Apr 15, 2019
Complete Release (PDF)
NM STATE'S ORTIZ NAMED WAC HITTER OF THE WEEK
NM State's Joseph Ortiz has been named WAC Hitter of the Week for April 8 through April 14. Ortiz, a junior infielder from Garden Grove, Calif. (Pacifica HS), was a menace at the plate, going 8-for-19 with six extra-base hits and 10 RBIs. He opened the week with a double and run scored in a loss to 11th-ranked Texas Tech. In the Aggies' weekend series against Northern Colorado, he was 7-for-14 from the plate with a home run in each contest. He saved the best for last, hitting for the cycle with eight RBIs in a 19-9 win on Sunday afternoon. On the season, Ortiz ranks second in the WAC in batting average, hitting .431 with a WAC-high 66 hits and 63 RBIs.
Other Hitter of the Week nominees: California Baptist's Chad Castillo hit a team-high .462 over four games last week, including a three-game sweep over CSU Bakersfield … CSU Bakersfield's Tyler Jorgenson hit his first career home run on Sunday at California Baptist … Chicago State's Gabe Coburn was 5-for-11 with four runs scored to help the Cougars earn a crucial WAC road series win at Utah Valley … Grand Canyon's Quin Cotton was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and four runs scored in a 14-13 loss to in-state rival Arizona … Sacramento State's Matt Smith continued his hot streak, earning a hit in each of the Hornets' three games at Seattle U … Seattle U's Austin Lively hit .700 on the week, going 7-for-10 at home against Sacramento State … UT Rio Grande Valley's Christian Sepulveda helped lead UTRGV to a road sweep at Grand Canyon, hitting 5-for-14 with four RBIs against the Lopes … Utah Valley's Trevor Howell hit an even .600 on the week as the Wolverines earned their lone win of the week on Friday night against Chicago State.
UTRGV'S JACKSON NAMED WAC PITCHER OF THE WEEK
UT Rio Grande Valley's Ryan Jackson has been named Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week for April 8 through April 14. Jackson, a senior right-hander from McAllen, Texas (Nikki Rowe HS), played a pivotal role in the Vaqueros' three-game road sweep of Grand Canyon, making appearances in all three wins. On Friday night, he struck out four without allowing a hit over two innings for his sixth save of the season. He picked up his seventh save on Saturday, striking out one in his only inning of work in an 8-5 win. On Sunday, he allowed his first two hits of the weekend, allowing one run but still recording a strikeout to earn the win in a 9-7 UTRGV victory. He is now the only pitcher in program history with multiple seasons of seven-plus saves and his 14 career saves rank him second in UTRGV history.
Other Pitcher of the Week nominees: California Baptist's Andrew Bash struck out eight Washington hitters in a no-decision on Monday before returning to the hill and striking out eight CSU Bakersfield hitters to earn the win on Sunday afternoon … Chicago State's Dylan Cumming allowed just one hit over 4.2 innings to earn the win at Utah Valley on Sunday … Grand Canyon's Pierson Ohl went 7.1 innings with three strikeouts in a 3-2 loss to UTRGV on Friday … NM State's Justin Dehn threw 7.2 shutout innings to earn the win on Saturday against Northern Colorado … Sacramento State's Parker Brahms threw eight innings of two-run ball to pick up his third win of the season at Seattle U … Seattle U's Josh Thompson struck out 10 in four innings in a no-decision against Sacramento State … Utah Valley's Jake Carr struck out 11 to earn the win on Friday's 16-6 victory over Chicago State.
Despite WAC play beginning on Thursday this week, there is plenty of non-conference action on tap.On Tuesday, Grand Canyon heads to UNLV, Chicago State visits Eastern Illinois, Northern Colorado heads down to Air Force, NM State treks to New Mexico, Utah Valley takes on Utah in Salt Lake City, California Baptist hosts San Diego, CSU Bakersfield goes to Fresno State and Seattle U plays at 12th-ranked Arizona State. Sacramento State will use Tuesday as a travel day before taking on Illinois State on Wednesday.
In WAC play, Sacramento State remains in the Land of Lincoln to take on Chicago State. NM State travels to Orem to take on Utah Valley. Northern Colorado and CSU Bakersfield will both look to get back on the winning track when they meet up in California. Seattle U stays in Arizona to take on Grand Canyon and California Baptist makes their first trip to the valley to take on UT Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg.
NM State continues to lead the WAC both at the plate (.366 batting average) and in the field (.977 fielding percentage). Sacramento State has the low staff ERA at 3.30. Individually, NM State sophomore Nick Gonzales is the top player at the plate, boasting a .457 batting average and is tied with fellow Aggie Logan Bottrell for the top spot in runs scored. Teammate Joseph Ortiz is the leader in hits (66), RBIs (63), doubles (18), triples (6) and total bases (117). NM State's Tristan Peterson and Tristen Carranza share the home run lead with 14 each. On the mound, California Baptist's Andrew Bash has the low ERA at 1.61 while CSUB's Darius Vines and Edgar Barclay are tied for the strikeout lead with 70 each.
In WAC-only play, NM State leads the league in batting average (.347). UT Rio Grande Valley has the low ERA (2.69) while Grand Canyon is the leader on defense (.975 fielding percentage). NM State's Ortiz boasts the top batting average (.483) while CBU's Bash has the top ERA (1.14).
COMPLETE THE CYCLE
NM State's Joseph Ortiz hit for the cycle on April 14 against Northern Colorado. After picking up an RBI single in his first at-bat in the bottom of the first, he came up again later in the inning and hit a grand slam to help give the Aggies a 9-1 lead after one inning. He again came to the plate in the bottom of the third, this time delivering an RBI double doewn the right field line. He completed the cycle in the bottom of the eighth, flying around the base paths for his sixth triple of the season.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.