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2024 college baseball roundup

by IAN BIVONA
Sports Reporter | June 11, 2024 3:00 AM

MOSES LAKE — While a handful of baseball teams around the country are still competing, the 2024 baseball season has come to a close for regional colleges. Read along for a look at where Big Bend, Central Washington, Gonzaga and Washington State finished this spring.

Big Bend

The Vikings finished the season with a 13-15 record in Northwest Athletic Conference games, taking sixth in the NWAC East standings and missing the NWAC tournament.

After sweeping a four-game set against Yakima Valley on April 24 and 27, the Vikings had their sights set on the postseason with a 9-11 mark in conference matchups. While a strong finish would have helped lock up a spot in the NWAC Baseball Championship, Big Bend finished the season by splitting each of its final four doubleheaders; a 2-1 win and a 4-3 loss against NWAC East-champion Spokane on May 1; a 7-3 win and an 8-7 loss on to Spokane on May 4; an 11-5 win and a 7-2 loss to Treasure Valley on May 8; and a 10-0 win and a 13-8 loss to Treasure Valley on May 11.

Big Bend split nine of its 14 NWAC doubleheaders this spring.

Outfielder Ryley Doig led the Vikings in hits (49), RBI (37), stolen bases (14), triples (5) and home runs (4) this spring, while infielder Oak Held posted a team-high in doubles (10) and batting average (.326). 

Local high school alums Tyson Laugen (Ephrata) and Blaine Macdonald (Moses Lake) took the field for the Vikings this season. Laugen collected 23 hits, three doubles and one home run while driving in 18 runs, while Macdonald had 16 hits, three doubles and 11 RBI.

Five Vikings took home all-conference honors this spring; Held was named a first-team infielder, Doig was named a first-team outfielder, Hayden Schooler was named a first-team pitcher, Brendan McKinley was named a second-team pitcher and James Macrae was named a second-team reliever.

Central Washington

Despite dropping six of the final eight games of the regular season against Montana State Billings and Northwest Nazarene, the Central Washington Wildcats still qualified for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Baseball Championships in Billings, Mont., earlier last month.

As the No. 3 seed, the Wildcats took on No. 2 seed Western Oregon and opened the game with back-to-back home runs by Kevin Varner Jr. and Austin Ohland to take an early 2-0 lead.

The lead was short-lived, as the Wolves tied the ballgame in the bottom of the same inning and later took a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the third. While a three-run top of the seventh allowed Central to regain the lead, Western Oregon took the lead for good in the bottom of the same inning by scoring five runs en route to a 9-5 win.

Facing elimination, Central found itself down 13-0 through the first five innings against top-seeded Northwest Nazarene before eventually falling 16-6 to the eventual GNAC champion Nighthawks. 

Central finished the spring with a 21-29 overall record and a 15-17 record in GNAC matchups. Catcher Ben Leid led the Wildcats in batting average (.425), hits (77), triples (3) home runs (9) and RBI (46) this spring, while Varner posted team-highs in doubles (16) and triples (3).

On the mound, Othello High School alum Jonathan Garza II posted an ERA of 3.93 in 14 starts this spring, posting a conference-high 10.27 strikeouts per game.

Seven Wildcats received all-conference honors; Leid was named the Player of the Year, Marcus Manzardo was named the Newcomer of the Year, Ohland and Varner were both first-team all-conference, Garza, Daniel Charron and Andrew Sharp were all named second-team all-conference and Nolan Milliman received honorable mention honors.

Gonzaga

The Bulldogs ended the spring with a 21-32 overall record and a 14-10 mark in the West Coast Conference, finishing fourth in the conference and reaching the WCC Baseball Championships for the seventh consecutive season.

After besting No. 5 seed Santa Clara in the opening round, the Bulldogs lost 10-7 to top-seeded San Diego, falling into the consolation bracket. The Zags defeated No. 3 seed Saint Mary’s 11-5 in the first round of the consolation bracket but fell 21-3 to No. 2 Portland to close out their 2024 season.

Leading the way on offense this season was first baseman Tommy Eisenstat, posting a batting average of .301 and 58 hits, both of which were team-highs. Catcher Donovan Ratfield led the Bulldogs with 12 doubles, outfielder Vincent Temesvary hit eight home runs and outfielder Jordan Hamberg drove in a team-high 34 runs this spring.

Six Zags earned all-conference recognition this season; Eisenstat, pitcher Justin Feld, pitcher Erik Hoffberg, infielder Payton Knowles and Temesvary all received honorable mentions, while Hoffberg, Knowles and pitcher Miles Gosztola were named to the WCC All-Freshman Team.

Washington State

The Cougars ended the 2024 season with a 21-32 overall record and a 9-21 record in Pac-12 contests, finishing the year one win shy of qualifying for the Pac-12 Baseball Tournament.

The top nine teams qualify for the tournament; Washington claimed the last spot, posting a 10-20 record in conference games this spring.

WSU’s lone conference series win came in March, sweeping Arizona State in a three-game set with 8-7, 3-2 and 8-6 wins over the Sun Devils. 

In the final stretch of the regular season, the Cougars went 2-7 in Pac-12 matchups against Oregon State, USC and Oregon; the two wins were a 10-9 win over the Beavers on May 4 and a 20-8 win over the Trojans on May 10.

Infielder Cole Cramer posted team-highs in batting average (.345), hits (68) and runs scored (42) this spring, while outfielder Nate Swarts tied with Cramer for a team-high 15 doubles. Infielder Joey Kramer led the way with 11 home runs this season, while outfielder Max Hartman drove in 41 runs.

Kramer and pitcher Grant Taylor both received all-conference recognition this spring, while Swartz received an all-conference honorable mention.

    The Central Washington Wildcats took third in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference standings, reaching the GNAC Baseball Championships.
 
 
    The Washington State Cougars fell one game short of reaching the Pac-12 Baseball Tournament, posting a 9-21 mark in conference games.