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This Week in WAC Baseball - May 28

This Week in WAC Baseball - May 28

Complete Release (PDF Format)

 
HORNETS HEADED TO STANFORD FOR NCAA REGIONAL
After winning six-straight elimination games to win the 2019 WAC Baseball Tournament, Sacramento State found out on Monday where it is headed for the NCAA Tournament and the Hornets will make the drive to Stanford to take on the 11th-seeded Cardinal in a four-team regional beginning on Friday at 1 p.m. PT.
 
After falling to Utah Valley on Wednesday night, the Hornets (39-23) rattled off six-straight wins to eliminate every other team in the WAC Tournament and earn their third title in six seasons. Sacramento State is led offensively by the duo of outfielder Matt Smith, who is hitting .318 with 42 runs scored, and catcher Dawsen Bacho, who is hitting .277 with 13 doubles and 53 RBIs. Scott Randall is 8-1 on the hill for the Hornets, boasting a 2.50 earned-run average in 14 starts.
 
Stanford (41-11) is led offensively by Duke Kinamon, who is hitting .327 with 11 doubles. the duo of Brandon Wulff and Andrew Daschbach have 17 and 16 home runs respectively. On the hill, Erik Miller has 85 strikeouts to lead a talented Cardinal pitching staff.
 
Joining Stanford and Sacramento State on The Farm will be Fresno State and UC Santa Barbara in an all-California regional. Fresno State (38-14-1) won the Mountain West tournament over UNLV. UC Santa Barbara (45-9) won the Big West by two games to earn a trip to the national tournament.
 
The winner of the Stanford regional will take on the winner of the Mississippi State Regional.
 
SIX-PACK LEADS SACRAMENTO STATE TO TOURNAMENT TITLE
After falling to Utah Valley on the first day of the 2019 WAC Baseball Tournament, the Sacramento State Hornets rattled off six-straight elimination game wins to bring home their third tournament title in the last six seasons. Beginning with CSU Bakersfield, the Hornets were responsible for sending every other team home as they became the first team in WAC history to win six games in a tournament. After defeating UT Rio Grande Valley and Utah Valley on Friday, the Hornets worked overtime on Saturday, knocking out NM State in 10 innings and then forcing an extra game with an 11-inning win over Grand Canyon. In Sunday's winner-take-all, Sacramento State got off to an early lead and then held off a late GCU charge to earn the trophy and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. 
 
Dawsen Bacho was named Tournament MVP and was joined on the All-Tournament team by teammates Travis Martizia, Matt Smith and Ryan Walstad. Grand Canyon picked up four honorees as Austin Bull, Kade Mechals, Kona Quiggle and Pikai Winchester earned recognition. NM State's Braden Williams and Brock Whittlesey and Utah Valley's Ryan Eastburn rounded out the all-tournament squad.
 
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING
NM State finished its season leading the WAC at the plate (.356 batting average). Sacramento State has the low staff ERA at 3.69 and Grand Canyon was the top defensive team with a .977 fielding percentage. Individually, NM State sophomore Nick Gonzales was the top player at the plate, boasting a .432 batting average. Teammate Joseph Ortiz was the leader in hits (106), runs scored (85), doubles (25), triples (10) and total bases (175). Fellow Aggie Tristan Peterson had the home run lead with 20 and RBI lead with 90. On the mound, California Baptist's Andrew Bash held the low ERA at 1.98 while CSUB's Edgar Barclay holds the strikeout lead with 111 through 90.1 innings pitched.
 
In WAC-only play, NM State led the league in batting average (.349). Grand Canyon had the low ERA (3.02) and was the leader on defense (.978 fielding percentage). Sacramento State's Matt Smith boasted the top batting average (.436) while CBU's Bash had the top ERA (1.95).
 
MR. RELIABLE
NM State sophomore Nick Gonzales made it on base in each of the Aggies' 55 games this season and will take a 66-game reached base streak into the 2020 season.
 
ALL-WAC HONORS ANNOUNCED
The Western Athletic Conference has announced its All-WAC baseball teams and major awards as selected by the league's ten head coaches. NM State's Joey Ortiz was named WAC Player of the Year while California Baptist's Logan Rinehart was named WAC Pitcher of the Year. Grand Canyon's Pierson Ohl was named WAC Freshman of the Year and UT Rio Grande Valley's Derek Matlock earned WAC Coach of the Year honors. The complete list of All-WAC honorees can be found on page 5.
 
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.
 
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 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.