Saint Mary's (0-0) vs. New Mexico State (0-0)
Friday, Feb. 14: LHP Ryan Brockett (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. LHP Christopher Bradley (0-0, 0,00), 5:05 p.m. (PST)
Saturday, Feb. 15 (game one): RHP Cameron Neff (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. RHP Kyle Kilgore (0-0, 0.00), 12:05 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 15 (game two): RHP David Dellaserra (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. LHP Robert Kraft (0-0, 0.00 ERA), 4:05 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 16: TBA vs. LHP Trey Higgenbotham (0-0, 0.00 ERA), 11:05 a.m.
MORAGA, Calif. -- All the talk of transition, a new direction and what might change in year one of the Eric Valenzuela era can be committed to memory this weekend for the Saint Mary's baseball team.
Now, it's time to lace up the cleats and get to work.
The 2014 Gaels take the field for the first time this weekend as they travel to Las Cruces, N.M. to take on New Mexico State in a four-game series. It will be Valenzuela's first series as Saint Mary's head coach, and it now becomes time for his squad to use the lessons and new approaches taught during a winter of hard work and preparation.
To start things, Saint Mary's sends left-hander Ryan Brockett to the mound for Friday's 5:05 p.m. (PST) game against the Aggies. Brockett is one of just four seniors on this year's team, and returns to anchor the staff after compiling a 5-5 record and 3.70 ERA as a junior. The southpaw delivered one of the highlight performances of the 2013 season for the Gaels when he shut down Chicago State for the first no-hitter in program history.
Neff will start game one of the doubleheader and Dellaserra will get the ball in game two, with each slated to make their first collegiate start. Neff was named Monterey County Player of the Year last year by the Monterey Herald last year, while Dellaserra made 14 appearances out of the bullpen for the Gaels and compiled a 4.50 ERA with no decisions. Sunday's starter is yet to be determined.
Offensively, Saint Mary's turns to a pair of experienced players to anchor the middle of its lineup. First baseman Collin Ferguson returns for his junior season and carries with him All-WCC preseason team honors. Across the diamond, Anthony Villa is back for his sophomore campaign after earning All-WCC freshman team honors a year ago.
New Mexico State opens its 2014 season this weekend for longtime head coach Rocky Long, and the Aggies certainly have expectations of their own after getting picked to finish second by Western Athletic Conference (WAC) coaches. Long's bunch finished 2013 with an overall record of 29-28 and a conference mark of 13-14.
The Aggies will roll out a completely new starting rotation this year, with senior left-hander Christopher Bradley set to toe the slab on Friday night. Bradley went 5-5 with a 4.99 ERA in 2013, making seven starts in 25 appearances. Set to join him as starters on opening weekend are senior right-hander Kyle Kilgore, junior lefty Robert Kraft and junior left-hander Trey Higgenbotham.
On the offensive side, All-WAC second team selection Michael Medina returns for New Mexico State to patrol the outfield in his senior season. Medina hit .324 with 31 RBIs last year as the Aggies' right fielder and he returns as the team's leading hitter this season. Fellow senior Quinnton Mack is also back to lead the NMSU offense and play the outfield.
Saint Mary's opens the 2014 home schedule next Thursday when it hosts UC Davis at 2 p.m. as part of the Gael Invitational. Kansas State, Davis and Portland will join the Gaels at Louis Guisto Field for eight games in four days, with all games starting at 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. For ticket information, click the Tickets link on SMCGaels.com or call the SMC Athletic Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx.