Lewis-Clark State College Warriors
2002 Baseball Season Outlook
For the first time since the opening of the 1999 season, the Warriors are not defending a NAIA World Series title. Gone from last year are five key pitchers, four were drafted and one signed as a free agent. Also gone are two of their top three hitters from last year, and 47 of their 93 home runs have also departed. But like most successful programs, Lewis-Clark State does not rebuild, they reload. Ed Cheff, in his 26th season, has brought in a lot of new talent to mesh with the returners for another run at a national title.
The Warriors bats may be more productive this season with the influx of new talent and those that return. Leading the returnees is NAIA first-team All-America catcher, Gabe Stajduhar. The senior, who coach Cheff refers to as a "big time guy" will be counted on to handle a young pitching staff, and continue to hit the ball like last year. Stajdhuar batted .354, second-best amongst the returnees, with eight home runs and 36 RBI. Tyler Best will also see some time behind the plate, spelling Stajduhar. Best is a strong hitter who is working on developing into a good defensive catcher. David Bernstine, who played outfield in junior college, may also see time behind the plate. If the last name looks familiar, he is the nephew of former Warrior, Pookie Bernstine. Other catchers that will contend for playing time are newcomers: Gavin Concepcion, Jaime Cortes, Kona Sampaio, and Scott Wilson.
The infield looks to be as good as ever. At first base, power-hitting Mike Madrid returns. Not only good with the bat, Madrid play well defensively, only committing four errors in 274 chances last year. Louisiana State-transfer Zeph Zinsman may also see some time at first. He is also a power hitter, having collected 16 homers at LSU last year. Zinsman primary position will be the designated hitter. Joe Wagner, a transfer from a junior college in Nevada, will play first base against teams that throw left-handed pitchers.
At second base, Brendan Ryan, a starter there last year, will return. He is the top returning hitter, having batted .375 last season. Micah Furtado, a redshirt, will challenge for playing time at second.
Matt Morgan, another junior college transfer, will inherit the shortstop position vacated by the graduation of Yoshi Kimura. Returnee Jay Knowlton could press for time at short, as can newcomer Justin Fuller. The middle infielder are almost interchangeable, allowing Cheff to look at several different double play combinations, before settling one just one.
Honorable Mention NAIA All-America Nick Walker will have to battle with redshirt Emerson Frostad. Walker hit .347 last year with eight home runs, but Frostad showed what he is capable of, over the summer, playing for the Canadian National Youth Team. Knowlton may even at third and freshman Kyle Peterson could compete for playing time.
In the outfield, Mark Gallagher has nailed down the starting spot in centerfield. He can run down the ball in the gaps, and is a solid hitter. Highly-touted JUCO transfer Tory Haven and Bernstine are penciled in at rightfield. Leftfield is a toss up between Paul Gallegos, Nick Browne, and Nick Bullen. Neil Litchfield, a Lewiston native, could work his way into the lineup. Brian Bowman, Tyson Dietz, Rob Schmidt, and Sampaio will all challenge for playing time in the outfield.
This year’s pitching staff has a lot of question marks. Collin Perschon will be the ace of the staff after leading the team in strikeouts with 94. Arizona State-transfer, Andy Torres, brings in a gaudy 13-4 record, and was named the All-Pac-10 second-team, a year ago. Perschon and Torres are studies in contrast. Perschon is the power pitcher while Torres depends on control. After those two, it is anyone’s guess who will fall into line to form a pitching rotation. Tim Petke, who sat out all of last year, pitched extremely well for the Aloha Knights in the Pacific International League, this past summer. Cheff is hoping that he continues his success into this season. Veterans Ryan Heitmann and Nic Puckett will be counted on early to fill in as the #3 or #4 starter. Nick Seely will become the Warriors’ closer, with Ricky Bostick doing some spot starting and long relief. Patrick Bailes has made a positive impression during the preseason camp. The lefty comes to L-C after committing to Cal State-Northridge. Junior Avina, a medical redshirt last year, can start and pitch in relief. Also on the Warriors staff, maybe the tallest pitcher in the history of the program in 6-8 Casey Hoorelbeke. Kyle Correa returns to the Warrior staff after one year away from the program. Also expected to contribute are: Tony Caswick, Brian Escott, William Simmons, Taylor Skidmore, Spencer Stein, and Kevin Welch. David Ducharme, Jeremy Mannin, and Mark Sutherland will look to work into the bullpen.
Assistant coaches Kevin Matthews and Andy Alldredge are back for their second seasons at LCSC. Newcomers to the staff are John Sutherland and Clare Langford. Matthews will coach the pitching staff while Alldredge will work with the infielders. Sutherland will help assist Matthews in his duties and Langford, who played for L-C last year, will help coach the base runners. Matt Hellman, the Warriors’ leading hitter last year, has helped with the staff in coaching the outfielders, before going to spring training with the San Diego Padres.
Lewis-Clark State’s schedule has some tough areas and some not so tough areas. In all, the Warriors will play 30 home games and 23 games away from the cozy confines of Harris Field. Right out of the gate, the Warriors open on the road with arch-rival Grand Canyon University. L-C lost two-of-three to them last year, and will try to turn the tables on the ‘Lopes this year. Central Washington will open the home half of the schedule, Friday, February 15th, the first of a three-game series. The Paffile Trucking Tournament, with Eastern Oregon, Albertson, and Linfield, will be the first of four tournaments at Harris Field. The Banana Belt Tournament with British Columbia, Albertson, and Whitworth, will be in Lewiston to kick off the month of March. Western Baptist and Concordia (OR) will participate in the Guardian Plumbing and Heating Tournament. British Columbia and Saint Martin’s wraps up the tournament slate, in Lewiston, with the Lewis-Clark State College Tournament.
Prior to their trip to Hawaii, the Warriors will play in the University of British Columbia Tournament, February 21-24. Teams in the tournament are: UBC, Azusa Pacific, The Master’s College, and Albertson. From there, L-C will play in the 27th Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Rainbow Easter Baseball Tournament in Honolulu. And who does LCSC open the tournament against? None other than 2001 NAIA World Series Champion Birmingham-Southern, now serving a two-year probationary period to join NCAA Division I’s Big South Conference. Hawaii-Hilo and Hawaii Pacific will also participate along with NCAA Division I teams UC-Riverside and San Jose State University, who played in the College World Series two years ago, and the host Rainbows of Hawaii.
The LCSC-Gonzaga series continues on April 9, with the Warriors hoping to make amends after last year’s 1-0 loss at home. L-C will also play a single game at Washington and play a four-game home and home series against Washington State. The Warriors will also play a four-game home and home series with Albertson.
The season commences with the 46th annual Avista NAIA World Series, May 24-31, at Harris Field.
State College, 500 8th Avenue, Lewiston, ID 83501 (208) 792-5272