Aggies looking for third NCBA World Series title

LOGAN – After compiling a 14-1 region record and sweeping the region tournament, the Utah State baseball team is heading to the National Club Baseball Association World Series.

The eight region-winning teams from across the country will meet in Holly Springs, North Carolina from May 26 to June 1 for the double elimination tournament. The Aggies have been there before, winning the championship in both 2012 and 2014. The experience gives the players and coaches confidence, but they also know how difficult it can be.

“We feel we have a really good chance,” head coach Brad Singer said. “We feel like we’re peaking at the right team, playing really good baseball.”

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Singer was on the 2012 championship team. This year’s first baseman, senior Jake Anderson, was a freshman on the 2014 championship team.

“It was an incredible experience,” Anderson said. “I’m anxious to get back there. I think this team compares every bit as well as that team did. I think we have the right coaching structure, I think the players fit with the types of situations that we’re expecting to see there.”

One major hurdle the team has to get past doesn’t have much to do with its competition. Because USU baseball is a club team not sanctioned by the school, not only do the players go without athletic scholarships, but the trip to North Carolina – and all other team expenses – has to be funded by the players. Singer said he estimates the cost of travel to approach $35 thousand, and they have a short time to get the money raised.

When the team isn’t practicing, players are spending their time trying to find that money. They are approaching businesses and individuals for donations, as well as <a href=”” target=”_blank”>online fundraisers</a>. Senior pitcher Cole Stocker said he met with 15 to 20 people and businesses last week.

“Hours and hours,” he said. “Jake (Anderson) has done most of it. We have to really rely on donations, a lot of extracurricular stuff to really fund ourselves. We’re traveling in minivans, its not comfort. We’re packing four into a room, sometimes five, trying to be able to afford it.”

The expense isn’t the only problem the team has faced this season. The extended winter weather has made practicing difficult. Anderson called it “a miracle” that the team has made it this far.

“I have no clue how we have gotten here,” he said. “We’re lucky if we can get one practice in a week sometimes. We struggled in the early part of the season because we just couldn’t practice. We had to go in the Fieldhouse until late March, trying to practice inside. It’s a lot different than a regular baseball field.”

Of the 29 games, only six have been at home. The rest have been away from Logan, but Anderson said the team has been put together in a way to be able to handle the travels. Stocker agreed, saying the road trips have prepared the Aggies for this final trip.

“Guys getting used to traveling has been a big part of this year, so going to nationals, having that trip across the country to North Carolina, its going to be an easy transition in my opinion. We’ve played on all types of fields so I think the guys are ready for this adjustment.”

The competition will be tough from the start. Utah State is a No. 4 seed and will start against Nevada, the defending NCBA World Series champions.

“Ironically, we scheduled a series with the University of Nevada two years ago, in Reno, with the contingency of them coming to our place this year,” Singer said. “They refused, and we get them in the first round. We are very excited about that matchup. I think those guys are confident, they are hungry, they are ready. Every team is good. You’re going to face the best of the best.”

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