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This Week in WAC Baseball - May 6

This Week in WAC Baseball - May 6

Complete Release (PDF)

 
NM STATE'S GONZALES NAMED WAC HITTER OF THE WEEK
NM State's Nick Gonzales has been named WAC Hitter of the Week for April 29 through May 5. Gonzales, a sophomore infielder from Vail, Ariz. (Cienega HS), was nearly unstoppable from the plate, going 11-for-16 with nine extra-base hits to help the Aggies go 3-1 on the week and move into a tie for first place in the league standings. In NM State's lone non-conference game, he was 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles, a pair of RBIs and three runs scored in a 15-13 win over Arizona. He opened up WAC play against UT Rio Grande Valley by going 5-for-6 from the plate and hitting for the cycle with four runs scored, also adding an extra double for good measure. He was 4-for-7 the remainder of the series to finish with a .688 batting average on the week to go with a 1.563 slugging percentage.
 
Other Hitter of the Week nominees: California Baptist's Luke Navigato had a pair of home runs in the Lancers' WAC sweep over visiting Utah Valley … Grand Canyon's Cuba Bess was 5-for-11 against CSU Bakersfield to lead the Lopes to a WAC series sweep … Northern Colorado's Jack Pauley had a pair of home runs and added a triple in the WAC series with Sacramento State … Sacramento State's Dawsen Bacho led the Hornets' offense, driving in 11 RBIs in a series win at Northern Colorado … Seattle U's Julian Kodama hit safely in all four games for the Redhawks, including a walk-off single on Saturday against Chicago State … UT Rio Grande Valley's Tyler Torres was 3-for-4 with five RBIs in the Vaqueros' 21-11 win over NM State on Saturday.
 
CBU'S BASH NAMED WAC PITCHER OF THE WEEK
California Baptist's Andrew Bash has been named Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week for April 29 through May 5. Bash, a junior right-hander from Palm Desert, Calif. (Palm Desert HS), was dominant on the mound in the Lancers' 10-0 win over Utah Valley on Sunday. He allowed just two hits over six scoreless innings to earn the win, striking out 10 and walking just one. He also drew three walks from the plate, scoring a run to help his own cause. The WAC's leader in earned run average at 1.91, he is also second in opposing batting average (.207) and his 10 home runs from the plate rank him sixth in the league.
 
Other Pitcher of the Week nominees: Grand Canyon's Frankie Scalzo had a pair of relief outings, posting a win over New Mexico and earning a save over CSU Bakersfield … NM State's Chance Hroch had another huge outing for the Aggies, pitching seven scoreless innings to earn his second complete-game shutout of the season in a 10-0 win over UT Rio Grande Valley … Sacramento State's Brady Rodriguez pitched in 3-of-4 games for the Hornets this week, earning the win on Sunday at Northern Colorado … UT Rio Grande Valley's Ryan Jackson earned his 15th career save on Tuesday in a 6-3 win over 12th-ranked Texas Tech … Utah Valley's Paxton Schultz stuck out 10 over seven innings but took the loss in a 2-0 battle at California Baptist.
 
ON DECK
With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, the non-conference schedule is light with just six games, all on Tuesday. In WAC home games, Chicago State plays host to Eastern Illinois, Northern Colorado welcomes Air Forse and Sacramento State hosts Nevada. In road contests, California Baptist makes the trip to CSUN, CSU Bakersfield travels to Fresno State and Grand Canyon heads to Cal State Fullerton.
 
The WAC schedule gives several teams the opportunity to clear some logjams in the conference standings. NM State travels to Seattle U, Sacramento State travels to Utah Valley and UT Rio Grande Valley travels to CSU Bakersfield as the Aggies, Hornets and Vaqueros are all tied atop the standings. Grand Canyon and California Baptist sit just one game back of that trio with GCU hosting Northern Colorado and CBU hosting Chicago State.
 
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING
NM State continues to lead the WAC at the plate (.361 batting average). California Baptist has the low staff ERA at 3.72 and Grand Canyon is the top defensive team with a .978 fielding percentage. Individually, NM State sophomore Nick Gonzales is the top player at the plate, boasting a .451 batting average and leads the league with 73 runs scored and 152 total bases. Teammate Joseph Ortiz is the leader in hits (86), doubles (21), triples (8) and is tied with teammate Tristan Peterson for the lead in RBIs (72). Fellow Aggie Tristen Carranza has the home run lead with 18. On the mound, California Baptist's Andrew Bash has the low ERA at 1.91 while CSUB's Edgar Barclay holds the strikeout lead with 92 through 73.1 innings pitched.
 
In WAC-only play, NM State leads the league in batting average (.343). Grand Canyon has the low ERA (3.51) and is the leader on defense (.981 fielding percentage). CSU Bakersfield's Jesse Rowley boasts the top batting average (.467) while CBU's Bash has the top ERA (1.83).
 
COMPLETE THE CYCLE
After teammate Joseph Ortiz hit for the cycle on April 14 against Northern Colorado, NM State's Nick Gonzales accomplished the feat as well on May 3 against UT Rio Grande Valley. After flying out in his first at-bat, he would reach base the next five times, beginning with a lead-off double in the fourth. He added a triple in the fifth and then hit a two-run home run in the sixth. He completed the cycle in the seventh and then added a double in the eighth as the Aggies won, 17-8.
 
TICKET PUNCHED
Four of the six spots in the upcoming WAC Baseball Tournament have been secured as NM State, UT Rio Grande Valley, Sacramento State and Grand Canyon have all clinched a trip to Hohokam Stadium. All four teams, as well as California Baptist, are in the running for the regular season title with two weeks left, although CBU is no eligible for the tournament due to the transition to Division I. The remaining five teams are still the running for the final two spots, with just two games seperating the quintet.
 
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.