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This Week in WAC Baseball - April 29

This Week in WAC Baseball - April 29

Complete Release (PDF)

 
UTRGV'S TORRES NAMED WAC HITTER OF THE WEEK
UT Rio Grande Valley's Tyler Torres has been named WAC Hitter of the Week for April 22 through April 28. Torres, a junior infielder from Harker Heights, Texas (Harker Heights HS), recorded hits in all four games this week and helped lead the Vaqueros to sweep over Seattle U that vaulted UTRGV into first place in the WAC standings. In UTRGV's lone non-conference game, he was 3-for-4 with a home run and a pair of RBIs. Against the Redhawks, he was 5-for-10 from the plate, scoring four runs and driving in five RBIs in the sweep.
 
Other Hitter of the Week nominees: California Baptist's John Glenn hit .467 on the week as the Lancers took 2-of-3 at Northern Colorado … CSU Bakersfield's Damian Henderson hit a walk-off three-run home run on Saturday to beat Utah Valley, 9-6 … Grand Canyon's Jonny Weaver had multiple hits in all four games as the Lopes beat Arizona before earning a sweep at Chicago State … NM State's Kevin Jimenez was 3-for-5 with three runs scored in a 12-4 win at Sacramento State on Saturday … Sacramento State's Keith Torres led the Hornets at the plate, going 7-for-16 in a non-conference game at California and a three-game WAC set against NM State … Utah Valley's Drew Sims hit .583 as the Wolverines went 2-2 on the week.
 
GRAND CANYON'S MECHALS NAMED WAC PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Grand Canyon's Kade Mechals has been named Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week for April 22 through April 28. Mechals, a junior right-hander from McMinnville, Ore. (McMinnville HS), earned his conference-best ninth win of the season on Sunday at Chicago State, allowing just one hit over seven innings with six strikeouts in a 7-0 victory at Chicago State. He retired the first 14 batters he faced en route to the win. On the season, he leads the WAC in opposing batting average with opponents hitting just .180 against him. His 2.22 ERA is second in the WAC and his 68 strikeouts in 69.0 innings pitched both rank fourth.
 
Other Pitcher of the Week nominees: California Baptist's Logan Rinehart struck out 13 over 6.2 innings in a win at Northern Colorado on Friday … CSU Bakersfield's Noah Cordova earned the win on Sunday against Utah Valley, striking out six over 4.2 innings of relief … NM State's Chance Hroch struck out eight and allowed one unearned run over six inning to earn the win at Sacramento State on Sunday … Northern Colorado's Isaac Bracken tossed a complete game three-hitter against Cal Baptist, allowing just one run with six strikeouts ... Sacramento State's Scott Randall threw six innings but took the no-decision in a 4-3 win over NM State on Friday … UT Rio Grande Valley's Trevelle Hill earned the victory on Friday against Seattle U, going seven innings in a 7-3 win … Utah Valley's Jake Carr earned the complete game victory on Friday night in a 5-3 win at CSU Bakersfield.
 
ON DECK
In non-conference play, Nine of ten schools will be in action on Tuesday, beginning with Chicago State hosting Valparaiso. Sacramento State travels to San Francisco while CSU Bakersfield heads to the coast to take on 13th-ranked UC Santa Barbara. California Baptist plays host to Hawai'i while Seattle U heads to Montlake to take on Washington. NM State makes the trip to Arizona, Grand Canyon opens a two-game set at New Mexico and UTRGV plays the first of two at 12th-ranked Texas Tech. On Wednesday, GCU finishes up the brief series at UNM, UTRGV finishes up with Texas Tech and Chicago State hosts Bradley.
 
In WAC play, the spotlight series takes place in Las Cruces with UT Rio Grande Valley taking on NM State. Sacramento State makes the trip to Northern Colroado, Chicago State visits Seattle U, Utah Valley plays at California Baptist and CSU Bakersfield battles Grand Canyon in Phoenix.
 
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING
NM State continues to lead the WAC at the plate (.356 batting average). Sacramento State has the low staff ERA at 3.53 and Grand Canyon is the top defensive team with a .977 fielding percentage. Individually, NM State sophomore Nick Gonzales is the top player at the plate, boasting a .428 batting average and leads the league with 63 runs scored. Teammate Joseph Ortiz is the leader in hits (76), RBIs (67), doubles (21), triples (7) and total bases (132). NM State's Tristen Carranza and Tristan Peterson has the home run lead with 16 each. On the mound, California Baptist's Andrew Bash has the low ERA at 2.10 while CSUB's Edgar Barclay holds the strikeout lead with 90 through 70.1 innings pitched.
 
In WAC-only play, NM State leads the league in batting average (.334). UT Rio Grande Valley has the low ERA (3.21) while Grand Canyon is the leader on defense (.980 fielding percentage). CSU Bakersfield's Jesse Rowely boasts the top batting average (.476) while CBU's Bash has the top ERA (2.16).
 
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.
 
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.