Utah State University club baseball, seeded fifth in the nation, is one of eight teams earning a spot to the College World Series this weekend in Georgia and the Aggies have raised all but $5,000 of the $25,000 needed for 15 players and two coaches to make the trip.
“This is the first time in the history of club baseball at Utah State that we’ve been successful enough to qualify for the Club World Series,” said first-year Coach Norm Doyle.
The team’s season started in mid-February and, given Utah’s winter weather, required extensive early-season travel to warmer climates. The Aggies played competitive junior college teams; they made a stop for a tournament in Mesquite, and also played at Arizona State in Phoenix during spring break.
“It was a good schedule because it prepared us for our conference play,” said Doyle. “We won 11 of 12 league games and that earned us the championship and qualified us for the NoPac regionals against schools from Utah to Oregon.”
Going undefeated (3-0) in the regional tournament in LeGrand, Oregon earned a trip to the Club World Series Memorial Day weekend in Columbus, Georgia.
The Aggies are scheduled to play their first of the tournament Saturday against UC San Diego. USU takes a 27-7 record into the national meet and has won 10 straight.
It’s Doyle’s guess that club baseball started at Utah State about 10 years ago. The Aggies sponsored intercollegiate baseball until the late-1960’s but finances and weather challenges forced an end to the sport.
“About 12 years ago the National Club Baseball Association was created and now over 150 colleges and universities participate. We’re akin to the Utah State Hockey Team, which is also a club sport at USU.”
The 2011 season was the first time the Aggies captured the conference championship before repeating this year.
Doyle said the team is primarily “home grown” with nine of the 15 roster players from Cache Valley. That includes four players from Mountain Crest High School, two each from Logan and Sky View and one from Preston High. Pitching Coach Scott Stranski assists Doyle.
Doyle said Tuesday the team has raised just over $20,000 in less than a week and is still seeking $5,000 to cover all trip expenses.
He said donations could be made at <a href=”http://www.usubaseball.com/” target=”_blank”>www.USUbaseball.com</a>.