2002 Baseball Outlook
March 4, 2002
Game programs should be in big demand when Washington State opens the 2002 baseball season early in February. More than half of the Cougar players are newcomers, 22 of the 36 listed on the roster. Included are 12 transfers and 10 freshmen.
The WSU squad, however, will be built around four returning position players and a pair of returning mound stars from last year, Tim Mooney's first season as the Cougar head coach.
'Last year we had no returning players we knew or who knew us,' offers Mooney, whose initial Cougar club was 15-39 in 2001. 'This year I have 15 assistants. They know how we do things and they help the new players so the coaches don't have to spend as much time just explaining the basics. That has accelerated the learning curve.'
Gates hit .327 last year, drove home 60 runs, and belted eight home runs. The Cougar second baseman, a Pacific-10 Conference honorable mention selection, had 21 multiple-hit games last season and owned a nine-game hitting streak.
Hecker was flawless in center field last year, leading the Pac-10 with a perfect fielding percentage in 134 chances. He also was splendid at the plate, hitting .321. Baeder's late-season hitting included a team-leading 11-game hitting streak, during which he hit .400.
On the mound, Garrett Alwert returns for his junior season after posting a 2-6 record and a team-leading 5.40 ERA while throwing 58.1 innings. Joining him will be Zach Fisher, who threw 68 innings and struck out 53 batters while posting a 6.22 ERA.
Alwert also saw plate action and late in the year took over as the designated hitter. He hit over .300 for the final two weeks of the season and ended the year with a .284 plate average.
Three other pitchers who saw significant action a year ago return, right handers Lanakila Niles, Nick Kenyon and Jamin Svendsen. Also returning will be outfielder Tyson Boston, designated hitter Wes Falkenborg and catcher Brandon Reddinger.
Mooney's expected starting lineup includes three new players in the infield and one outfielder, plus at least five newcomers on the mound.
'We think we are better on the mound than we were last year,' says Mooney. 'We had to bring in some immediate help, players who could pitch tomorrow and had collegiate experience. Also, we needed to bring in pitchers who could help in two years so we will not be right back in the same situation we faced this year.'
'For the immediate help we brought in Eddie Bonine, Brandon Hundt, Billy Gorrell who were successful in junior college,' Mooney says. 'For the future, we brought in players like Bryce Chamberlin, Marshall Hendon, Austin Harvie and Josh Bartlome, pitchers we hope will go through the program and provide the pitching we need the next few years.'
'I don't know if there are very many pitchers in the Pac-10 who you figure will win every time out, but I think Bonine, Alwert and Hundt will give us consistent outings on the mound,' the Cougar coach believes.
The closers are expected to be junior transfer Billy Gorrell and Niles, who made 16 relief appearances last season. Hunt could also find himself in a closer role as well as a starter.
Gates, who just missed a pair of school records, will be called on to provide key leadership in the Cougar infield. Last season his nine assists against both Arizona and Washington was just one short of the Cougar one-game record, while his 192 assists for the year was 12 short of the school mark. The senior will be surrounded with newcomers, including junior Steve Mortimer at first and fellow transfers Jeff LaRue or Bruce Jacobsen at the opposite corner, while freshman Derek Bruce is the favorite to start at short.
Hecker, who was an honorable mention All-Pac-10 pick, will find himself in a similar leadership role in the outfield, where he will be joined by returnee Tyson Boston in center and transfer Jeremy Farrar in right field. The second line outfielders are also newcomers.
Mooney would like to see WSU's hitters maintain the pace they produced at the end of the 2001 season.
'Two factors contributed to our improved hitting as the season went along last year,' he believes. 'First , we didn't see any live pitching outdoors until the season began. Secondly, the players became more comfortable with the plan we had for each at-bat. I hope the returning players will be able to maintain what they achieved last year.'
Another goal for Mooney is to turn close losses from last year into wins this year. WSU played in 22 games determined by one or two runs, including 17 one-run games. The Cougars were 9-25 in games decided by one, two or three runs, including 6-11 in one-run games.
Nearly half of the Cougar's season, 20 games, will have been played before WSU plays its first home game. The Cougs open with a three-game set at California State-Northridge and then take on nearby rival Gonzaga for three games in Pasco, the closest WSU gets to home until hosting California in late March. Mooney's club will play in two tournaments during late February and early March, first the Texas A&M Continental Express Tournament, then the Troy State Wiregrass Classic in Dothan, Alabama.
The Cougar home slate includes three-game Pacific-10 Conference series against California, Arizona State, USC and Oregon State, along with a pair of home games against both Washington and Pace University, one game with Gonzaga and two of three games against Lewis-Clark State.
'We have a tough schedule, which means we play in non-conference the same kind of competition we'll see in the Pac-10. The problem is confidence is developed from having success and we didn't make it easy to do that with our schedule. We start right off with Northridge, a well coached and talented team, nationally ranked, and in a park where it is difficult to play. We have seven teams on our schedule ranked in the pre-season polls.'
'We are very good defensively. Baeder is the starter, but Reddinger is now ready to play. If Jon was hurt, I wouldn't go into panic mode about putting Reddinger in the game. They are Pac-10 catchers. They just need to come on offensively to be complete players.'
'We went for some immediate help in Steve Mortimer, who gives us a left handed bat. He is probably a better defensive player than we had last year in Stefan Bailie. He has some power and just needs to give us a good middle-of-the-order hitter. Behind him we have Grant Richardson, who was the Washington high school player of the year last year. He can hit at this level, but he needs to improve defensively We also have Shawn Evenhus, who someday could be a Bailey. He is a big strong kid.'
'Bookie Gates can play all three infield positions, second, short and third. He seems to be most consistent at second. We just think having him at second is the best fit for this team. The biggest thing for Gates is to maintain plate discipline. He also gives us leadership. Behind him we'll have senior David Eno, who was injured last year.'
'We have a battle at the hot corner between Bruce Jacobsen and Jeff LaRue, both junior college transfers out of California. They are very similar players, both right handed. LaRue is probably ahead offensively and if he gets it done on defense, he has the edge.'
'Derek Bruce, a true freshman, is going to be at short. He has great maturity as a person, which carries over onto the baseball field. He is very steady and not overwhelmed by playing now. He is going to be a very good player. Behind him is Chris Todd, who walked on in the fall. He is second in terms of defensive tools at shortstop. He just needs to get stronger and improve offensively.'
'Evan Hecker is a solid player. He does not make mistakes, doesn't beat himself. He was in center last year, but we are trying him more in left field because we think his arm is more suited for left. In right we think we are very solid with Jeremy Farrar, a transfer from Texas. He is a great competitor and puts a Texas sized swing on the ball, even though he is a little guy. Center will be the key. We will give Tyson Boston a chance in center because he has the tools, the size, speed and arm strength to do the job. We need him to be consistent. Behind him is a real good defensive outfielder, Mike Andrusco. He is very steady. We also have Justin Hart, a left handed bat, who is playing in left right now behind Hecker.'
'Wes Falkenborg has the position wrapped up. He has worked real hard in the weight room and in his rehabilitation, so he's in better shape this year than he was last year. He is a good leader, calm, and a consistent bat.'
'The key to improving was getting more top-end guys who can keep us in the game. I think we have two guys who have done it in Eddie Bonine and Brandon Hundt. They have done it time after time. Garrett Alwert is better this year. He had an illness problem last year and I think he will give us consistent outings this year. We will start with Billy Gorrell as a closer. They key will be his consistency. At times in the fall he was very effective. He needs to bring his 'A' game to the mound every game. He is a two pitch guy and can give us that strong inning.'
'We set a goal to win 65 percent of our non-conference games and 50 percent of our Pac-10 games. I've done some research and that gets a team in a regional. That is our goal, but it will be tough. That is where we need to be to get to the tournament. I think the 65 percent may be the toughest because of our schedule. There is no question Stanford, USC and Arizona State are very good teams, highly ranked teams. What makes this conference so tough is the number eight team is also good. Other conferences don't have the depth of the Pac-10. We can't fall below the 65 percent level and figure you will make it up in the league.'
2002 WSU BASEBALL FACTS
Tim Mooney, University of Idaho 1980
WSU Record: 15-39 (2nd season)
Career Record: 542-276-3 (20 Seasons)
Gary Picone (LCSC '76), Pitchers
Mike Cummins (Santa Clara '79), Outfielders, Catchers
Kris Didion (WSU)
2001 RECORD: 15-39 overall, 6-18 in Pacific-10 (9th place)
2001 POST-SEASON: None
LETTERMEN RETURNING: (13)
RETURNING STARTERS FROM 2001: (6)
2B Bookie Gates, R/R, 6-1, 198, Sr., 3V (G/GS: 53/53, BA: .327, HR: 8, RBI: 60)
LF Evan Hecker, L/L, 5-8, 164, Sr., 3V (G/GS: 50/48, BA: .321, HR: 2, RBI: 28
C Jon Baeder, R/R, 6-0, 193, Jr., 2V (G/GS: 51/45, BA: .266, HR: 0, RBI: 11)
UTIL Brent Robertson, R/R, 5-9, 176, Sr., 1V (G/GS: 46/39, BA: .265, HR: 1, RBI: 19
LHP Garrett Alwert, L/L, 6-0, 204, Jr., 2V (G/GS: 15/8, W-L: 2-6, ERA: 5.40, IP: 58.1, SO: 23, BB: 17)
RHP Zach Fisher, R/R, 5-10, 202, Sr., 3V (G/GS: 17/10, W-L: 0-7, ERA: 6.22, IP: 68.0, SO: 53, BB: 40
OTHER RETURNING LETTERMEN: (6)
OF Tyson Boston, R/R, 6-2, 202, Sr., 1V (G/GS: 41/35, BA: .209, HR: 4, RBI: 25)
C Brandon Reddinger, R/R, 6-0, 203, So., 1V (G/GS: 22/9, BA: .344, HR: 0, RBI: 2)
RHP Lanakila Niles, R/R, 5-9, 194, Sr.*, 3V (G/GS: 16/0, W-L: 0-3, ERA: 6.95, IP: 33.2, SO: 19, BB: 17)
RHP Nick Kenyon, R/R, 6-0, 206, Jr., 2V (G/GS: 10/1, W-L: 0-3, ERA: 8.49, IP: 23.1, SO: 21, BB: 14)
LHP Tony Banaszak, L/L, 6-3, 275, Sr., 1V (G/GS: 12/8, W-L: 4-4, ERA: 8.05, IP: 53.2, SO: 18, BB: 14)
RHP Jamin Svendsen, R/R, 6-0, 205, So., 1V (G/GS: 16/6, W-L: 2-3, EAR: 7.46, IP: 56.2, SO: 21, BB: 26)
TOP FRESHMEN: (5)
RHP Josh Bartlome, R/R, 6-0, 192, FR, Rupert, Idaho (Minico)
SS Derek Bruce, R/R, 6-1, 174, FR, Lewiston, Idaho (Lewiston)
RHP Bryce Chamberlin, R/R, 6-1, 183, FR, Okanogan, Wash. (Okanogan)
LHP Marshall Hendon, L/L, 6-0, 188, FR, Sacramento, Calif. (Christian Brothers)
INF Grant Richardson, R/R, 6-0, 207, FR, Richland, Wash. (Richland)
TOP TRANSFERS: (5)
RHP Eddie Bonine, R/R, 6-4, 193, JR, TR, Glendale, Ariz. (Mountain Ridge/Glendale CC)
OF Jeremy Farrar, R/R, 5-9, 178, JR, TR, Mansfield, Texas (Mansfield/Hill JC)
RHP Billy Gorrell, R/R, 5-11, 183, JR, TR, Calgary, Alberta (Forest Lawn/Treasure Valley CC)
RHP Brandon Hundt, R/R, 6-0, 175, JR, TR, Chula Vista, Calif. (LaQuinta/Grossmont CC)
1B/OF Steve Mortimer, L/L, 6-0, 207, JR, TR, Richland, Wash. (Richland/Yakima Valley CC)
STARTERS LOST: (5)
1B Stefan Bailie, R/R, 6-0, 217, So.*, 2V (G/GS: 54/53, NA: .352, HR: 18, RBI: 56)
SS Richard Hall, R/R, 6-3, 200, So., 1V (G/GS: 36/26, BA: .258, HR: 0, RBI: 8)
OF Mike Knight, S/R, 6-0, 197, Sr.*, 2V (G/GS: 49/43, BA: .346, HR: 4, RBI: 28)
OF Justin Williams, L/L, 5-11, 187, Sr., 2V (G/GS: 41/27, BA: .196, HR: 6, RBI: 15)
LHP Justin Cayetano, R/L, 5-7, 160, Jr., 1V (G/GS: 19/13, W-L: 3-4, ERA: 7.78, IP: 76.1, SO: 31, BB: 29)
OTHER LETTERMEN LOST: (4)
2B Van Delos Santos, S/R, 5-6, 175, Jr., 1V (G/GS: 23/11, BA: .075, HR: 0, RBI: 1)
C Ryan Sullivan, R/R, 6-2, 200, Sr., 1V (G/GS: 15/4, BA: .129, HR: 0, RBI: 0)
OF Adrian Thomas, R/R, 5-11, 185, Jr., 1V (G/GS: 35/28, BA: .339, HR: 4, RBI: 19)
3B Tanner Kahler, L/R, 6-0, 169, So., 1V (G/GS: 42/25, BA: .217, HR: 1, RBI: 14)
OF Brad Philley, R/R, 6-2, 208, Sr., 1V (did not play 2001)
SS Aaron Smith, R/R, 5-11, 148, So., 1V (G/GS: 28/13, BA: .218, HR: 0, RBI: 9)
RHP Donny Davis, R/R, 6-2, 220, Sr., 2V (G/GS: 23/0, W-L: 3-4, ERA: 6.09, IIP: 34.0, SO: 13, BB: 15)
RHP Tyson Thompson, R/R, 6-3, 210, Jr., 3V (G/GS: 15/8, W-L: 1-5, ERA: 8.44, IP: 42.2, SO: 32, BB: 35)
RHP Tony Auckland, R/R, 6-4, 210, So., 1V (G/GS: 5/0, W-L: 0-0, ERA: 27.00, IP: 2.1, SO: 5, BB, 4)
LHP Sean Donlin, L/L, 5-11, 180, Jr., 3V (G/GS: 7/0, W-L: 0-0, ERA: 8.68, IP: 9.1, SO: 6, B: 7)
NAME: Washington State University PRESIDENT: Dr. V. Lane Rawlins
FOUNDED: 1890 (Land Grant University) ENROLLMENT: 22000
COLORS: Crimson and Gray NICKNAME: Cougars/Cougs
CONFERENCE: Pacific-10 - WSU is a member of the Pacific-10 Conference Baseball League, along with Arizona, Arizona State, California, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, and Washington.
FIGHT SONG: 'The Fight Song,' 1919, with words by Zella Melcher and music by Phyllis Sayles.
ALMA MATER: 'Washington, My Washington,' 1913, with words and music by J. DeForest Cline.