ST. GEORGE – The Dixie State baseball team was selected as a co-favorite with Cal Baptist to repeat as PacWest champions.
The Storm edged out the Lancers last year by two games. Those two teams along with Azusa Pacific were all invited to the NCAA tournament last year. Dixie State head coach Chris Pfatenhauer has directed the Storm to two consecutive PacWest championships and two NCAA appearances. Click here for the 2016 Pac West preseason poll.
“We lost some good players to graduation,” said Pfatenhauer. “But we like what we have seen during the fall this year.”
LF-Coach Pfatenhauer plans to platoon several players in left field. Transfers Trey Reineke and Ryan Rodriguez, Miles Bice and infielder Drew McLaughlin will all see time there. Reineke hit .336 last year at Northeastern JC. Rodriguez transferred brom Butte CC where he batted .416 and had 43 RBIs. Bice started 22 games for the Storm last year. He hit .269 with 4 doubles, 10 RBIs and 21 runs scored. Preseason all conference pick McLaughlin will normally be at 2B, but will see some time in the outfield. “We have such talent at the 2B position,” said Pfatenhauer. “We will use Drew’s versatility and have him in the outfield at times.”
CF-JC transfer Jerome Hill will play in center. At Los Medonos College, Hill led the Mustangs with a .348 average and stole 26 bases in 27 attempts.
RF-Trey Kamachi is a 3-year starter and will anchor the outfield. The Hawaii native started 39 games last year, batted .248 with 7 doubles, 15 RBIs and 33 runs scored.
C-Sophomore Jake Davison and junior transfer Reece Lucero will split duties at catcher. “Both of our catchers are very good defensively,” said Pfatenhauer. “Unless one outplays the other during the season, they will likely split games.” Davison started 13 games last year. He recorded no errors in 131 chances and threw out 5 of 12 base stealers. Lucero batted .286 and had a .992 fielding percentage.
3B-Sophomore Hayes Hall is expected to start at 3B. Hall had 15 starts last year, hit .250 and posted 100 percent fielding percentage.
SS-Senior Tanner Morache won PacWest Newcomer of the Year and first team honors last year. He is a preseason PacWest selection this year. Morache led the storm in hitting at .367 with nine doubles, two home runs and 38 RBIs.
2B-Junior Drew McLaughlin joined Morache as a first team All PacWest selection last year and also as a preseason selection this year. The Arizona native hit .313 last year, hit 7 doubles and had 22 RBIs.
1B-Depending on opposing pitching, outfielder Ryan Rodriguez, Sam Hall and Cam Gust will all see time at first. Senior Hall started 29 games last year, batted .225 and batted in 14. “Sam Hall has been working with our batting coach and has improved greatly over last year,” said Pfatenhauer. “He is slated to bat cleanup for us on opening day.” Gust started 32 games last year, batted .221 with 4 doubles and 19 RBIs.
Other Infielders: Junior transfer Tyler Mildenberg, redshirt freshman Bryce Feist and incoming freshmen Kade Cloward and Joe Raymond will all see time.
DH/Utility: Various players will DH depending on opposing pitching. (S. Hall, Gust, Rodriguez, Bice, Reineke)
Starting: Desert Hills alum and sophomore Dylan File will be the opening day starter. File had a 6-1 record and an ERA of 2.63 last year. The second starter is sophomore Aaron Pope from Chubbuck, Idaho. Pope went 4-4 last year with a 4.33 ERA. The third starter is junior transfer Mason Hilty. Hilty went 9-3 with a 2.33 ERA at the College of Southern Idaho last year. The fourth starter is senior Chance Abrath out of West High School. Abrath returns after suffering injury last year. He appeared in five games last year posting a 2-1 record with a 3.51 ERA.
Spot starters and relief: Junior transfers Walker Williams and Sean Hardman and incoming freshman Preston Hannay will provide early relief. William went 7-3 at Lamar CC, posting a 4.02 ERA. Hardman pitched 10 games at UVU-Eastern, going 3-5 with a 5>40 ERA. Hannay is out of Murray High School where he was a former Region 7 MVP.
Relief: Kolton Brost, Spencer Greer and Jose Rosales-Rodarte will be the main relief pitchers. Senior Brost out of Payson High School made 24 appearances last year, posting a 3-0 record with a 4.20 ERA. Senior transfer Greer appeared in 19 games for Western Nevada, posting a 7-5 record with a 2.67 ERA and throws a 90 plus mph fastball. Redshirt junior Rosales-Rodarte is a sidewinder. He appeared in 12 games as a sophomore with a 4.55 ERA.
Closer: Senior Jeremy Alderman will be the closer for DSU. Last year he led the staff with 25 appearances, all in relief, and recorded a 3-0 mark with a 5.65 ERA.
Other pitchers: The bullpen also includes Mark Marinch, Zach Cordova, Trevor Tait, Tyler Burdett and Tanner Howell.
The Storm has started the last two seasons poorly, only to put together great closing runs to win the Pac West and make the playoffs. “If you noticed the teams that we have begun play with the last two years then you would understand our poor starts,” said Pfatenhauer. “Cal Poly Pomona and Colorado Mesa have both been to the College World Series the past two years. If you want to get better you play good teams.”
This year the Storm open with Cal State-San Bernardino. The Wolves started their season last weekend going 2-1 in their series against Sonoma State. DSU will play four games against CSU-SB beginning Friday at 6 p.m. at Hurst Field.
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