Hroch went all seven innings, allowing just one hit, in a 12-0 win at Chicago State.
 
END OF THE ROAD
Not only did California Baptist win its first-ever WAC baseball series over preseason favorite Grand Canyon but the Lancers ended the nation's longest active conference series winning streak at 17. The Lopes had won every WAC series since May 2016 until opening weekend of the 2019 season.
 
HANA HOU
After striking out 11 batters against Fairleigh Dickinson on March 10, CSU Bakersfield lefthander and Hilo, Hawai'i native Edgar Barclay struck out 10 Hawai'i batters and allowed just one hit in a complete game shutout on March 17 in Honolulu. He again threw a gem in a 9-0 win against Seattle U, striking out 10 batters and allowing one hit in a complete game shutout.
 
FREE BASEBALL
California Baptist's 3-2 walk-off win over Pacific on March 8 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.
 
PETERSON NAMED NCBWA HITTER OF THE WEEK
The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) released its National Player of the Week awards for the period ending March 24 and NM State junior infielder Tristan Peterson was named National Hitter of the Week. Peterson was the top hitter in the WAC during the opening weekend of conference play in a series win against CSU Bakersfield and also chipped in a solid non-conference game at Arizona. On the week, the Tucson, Arizona, native was 12-of-19 from the plate with 13 RBI, five home runs and seven runs scored. All five home runs and 10 of those RBI came in a three-game series against CSU Bakersfield, as the transfer helped the Aggies outscore the 'Runners, 44-14. Through the first three games of WAC play, he is hitting .643 with a 1.786 slugging percentage.
 
GONZALES NAMED NCBWA PLAYER OF MONTH FOR FEBRUARY
New Mexico State sophomore infielder Nick Gonzales has been named the National Player of the Month for February. The NCAA leader in hits (28), homers (six), hits per game (3.11) and RBI (27) during February, Gonzales has shined under Coach Brian Green's tutelage at New Mexico State. He hit .636 (28-for-44) during the month, with four doubles, one triple, a 1.182 slugging percentage and a .630 on-base clip, stealing two bases. A native of Vail, Ariz., Gonzales was named the Western Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year after hitting .347 with 17 doubles, nine homers and 36 RBI in 2018. Through his first 13 starts of 2019, Gonzales has hit .590 (36-for-61) with six doubles, one triple, 10 homers and 37 RBI.
 
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.