February 20, 2010 in Sports

It’s ‘Play ball!’ for area colleges

WSU, GU, Whitworth all in action this weekend
By The Spokesman-Review

Late winter, when a young man’s fancy turns to … baseball?

It seems to be the case, as the local Division I college baseball season opens this weekend, with Washington State hosting Seattle today and Gonzaga in Tucson, Ariz., for the Cactus Classic.

“We’re facing very good competition right out of the chute,” said GU coach Mark Machtolf, whose Bulldogs defeated Missouri 10-6 on Friday and play New Mexico State and Washington today. “It’s been great here and we’ve been able to get a bunch of good practices in. That’s a blessing because we have a young team.”

The Zags are coming off a 36-18, WCC championship season that ended in the NCAA tournament. But they open 2010 with questions and only a handful of returning starters.

One of those, however, is center fielder Drew Heid, who hit .355 last season and was even better in the summer, earning MVP honors in Alaska.

The Bulldogs will go with a rotation of junior Cody Martin (5-4, 3.07 ERA last year), who worked in the bullpen last season, recording six saves, left-handers Ryan Carpenter (6-4, 5.26) and Reedy Berg (4-4, 5.40) and “then TBA,” Machtolf said concerning this weekend’s tournament.

WSU coach Donnie Marbut has some rotation holes of his own – freshman Travis Cook was penciled in as the third starter, but suffered a collapsed lung last week and is out indefinitely – but has Chad Arnold (8-3, 4.39 ERA last season) and left-hander David Stilley (3-3, 4.63) at the top of the rotation. Those two, respectively, will start today and Sunday.

The Cougars, who were 32-25 in 2009, finished second in the Pac-10 and also appeared in the NCAA tournament, will open at home today at noon.

“It’s nice to get some games under your belt by playing in front of your crowd,” said Marbut, whose regular lineup includes seven returning starters. WSU plays six of its first 10 games in Pullman.

Whitworth opened its Division III season in California earlier this month and is in Nampa, Idaho, for three games this weekend.

Friday’s results

Gonzaga 10, Missouri 6: Drew Heid had four hits and Cameron Edman and Royce Bolinger homered to help the Bulldogs win their first season-opener in five years.

Northwest Nazarene 11-4, Whitworth 7-2: The Pirates (1-4) allowed eight runs in the first inning of the doubleheader opener and never recovered. Greg Hata went 2 for 2 and had four RBIs for the Whits in the opener.

Washington 4, New Mexico State 2: Ferris High product Andrew Kittredge went six-plus innings to earn the win as the Huskies won their season opener at the Cactus Classic.

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