View Full Version : Gonzaga Baseball: Zags Ready to Begin 2016 Season on Friday

02-18-2016, 08:12 PM
Seasoned Zags Ready to Begin 2016

New season starts Friday at Grand Canyon

Feb. 18, 2016

Gonzaga Notes (http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/gonz/sports/m-basebl/auto_pdf/2015-16/release/release_20160218aaa.pdf)...


FRIDAY, FEB. 19: RHP Brandon Bailey (0-0, -.-- ERA) vs. RHP Jorge Perez (0-0, -.-- ERA)
SAT., FEB. 20 (1): LHP Calvin LeBrun (0-0, -.-- ERA) vs. LHP Ethan Evanko (0-0, -.-- ERA)
SAT., FEB. 20 (2): RHP Justin Vernia (0-0. -.-- ERA) vs. LHP Jake Repavich (0-0, -.-- ERA)
SUNDAY, FEB. 21: RHP Eli Morgan (0-0, -.-- ERA) vs. RHP Tyler Wyatt (0-0, -.-- ERA)

GoZags Link to Live Stats, Live Video and Live Audio (http://www.gozags.com/sports/m-basebl/spec-rel/021816aaa.html)

SPOKANE, Wash.--With spring coming up quickly, the Gonzaga baseball team is putting together final preparations for the 2016 season. The Zags return seven position players, one full-time starting pitcher, and plenty more hurlers with experience on the mound; there are veterans all over the field. Here's a closer look at each position group for the Bulldog nine:


Four of the five starting infielders and catchers from last season return, including WCC Defensive Player of the Year Joey Harris behind the plate and All-WCC First Teamer Taylor Jones at first. Harris had a standout season defensively, ranking among the top five in the nation in runners caught stealing and caught stealing percentage. Jones, meanwhile, broke into the starting lineup a few weeks into the season and continued to crush the ball, finishing with a team-high .358 average and slugging .545. Jones earned a spot on the preseason All-WCC team due to his status as a premier first baseman on the West Coast.

"Harris is one of the best defensive catchers in the country and will catch the majority of the games, getting backed up by Jimmy Sinatro and Jake Roberts," said Gonzaga head coach Mark Machtolf of the catching position. "Jones is coming off a huge year, got drafted last summer and decided to come back for his senior year. He'll hit in the middle of the order and is also a plus defender."

Also a returning senior, Dustin Breshears will once again serve as shortstop after starting all 52 games last season in the hole. He hit .260 during his first year with the club and ended with a hot bat, hitting .375 during the final 10 games of the season. Last year, Breshears also showed off a bit of range at short, posting a fielding percentage of .962. Also along the left side of the diamond, Jeff Bohling will man the hot corner after playing second base in 2015. He made 36 starts during his redshirt sophomore season.

"At short, Breshears is back and is another plus defender; he's also improved offensively, can run, and can do some things. We're really excited about him. At third, Bohling will move in after winning the position. He plays hard, is a good runner and a tough kid. He had an outstanding fall."

For the opening at second base, Mactholf expects a three-way battle between Roberts, Justin Jacobs, and Jace VanDeBrake. Roberts transferred in from Yakima Valley Community College, where he was second on the team with a .342 batting average and 24 RBIs as a sophomore. Jacobs made 44 starts in right field last year for Gonzaga but actually began the year at second, starting eight games in the infield. Jacobs was the Zags' RBI leader with 36; he hit .295 last year and posted a fielding percentage of .988. VanDeBrake, meanwhile, redshirted his first year at Gonzaga but had a strong summer where he hit .275 with 52 hits and 34 runs scored with the Yakima Valley Pippens of the West Coast League.


Two of three outfielders will resume their starting spots as well with Tyler Frost shifting to left field and Sam Brown sliding to right, making way for Branson Trube in center. Frost made 42 starts between left and center field last year, hitting .268 with 14 extra-base hits as a freshman. He also led the squad with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage while shifting between the outfield and the mound. Brown, meanwhile, looks to assume leadoff duties after hitting at a .317 clip and getting on base at a .409 one. He was second on the team with 32 runs scored and added 27 RBIs.

Trube will break into the starting lineup after making 28 appearances as a freshman, most of them as a defensive replacement. He picked up three hits, walks, and RBIs during limited at bats while adding nine runs scored.

"I feel good about our defensive outfield," Machtolf said. "All three of those guys can run and they have really good instincts. Our outfield is as solid a defensive group that we've had during my time here."

Starting Rotation

Two of the three starting spots are set with Brandon Bailey reprising his role as staff ace and Eli Morgan taking over as the Sunday starter. Bailey posted an 8-3 record as a sophomore, leading the squad with 96.2 innings pitched and 91 strikeouts. Last week, the WCC coaches voted Bailey onto the Preseason All-Conference team. Morgan, meanwhile, posted a 2.36 ERA in 14 appearances, making three starts at the end of the season. After ending the year on a strong note, he dominated the Alaska Baseball League, posting a miniscule 0.86 ERA and 47/12 strikeout/walk ratio with the Matsu Miners, earning Summer All-America honors from Perfect Game.

Saturday's starting spot is still up for grabs with Frost, Calvin LeBrun, Justin Vernia, and Gage Burland all competing for the nod. While not manning the outfield, Frost made six starts and nine appearances on the mound for the Bulldogs in 2015, throwing 36.2 innings and fanning 18 batters. LeBrun was also a frequent starter, taking control of seven games and winning two of them. He fanned 24 in 47.0 innings of work. Burland, meanwhile, pitched mainly out of the bullpen, making 11 appearances but earning a start at Tulane. He struck out 17 batters in 13.1 innings. Vernia, meanwhile, looks to break into the rotation in his first year at Gonzaga. The junior transfer dominated for two seasons at Tacoma Community College, posting a 22-0 record and 1.46 ERA with 141 strikeouts in 2014 and 2015 combined.


Two hurlers have stepped up and earned the right to close out games as Wyatt Mills and Daniel Bies figure to handle ninth-inning duties for the Zags. Mills, a junior submarine pitcher, is one of the Zags' most experienced relievers coming back. He pitched in 19.1 innings last year, posting a 2.79 ERA and striking out 10. Bies, meanwhile, will return from redshirting his true freshman season. During summer ball, he posted a 1.37 ERA with the Bend Elks of the WCL, making four saves and striking out 26 in 19.2 innings of work.

Behind Mills and Bies sits a bullpen filled with young talent. Eli Thornquist, Trent Schulte, and Justin Blatner will all serve as left-handed specialists out of the pen. All three are in their first year of pitching for Gonzaga as Thornquist transferred in from Lamar Community College over the summer, Blatner redshirted his true freshman season in 2015, and Schulte began college last fall. Hunter Wells and Sam Hellinger will handle matchup duties as right handers. Wells tossed 36.1 innings last season, making 13 appearances and five starts while Hellinger transferred in from San Mateo Community College.

"Thornquist, Schulte, Blatner, all those guys are first-year players so their roles are to be determined, but they're definitely matchup guys and can move into something bigger as the year goes on," said Machtolf. "Hellinger is a quality right-hander out of the pen with a good changeup, and Wells was with us last year and pitched some very significant innings. We're looking for him to continue to improve."


The Zags will face a tough schedule - with games against seven teams against last year's NCAA participants - and it gets tougher with the fact that Gonzaga will play just 10 home games in Spokane. They'll be on the road for 39 games with 35 of those being true road games; only the four games at the Irish Alamo Classic will be neutral site affairs. Furthermore, Gonzaga will make trips to TCU and Arkansas around spring break, giving the Zags five away games against teams in last year's College World Series.

"This schedule is going to give our players a chance to play on a national stage and get us prepared to play a rigorous WCC schedule," said Machtolf. "And some of our road trips, especially playing at TCU and Arkansas, will give our guys a taste of what a regional setting will be like at the end of the year."


The Zags figure to have a solid defensive squad and veteran players at key spots all over the field. The defense can allow a younger pitching staff some time to develop and find their own on the mound while solid returning hitters can give the club a chance in every game.

"If we stay healthy, we have some really good defenders in the lineup," Mactholf said. "We have Jones, a 6-7 right-hander who gives you a great target at first base. Not only that, but he's very athletic for his size. With him and Breshears, who was very solid last year, and we mentioned Joey - a great defensive catcher like Joey is really important - and Bohling's gotten much better at third base. Not to mention one of the best defensive outfields we've seen. Any time you can build a defensive club like this, it really helps out your pitching staff and save some runs."

Gonzaga begins the 2016 season Friday, Feb. 19 at Grand Canyon. The Zags and Antelopes will play four games over three days in Phoenix, with first pitch for the season opener at 6:00 p.m.

Gonzaga Article Link


02-19-2016, 01:55 PM
Thanks Terp. Look forward to a bounce back year.

02-20-2016, 06:13 AM
Five-run Inning Downs Gonzaga in Season Opener (http://www.gozags.com/sports/m-basebl/recaps/021916aaa.html)

Next Up: Gonzaga (0-1) and Grand Canyon will play two on the second day on the 2016 season, beginning a doubleheader at 11:00 a.m. Pacific, again at Brazell Stadium. LHP Calvin LeBrun will take the mound in the morning for Gonzaga while the `Lopes counter with lefty Ethan Evanko. Junior college transfer and RHP Justin Vernia will make his Division I debut in the afternoon for the Zags, going against GCU's southpaw Jake Repavich.

02-20-2016, 08:55 PM
Today's Gonzaga games:

Split at Grand CanyonZags (http://www.gozags.com/sports/m-basebl/recaps/022016aac.html)

SPOKANE, Wash.--The Gonzaga University baseball squad had a Jekyll-and-Hyde doubleheader at Grand Canyon Saturday, posting the program's best offensive production in six years during game one but getting shutout in game two at Brazell Stadium in Phoenix, Ariz.

Game One: Gonzaga 21, Grand Canyon 9

Game Two: Grand Canyon 3, Gonzaga 0

Next Up:

Gonzaga (1-2) wraps up opening weekend with another game in Phoenix against the Antelopes. First pitch for the fourth game between the two clubs is slated for 11:00 a.m. Pacific, again at Brazell Stadium. RHP Eli Morgan takes the mound for the Bulldogs while Tyler Wyatt gets the nod for Grand Canyon.

02-21-2016, 08:22 PM
Sunday's Gonzaga game:

Solid All-Around Play Leads GU over Grand Canyon (http://www.gozags.com/sports/m-basebl/recaps/022116aaa.html)

Zags win 11-2; split Opening Weekend series...

Next Up:

Gonzaga (2-2) will continue its long season-opening road swing with four games at the Irish Alamo Classic in San Antonio, Texas. They begin the tournament on Feb. 26 with two games: Texas Southern at 1:30 p.m. Pacific and Incarnate Word four hours later. The Zags’ll also face Bradley and Notre Dame later in the weekend.

Section 116
02-26-2016, 08:34 PM
I know we live in the northern part of the country, but 10 home games out of a 49 game schedule....

02-29-2016, 06:50 PM
Can the posted schedule at GoZags be correct? It shows the Zags having only 3 WCC teams playing a series in Spokane.