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This Week in WAC Baseball - May 13

This Week in WAC Baseball - May 13

Complete Release (PDF)

 
UTAH VALLEY'S HOWELL NAMED WAC HITTER OF THE WEEK
Utah Valley's Trevor Howell has been named WAC Hitter of the Week for May 6 through May 12. Howell, a senior infielder from San Diego, Calif. (Christian HS), stepped up for the Wolverines in their final home WAC series of the season. Against Sacramento State, he was 7-for-14 from the plate with a 1.071 slugging percentage as UVU won the series against the Hornets. He opened the series with a 2-for-4 performance from the plate with a pair of doubles. His best game came in the finale, going 4-for-5 with a pair of solo home runs and two more runs scored in a 14-4 win.
 
Other Hitter of the Week nominees: California Baptist's Andrew Bash was 4-for-4 with three runs scored in the Lancers' 13-2 win over Chicago State on Friday … CSU Bakersfield's Tyler Jorgensen hit .462 to help the 'Runners earn a series win over UTRGV to keep tournament hopes alive … Grand Canyon's Quin Cotton hit. 529 on the week, including 4-for-4 in the Lopes' 13-2 win over Northern Colorado on Sunday … NM State's Joseph Ortiz had eight RBIs and scored eight times in the Aggies' series sweep at Seattle U … Sacramento State's Matt Smith hit .400 as the Hornets went 2-2 on the week … UT Rio Grande Valley's Anthony Gomez was 2-for-5 with three RBIs in the Vaqueros' 8-7 comeback win over CSU Bakersfield on Sunday.
 
CSU BAKERSFIELD'S BARCLAY NAMED WAC PITCHER OF THE WEEK
CSU Bakersfield's Edgar Barclay has been named Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week for May 6 through May 12. Barclay, a junior left-hander from Hilo, Hawai'i (St. Joseph HS), had a career-high 12 strikeouts while allowing just two hits over seven scoreless innings to earn the win on Friday night against UT Rio Grande Valley. The performance was his sixth start of the season with at least 10 strikeouts as he became just the second pitcher in program history with over 100 strikeouts in a single season. He leads the league with 104 strikeouts this season and his 3.14 earned-run average ranks sixth in the WAC. He also leads the league in strikeouts in WAC play with 65 in 50 innings pitched against league foes.
 
Other Pitcher of the Week nominees: California Baptist's Andrew Bash earned the win on Sunday against Chicago State, allowing one unearned run on three hits with seven strikeouts over 6.1 innings pitched … Grand Canyon's Pierson Ohl allowed just one run while scattering six hits over six innings to earnt he win on Friday against Northern Colorado … NM State's Chance Hroch struck out seven and allowed three unearned runs on three hits to earn the win in a 16-3 victory over Seattle U … UT Rio Grande Valley's Ryan Jackson pitched a season-high 4.2 innings of relief to help UTRGV get an 8-7 win over CSU Bakersfield … Utah Valley's Jake Carr earned the win on Friday against Sacramento State, striking out five and allowing just four hits over five innings pitched.
 
ON DECK
It's the last week of regular season play as the race to Mesa comes to a close on Saturday. Before WAC play can settle the six teams who will play at Hohokam Stadium, there are a handful of non-conference games to be played. CSU Bakersfield hosts Loyola Marymount in a Monday afternoon tilt while NM State plays at Washington on Monday night. On Tuesday, UT Rio Grande Valley hosts Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Utah Valley hosts Washington State, California Baptist travels to San Diego, Grand Canyon visits UC Riverside and Sacramento State hosts Saint Mary's.
 
In WAC play, two of the top three teams in the standings will meet in Las Cruces as NM State hosts California Baptist with the chance for one of those teams to earn the regular season title. Grand Canyon and Sacramento State also have a chance to move atop the standings as the Lopes will visit the Hornets, beginning on Thursday. UT Rio Grande Valley also has a chance to finish at the top as UTRGV plays host to Utah Valley in Edinburg. CSU Bakersfield makes the trip to Chicago State and Seattle U visits Northern Colorado as three teams compete for the final two spots in the WAC tournament.
 
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING
NM State continues to lead the WAC at the plate (.366 batting average). California Baptist has the low staff ERA at 3.59 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 .439 batting average and also leads the league with 77 runs scored. Teammate Joseph Ortiz is the leader in hits (94), doubles (23), triples (9), RBIs (80) and total bases (159). Fellow Aggie Tristen Carranza has the home run lead with 18. On the mound, California Baptist's Andrew Bash has the low ERA at 1.74 while CSUB's Edgar Barclay holds the strikeout lead with 104 through 80.1 innings pitched.
 
In WAC-only play, NM State leads the league in batting average (.355). Grand Canyon has the low ERA (3.27) and is the leader on defense (.980 fielding percentage). Sacramento State's Matt Smith boasts the top batting average (.449) while CBU's Bash has the top ERA (1.58).
 
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.
 
SHINING IN THE GOLDEN STATE
Sacramento State's 4-3 win Tuesday night over Nevada was the 30th of the season for the Hornets, giving the team its eighth consecutive season with 30 or more wins. The streak is the program's longest since nine straight such seasons from 1985 - 1993. Sacramento State entered the 2019 campaign as one of just two Div. I programs in California with 30+ wins in each of the last seven seasons. The other - Cal State Fullerton - is unlikely to reach the 30-win milestone this year. 
 
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.
 
SMART GUYS
A pair of WAC baseball players picked up academic honors on Friday as Seattle U's Jacob Prater and California Baptist's Ryan Mota were named Google Cloud Academic All-District by the College Sports Information Directors of America. Prater, a senior infielder, earns honors after posting a 3.79 grade point average as an environmental studies and ecological studies major. Mota, a senior designated hitter, holds a 3.41 GPA as a sociology major at CBU. 
 
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.