|GREAT WEST CONFERENCE|
|HOW THEY’LL FINISH|
|New Jersey Tech||16||12||25||27|
|New York Tech||3||25||5||46|
|Projected NCAA teams: None.|
|Conference Schedule: 28 games, begins April 5.|
|Conference Tournament: May 21-25, at New Jersey Tech.|
|Player of the Year: Jake Gonzalez, of/rhp, Houston Baptist.|
|Pitcher of the Year: Adam Gunn, rhp, Utah Valley.|
|TOP PROSPECTS, 2013-2014 DRAFTS|
|1. Jordy Hart, of, Utah Valley (2014)|
|2. Ali Rodriguez, ss/dh, New York Tech|
|3. Jake Gonzalez, rhp/of, Houston Baptist|
|4. Chris Hammer, rhp, Northern Colorado (2014)|
|5. Dusten Knight, rhp, Texas-Pan American|
|1. C.J. Jarvis, ss, Houston Baptist (Tr.--Angelina, Texas, JC)|
|2. Mark Krueger, 1b, Utah Valley (HS--Draper, Utah)|
|3. Ryan Evans, rhp, Utah Valley (Tr.--Orange Coast, Calif., CC)|
• The Great West never got an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, officially because of its lack of stability and influx of reclassifying D-I teams such as Houston Baptist and Utah Valley. Those excuses are no longer true, but the NCAA has not given the Great West an automatic bid in any sport, making league members anxious to find leagues that do get automatic bids, and now realignment has torn the conference asunder. Four of its five full-time members are leaving--Houston Baptist is moving to the Southland Conference, while Chicago State, Texas-Pan American and Utah Valley are headed to reinforce the Western Athletic Conference. New Jersey Tech is the only full-time member of the league not officially moving on; the other three baseball members are affiliates only for baseball.
• Michael MacMillan went 5-46 as interim coach at NYIT last season, and the Bears have a new full-time coach in Bob Malvagna, who was a teammate at St. John’s of John Franco and Frank Viola. It’s his first college head-coaching gig after stints as an assistant at the Division II and junior-college levels. Chicago State also has a new head coach in Steve Joslyn, who spent the last 10 seasons as an assistant at Northern Illinois, including five as associate head coach.
• Utah Valley had a storybook season in 2012, running the table in the league, finishing No. 68 in the NCAA’s Ratings Percentage Index and posting a 32-game winning streak, just two short of the Division I record. The streak included a home win against eventual national champion Arizona. The Wolverines lost national RBI champ 1B Goose Kallunki but return four seniors to the lineup, led by SS Kai Hatch (.342/.383/.473, 12 SB), an efficient player who’s only been caught stealing three times in 29 career attempts. So. OF Jordy Hart (.275/.385/.416) is the best talent on the team, a strong, athletic outfielder who needs to polish his hitting approach (45 SO/16 BB). Fr. 1B Mark Krueger, a physical 6-foot-5, 225-pounder, will attempt to replace Kallunki. On the mound, the losses are also significant with ace Jeremy Gendlek among those lost to graduation, but Sr. Adam Gunn (8-3, 4.10, 86 IP/75 SO) statistically had a better year than Gendlek and moves into the Friday role. Utah Valley also hopes for a return to form by Sr. RHP Brian Whatcott, who was 5-0, 4.10 with seven saves in 2010 before injury sidelined him the last two seasons. He’s penciled in as the closer.
• UT Pan American and Houston Baptist both have a shot at catching Utah Valley. UTPA has enlisted reinforcements from Australia in a pair of junior-college transfers. OF Alex Howe is a lefthanded hitter and solid runner who will play center field. Jr. RHP Sam Street throws with below-average velocity from a low slot but went 7-2, 2.41 last year for New Mexico JC and keeps the ball down in the strike zone.
• Houston Baptist builds its run at the league title around Sr. RHP/OF Jake Gonzalez, a three-year starter in the field (.328/.371/.546, 5 HR, 9 3B) who had his best pitching performance in 2012 (2-2, 3.86, 5 SV; 21 IP/27 SO). The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder has touched the low 90s with his fastball off the mound and has improved his command of the strike zone as a hitter. The Huskies add an impact transfer in Jr. SS C.J. Jarvis, a Houston native who started his career at Missouri before transferring to Angelina (Texas) JC.