Posted: Mar 25, 2019
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NM STATE'S PETERSON NAMED WAC HITTER OF THE WEEK
NM State's Tristan Peterson has been named WAC Hitter of the Week for March 18 through March 24. Peterson, a junior infielder from Tucson, Ariz. (Canyon del Oro HS/Howard JC), was the top hitter in the WAC during the opening weekend of conference play in a series win against CSU Bakersfield and chipped in a solid non-conference game at Arizona as well. On the week, he was 12-of-19 from the plate with 13 RBIs, five home runs and seven runs scored. All five home runs and 10 of those RBIs 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.
Other Hitter of the Week nominees: California Baptist's Luke Navigato hit. 421 on the week as the Lancers went into Phoenix and lost a slugfest with Arizona State before winning their WAC-opening series at Grand Canyon … CSU Bakersfield's Jake Ortega hit .571, going 8-for-14 in a series loss at NM State … Chicago State's Gabriel Coburn hit .421 on the week and helped lead the Cougars to wins over Northern Illinois and Northern Colorado … Grand Canyon's Preston Pavlica was 2-for-3 in an 11-2 win over Utah on Monday … Sacramento State's Dawsen Bahco earned a hit in all four games on the week and was 5-for-13 in a series win over UT Rio Grande Valley … UT Rio Grande Valley's Anthony Gomez hit his third home run of the season in a 6-2 win at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Tuesday … Utah Valley's Drew Sims led the Wolverines offensively, hitting .462 on the week as UVU took a road series at Seattle U.
UVU'S SCHULTZ NAMED WAC PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Utah Valley's Paxton Schultz has been named Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week for March 18 through March 24. Schultz, a junior right-hander from Orem, Utah (Orem HS), delivered one of the top starts of the week, going eight shutout innings to earn the win in a 4-2 victory over Seattle U on Saturday. He helped the Wolverines earn their first WAC win of the season by striking out seven and scattering six hits without allowing a run. On th season, he holds a 3.51 ERA with 40 strikeouts through 41.0 innings pitched.
Other Pitcher of the Week nominees: California Baptist's Logan Rinehart threw five no-hit innings and earned the win in an 8-0 victory at Grand Canyon on Saturday … Chicago State's Anthony Leedle picked up a pair of wins on the week, striking out four over five innings in a 10-8 win over Northern Illinois and allowing just one hit in 5.1 innings against Northern Colorado … Grand Canyon's Kade Mechals struck out six and allowed three hits over six innings in a 3-0 win over California Baptist on Friday night … NM State's Justin Dehn earned the win in a 23-1 win over CSU Bakersfield, allowing three hits and one unearned run while going the distance in the run-rule contest … Sacramento State's Tanner Dalton saw action in three games this week, striking out four without allowing a hit over four innings pitched … UT Rio Grande Valley's Juan Carreon II earned his first career win at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, striking out two over 2.2 innings in a 6-2 victory.
If the first weekend of WAC play is any indication, it's going to be an exciting season as all five series were 2-1 splits. In non-conference play, Chicago State visits Notre Dame before hosting Northwestern. UT Rio Grande Valley takes on power TCU, California Baptist travels to San Diego State, NM State hosts in-state rival New Mexico and Seattle U travels to Portland. In big home games, Sacramento State hosts California and Utah Valley hosts Oregon while Fresno State makes the trip to Bakersfield. In WAC play, Sacramento State and California Baptist both earned series wins last week and will face off this weekend in Southern California. NM State takes the trip to the Windy City for a three-game set at Chicago State while Northern Colorado also hits the road, heading to the valley to take on UT Rio Grande Valley in Edinburgh. Seattle U heads to CSU Bakersfield with both squads looking for their first series win of the season while Grand Canyon looks to rebound with a trip to Utah Valley.
NM State continues to lead the WAC both at the plate (.389 batting average) and in the field (.979 fielding percentage). Sacramento State has the low staff ERA at 3.06. Individually, NM State sophomore Nick Gonzales is the top player at the plate, boasting a .505 batting average and also leads the WAC in hits (51), runs scored (40), RBIs (48) and total bases (95). Teammate Tristen Carranza has the lead in home runs (12) and is tied with fellow Aggie Joseph Ortiz for the lead in triples (4). On the mound, GCU's Kade Mechals has the low ERA at 1.49 while CSUB's Darius Vines is the strikeout leader with 52 through 37.2 innings pitched.
In WAC-only play, NM State leads the league in batting averag (.417). California Baptist has the low ERA (0.69) while Grand Canyon is the leader on defense (.992 fielding percentage). NM State's Tristan Peterson has the top batting average (.643) while a number of pitchers went the first weekend without allowing an earned run.
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.
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.
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.