Seven Zags Make Summer Ball All-Star Rosters
July 19, 2017
SPOKANE, Wash.--Seven Gonzaga baseball players were named to All-Star teams in their respective summer baseball leagues recently, headed by a trio of Bulldogs in the Alaska Baseball League's Midsummer Classic and two more in the West Coast League's showcase game. Additionally, pitchers Mac Lardner and Trent Schulte earned All-Star designation in the California Collegiate League and the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, respectively.
Rising senior Calvin LeBrun was one member of the Alaskan All-Star trio after a strong start with the Mat-Su Miners. The lefty has posted a 2.65 ERA in 34.0 innings so far for the Miners, striking out 25 batters while walking just five. The strong ERA and strikeout/walk ratio show that LeBrun has continued his strong junior season into the summer, one of his stated goals for his time in Alaska.
"I had a decent year this last year, so I wanted to keep it going," said LeBrun. "Particularly, what I wanted to work on was getting stronger and fine-tuning a couple of my pitches. My change-up, especially, and I wanted to get back to pin-pointing my fastball to both sides of the plate. Nothing too big, just fine-tuning some things."
That fine-tuning paid off, booking him a ticket to the league's showcase event which took place July 16 in Anchorage, Alaska. Despite not playing in the game due to an elevated pitch count entering the break, LeBrun still partook in the weekend's festivities and cherished every moment.
"I was an All-Star two years ago, so it was cool to do it all over again. This is my last season of summer ball, so it was nice to experience everything I wanted to do once more, like being an All-Star. It was bittersweet to make the team one more time and go through the whole thing again. I really soaked it all in this time; I really think I embraced it a little bit more."
Sharing the weekend with a trio of Gonzaga teammates made the weekend even sweeter for LeBrun. Both Jake Vieth and Jace VanDeBrake made the All-Star roster as members of the Anchorage Bucs (VanDeBrake forced the game's 2-2 final score with an RBI double in the sixth), and Nick Brooks participated in the league's home run derby. The senior slugger won the competition by swatting 32 homers in three rounds.
Meanwhile, rising junior Nick Nyquist was quite busy during the West Coast League's All-Star break after taking part in both the showcase game and the home run derby. During the derby on July 17, the Boise, Idaho, native belted nine home runs to advance to the second round of competition, and he fell just one shy of making the final round. On July 18 during the game itself, Nyquist drove in fellow Zag Ernie Yake - who was in Yakima, Wash., representing the Bellingham Bells - with a single in the seventh inning. It was Nyquist's second consecutive All-Star appearance.
In addition to the on-field festivities this year, the WCL sponsored a concert, a fan fest, and a luncheon that featured former big-leaguer Jeff Cirillo. The action-packed two days left Nyquist feeling tired but appreciative of the opportunity.
"It was a really good experience; it didn't feel like just a regular game," Nyquist said. "It was a lot of fun to play with everyone from around the league, to play in front of a lot of people, and just to go out and enjoy yourself. The home run derby, it was nice to go out there and swing hard and compete against the best power hitters from around the league."
With just under three weeks left in the season and the Sweets on the outside of the playoff race, Nyquist is focused on getting as many wins as possible and enjoying his remaining time in Walla Walla. He's also excited about building on his hot start and heading into fall camp with the Zags with plenty of momentum.
"I think summer ball is huge for developing your game and helping out the program," he said. "With a good summer, you can hit the ground running in the fall after polishing off all your skills by playing so much. It helps tremendously."
Nyquist's teammate in Yakima, Yake earned All-Star designation after a hot start to the season with the Bells. At the break, the rising sophomore was sixth in the league with a .346 batting average and 47 hits, 12 for extra bases. The infielder started Tuesday's All-Star Game, also tallying a hit.
Elsewhere, Lardner returned home for the summer to play for the San Luis Obispo Blues, a bit over 20 miles away from his hometown of Templeton, Calif. Playing in familiar territory has pushed the rising sophomore to a 1.89 ERA and 4-0 record as of July 17. He's also fanned 39 batters while walking just nine in 33.1 innings of work.
On the opposite side of the country, Schulte earned All-Star designation after a strong first half for the Onondaga (N.Y.) Flames of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. The lefty has pitched 19.2 relief innings for the Flames, posting a 1-1 record with one save and a 2.74 ERA. He's averaged nearly a strikeout per inning so far.
In all, 26 Zags are spending their summers playing in leagues all across the continent. A list of Bulldogs active in summer ball follows below.
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