Geckos set to represent Carbondale, Glenwood in Mountain West summer league
For the second summer in a row, collegiate baseball players from coast to coast will converge on Carbondale and Glenwood Springs to represent the Glenwood Geckos’ Mountain West Summer College Baseball League.
The Geckos, led by current Oregon Tech University head coach Nick Gauna and his assistant, Kansas Wesleyan University head coach Caleb Wade, feature a roster full of redshirt freshmen and sophomore, with a few juniors and seniors sprinkled in on the 24-man roster.
Players from California, Colorado, Minnesota, New York, South Dakota and Washington dot the roster.
Leading the way for the Geckos will be some big name local products in former Roaring Fork standout and future Colorado Mesa outfielder Tanner Nieslanik. The left-handed hitting outfielder brings a blend of speed and power to the Geckos, along with a strong right arm in the outfield that makes runners think twice about advancing on him.
Joining the former Roaring Fork standout will be former Glenwood Springs star pitcher Chase Nieslanik, who is coming off of a redshirt freshman season at the University of Nebraska-Kearney. Chase will see action on the mound for the Geckos, where he stood out for Glenwood, where he recorded 127 strikeouts over his junior and senior seasons of high school.
The Geckos should have no problems with pitching this year as Oregon Tech redshirt freshmen Josh Davis and Trask Telesmanich will get work this summer under Gauna, as will Oregon Tech sophomore John Schulz.
“John is just a strike-throwing machine,” Gauna said. “He’s a real competitor when he’s on the mound. He went 3-3 for us this year and we expected him to be just a one-inning guy, but every time we put him out there he just kept getting outs, throwing strikes and doing his job well. We rewarded him by moving him into the rotation, and then he did a phenomenal job.”
During his time as a starter, Schulz held Lewis & Clark State College — which went on to win the NAIA National Championship this past season — to four runs over six innings.
In fact, Schulz should be familiar with Geckos senior catcher Cooper Goldby, who was a catcher on the NAIA national champion Warriors, backstopping them to a 52-8 record while hitting .246 with eight doubles and seven runs batted in. Defensively Goldby had just two errors and no passed balls while throwing out all 12 attempted base stealers in 171 chances behind the plate.
Goldby will be joined behind the plate by Azusa Pacific redshirt senior Brian Magana, who started 29 games, recording 28 hits, scoring 17 runs and driving in 12 runs of his own. Magana also caught 11 runners attempting to steal.
The veteran duo behind the plate will provide the Geckos’ young pitching staff with leadership and structure, allowing them to build on their raw ability over the summer.
“Both of those guys come from great programs,” Gauna said. “LC State obviously has 18 national championships and Azusa Pacific was NAIA when I was in college. They dominated there and now they’re in DII and they’re strong there as well. Both programs put out great players every year. With as many redshirt freshmen we’ll have on the mound and in the field, it was definitely important to have some veteran leadership behind the plate when putting the team together over the course of the school year.”
Outside of Davis, Nieslanik, Telesmanich and Schulz on the mound, others to watch toe the rubber are Taylor Gulick (1-0, 0.60 ERA, 15 IP) from Blue Mountain Community College, Cooper Webster (4-2, 3.12 ERA, 24 K’s, 49.0 IP) from Lane Community College and Jackson Hokum from Fullerton College in California. Hokum’s dad played pro baseball, so he has a good feel of how to get guys out, according to Gauna.
Offensively, the Geckos will have a good blend of speed at the top and bottom of the lineup, as well as some serious power in the heart of the order, led by Mission College sophomore first baseman Blake Billinger and Rochester (Minn.) Community College junior first baseman/designated hitter Anthony Rosario.
Billinger hit .347 with six home runs and 42 runs batted in during 40 games with the Saints.
On paper the Geckos look like a young team, but there is plenty of talent up and down the roster with a good mix of experience and leadership. How they come together quickly this summer will determine just how far they go in the Mountain West SCBL.
“I think the mix of different ages is going to be huge for us this year,” Gauna said. “Having those young guys around guys that have been in it, they’re going to learn a lot and learn it fast.”
The Geckos will kick off the season today at noon against Eagle Valley at Ron Patch Memorial Field in Carbondale. Glenwood will play doubleheaders Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday throughout the summer.
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A Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins mashup will host its grand opening at 700 Taugenbaugh Blvd. in Rifle on Friday morning. The opening will begin at around 11 a.m.