Nevada Baseball honored with several MWC awards
RENO, Nev. – The University of Nevada baseball team won the 2018 Mountain West regular season title and on Thursday three of the top postseason honors went to the Wolf Pack. Head coach T.J. Bruce was named the MW Coach of the Year, senior outfielder Grant Fennell was the Tony Gwynn MW Player of the Year and third baseman Joshua Zamora earned Freshman of the Year honors.
Joining Fennell and Zamora on the first team was senior pitcher Mark Nowaczewski and junior catcher Kaleb Foster. It was the second year in a row that Nowaczewski was named to the first team and the first honor for Foster. Senior designated hitter Mike Echavia and freshman right-handed pitcher Jake Jackson were voted to the second team by the coaches.
Nevada opens play in the 2018 MW Tournament today at 1:30 p.m. versus intrastate rival UNLV at Tony Gwynn Stadium in San Diego. The winner of the double elimination tournament will receive the Mountain West’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Bruce led the Pack to its second MW regular season title posting a 20-9 conference mark. Nevada was picked to finish fourth in the preseason coaches poll but won eight-of-10 conference series to claim the title. The Pack swept home series from San Jose State, San Diego State and New Mexico. He is the second Nevada coach to earn the honor as Jay Johnson was the MW Coach of the Year after leading the Pack to the 2015 title. In his first year, Bruce guided Nevada to the 2016 MW Tournament title game. The Pack has qualified for the season-ending MW Tournament each of his three seasons.
Fennell is the second Nevada player to receive the Tony Gwynn Player of the Year award joining Trenton Brooks who was the first player to earn the honor. The player of the year award was named after the former San Diego State head coach and MLB Hall of Famer in 2015. Fennell, also from San Diego where Gwynn played 20 seasons for the Padres, led the MW in conference play with 33 runs scored and a .479 on base percentage. He was second in MW action with a .405 batting average and 49 hits. The outfielder was seventh with 142 total bases, tied for seventh with nine doubles, tied for ninth with 26 RBI and was 10th with 65 total bases playing all 29 MW games for the Wolf Pack. Fennell was named the MW Player of the Week on April 3 after batting .500 in a home-series victory over UNLV.
In his first season at Nevada, Zamora won the MW batting title hitting .427 in conference action. The Foothill, Calif. product also ranked in the top five in five offensive categories; second in on base percentage (.477), third in slugging percentage (.664), third in hits (47), fourth in total bases (73) and tied for fifth in runs scored (29). He was also eighth with 28 RBI and six home runs in MW play. He is the second Wolf Pack player earn MW Freshman of the Year honors as Cal Stevenson was a co-recipient in 2015.
A two-time first-team MW selection from Sparks, Nev., Nowaczewski pitched the first game of nine MW series and posted a 4-1 record with a 4.74 ERA in his conference starts. His 62.2 innings pitched in MW play tied for first, 43 strikeouts ranked sixth, four wins tied for fourth, 4.74 ERA was ninth and .291 opponent batting average ranked 10th. He was named MW Pitcher of the Week twice during the season after earning wins over Fresno State.
Foster had a breakout season as a junior batting .378 to rank third in conference in MW action. The Gardnerville, Nev. native scored 21 runs, had six doubles, a triple and four home runs in 23 MW games. His .457 on base percentage ranked fourth and .622 slugging percentage fifth in conference play.
Echavia started 28 games and played in all 29 MW games, 20 starts came at designated hitter and nine in the outfield. The Pleasanton, Calif. batted .368 with 31 runs scored, seven doubles, two triples, 37 RBI and four home runs. The 37 RBI ranked second in MW play, 31 runs tied for third and his .464 on base percentage was third. He finished seventh in batting average (.368) and 10th with 42 hits.
Jackson, from Lake Forest, Calif. worked in the Pack’s rotation all season going 6-2 with a save, 6.04 ERA, and 42 strikeouts in 56.2 innings pitched in MW play. The six wins was tops in conference action while his innings pitched ranked sixth and strikeouts tied for seventh. After pitching eight shutout innings at home against UC Riverside with 10 strikeouts, Jackson earned his first MW Pitcher of the Week honor on March 20.
2018 ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST BASEBALL FIRST TEAM
Nic Ready, Jr., 1B, Air Force
Edgar Gonzalez, Jr., RHP, Fresno State
Grant Fennell, Sr., OF, Nevada
Kaleb Foster, Jr., C, Nevada
Mark Nowaczewski, Sr., RHP, Nevada
Joshua Zamora, Fr., 3B, Nevada
Chase Calabuig, Sr., OF, San Diego State
Garrett Hill, Jr., RHP, San Diego State
Jordan Verdon, Jr., 1B, San Diego State
Brett Bautista, Sr., LF, San José State
Andrew Mitchel, Jr., LHP, San José State
Kyle Isbel, Jr., CF, UNLV
Bryson Stott, So., SS, UNLV
2018 ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST BASEBALL SECOND TEAM
Rob Dau, Jr., C, Air Force
Zach Ashford, Jr., CF, Fresno State
Korby Batesole, Sr., SS, Fresno State
Mike Echavia, Sr., DH, Nevada
Jake Jackson, Fr., RHP, Nevada
Chad Bible, Jr., DH, San Diego State
Jacob Erickson, Fr., LHP, San Diego State
Julian Escobedo, So., OF, San Diego State
Fineas Del Bonta-Smith, Jr., RHP, San José State
Shane Timmons, Sr., 1B, San José State
Nick Ames, Jr., 1B, UNLV
Bryan Menendez, Sr., RHP, UNLV
Nick Rodriguez, Sr., 2B, UNLV
Alan Strong, Sr., RHP, UNLV
Tony Gwynn Player of the Year: Grant Fennell, Sr., UTL, Nevada
Co-Pitcher of the Year: Garrett Hill, Jr., RHP, San Diego State
Co-Pitcher of the Year: Andrew Mitchel, Jr., LHP, San José State
Freshman of the Year: Joshua Zamora, 3B
Coach of the Year: T.J. Bruce, Nevada