Bearcat Players Rolling Along in Summer League Action

Willamette Ended 2013 Season by Winning Nine of last 11 Games

By Brandon Chinn, Athletics Communications Writer

SALEM, ORE. -- After a successful baseball season in which the Bearcats finished third in the Northwest Conference, their best finish since 2003, several players are taking to summer leagues in order to maintain and improve upon their overall skill sets. In total, 17 players from the 2013 team, which won nine of its last 11 games, are competing in various summer leagues throughout the country.

Bryan Afzali (So., OF, Manhattan Beach, CA/Mira Costa HS) and Nate Balk (Fr., RHP, Everett, WA/Cascade HS) are spending the summer in the Midwest playing for the Manitowoc Bandits of the Northeast Wisconsin League.

Afzali has gotten off to a hot start and is now batting .380 with three doubles and five stolen bases. For his early season efforts, Afzali was selected to the league's annual July All-Star Game. Balk owns a 1-1 record with a 5.20 earned run average (ERA) in 8.2 innings for the Bandits. He has struck out seven batters while walking five.

A quartet of Willamette sophomores are competing together this summer. Hunter Gallant (INF, Rescue, CA/Ponderosa HS), Peter Hoffman (RHP, Hayden, ID/Lake City HS), Andrew Wilson (OF, Granite Bay, CA/Granite Bay HS) and Tiras Koon (C, Honolulu, HI/Iolani HS) are all members of the Auburn Wildcats of the Golden State Collegiate League (GSCBL).

Hitting primarily in the third spot in the lineup, Gallant is hitting .398 with a league leading 10 doubles, three triples and 19 runs batted in (RBIs). He's also scored 24 runs for the Wildcats.

Wilson is hitting .267 with four RBIs and eight runs scored while Koon is at .170 with 11 RBIs and five runs scored in eight games played this summer.

Having led Willamette in wins, complete games, ERA and strikeouts during the 2013 season, Hoffman has made six appearances on the mound for Auburn this summer. He currently holds a 3-2 record to go along with a 3.28 earned run average. Hoffman has also struck out 31 opposing hitters in 35.2 innings pitched.

Corbin Bennett (Fr., 1B, Tustin, CA/Foothill HS) and Zach Holcomb (So., RHP, Bellevue, WA/Newport HS) are continuing the tradition of Willamette baseball players joining the Atwater Aviators of the GSCBL.

Bennett has played in seven games and owns a batting average of .156. He has also scored five runs and driven in three. Holcomb has thrown nine innings and surrendered 10 runs for the Aviators while striking out five.

Tosh Semlacher (Jr., OF, Gold River, CA/Jesuit HS) teamed up with Tri-Valley Bercovich which is also affiliated with the GSCBL. Playing in the outfield, Semlacher is hitting .320 with five doubles and four runs scored.

Shea Harrison (Fr., UTL, El Cerrito, CA/El Cerrito HS) is both pitching and playing the field with the Alameda Merchants of the GSCBL.

On the mound, Harrison has made seven appearances for the Merchants and has struck out 17 batters in 19.1 innings pitched. Offensively, he is batting .255 and has driven in seven RBIs while also scoring seven times.

Evan Giddings (Fr., RHP, El Cerrito, CA/St. Mary's HS) is also playing in Alameda as a member of the Alameda Black Sox of the Pacific West Baseball League. He has pitched 15.2 innings to date and currently owns a 1.73 earned run average.

Three members from the 2013 Bearcats are spending their summers in the Sacramento area playing for the Legends of the Sacramento Premier Baseball League (SPBL).

Brad Breier (So., C, Torrance, CA/South HS) currently has 18 hits in 44 at bats (.409 avg.) with five doubles and ten RBIs. Austin Hagarty (Fr., INF, Roseville, CA/Woodcreek HS) has started in 33 games for the Legends, batting .323 with seven doubles and fifteen runs batted in.

Jackson Watt has enjoyed plenty of success on the mound thus far with the Legends. In five starts, Watt has thrown two complete games and is undefeated at 5-0. He also has one save and has struck out 27 batters in 42 innings pitched.

After starting all 40 games at shortstop for Willamette last season, Matt Hirsch (Fr., INF, Edmonds, WA/Meadowdale HS) is batting .355 for the Wilkinson Cardinals. He has provided the Cardinals offense with nine doubles, three triples and 20 RBIs.

Gordie Clary (Fr., 1B, Vacaville, CA/Vacaville HS) is batting .324 for the Solano Mudcats. He is getting some time on the mound as well, striking out 12 to go along with his impressive 0.73 ERA in 12.1 innings pitched.

After pitching a career high in innings for the Bearcats in 2013, Garrett Davis (Jr., RHP, Marysville, WA/Marysville-Pilchuk HS) is 1-0 with a 3.61 ERA in 16.2 innings for the Skyway Mariners this summer.

The Bearcats will finish out their respective summer baseball seasons before returning to campus in time for the first day of classes on August 27. The first day of baseball's fall practice schedule is officially set for September 19.

Hunter Gallant hit a team-high .365 with 15 doubles, one home run and 29 runs batted in as a sophomore last season.

Hunter Gallant hit a team-high .365 with 15 doubles, one home run and 29 runs batted in as a sophomore last season.