Broussely, Macias, Magnaghi lead list with 1st Team honors
By: Jim Howell/GCU Club Sports Information Director
GCU Club Sports is proud to announce that nine members of the Grand Canyon University Club Baseball team have been named to the National Club Baseball Association (NCBA) Southern Pacific (SoPac) Region postseason teams. Lopes’ 1st baseman Zach Broussely (BROWZ-lee), 3rd baseman David Macias (muh-SEE-us) and outfielder Reid Magnaghi (REED munn-YAH-ghee) all earned spots on the SoPac Region’s 1st Team squad. Earning 2nd Team honors were Lopes’ 2nd baseman Taylor Brooks, shortstop Michael Doty (DOH-tee), outfielder Matt Dolewski (doh-LEV-skee), designated hitter Nate Downs and starting pitcher Joel Thomas; while fellow starting pitcher Jarrett McDonald rounded out GCU’s contingent on the squad with a 3rd Team selection. It’s the highest number of postseason selections the Lopes have received in their three seasons of NCBA participation. The announcements come just three weeks after the Lopes walked off the Ting Stadium turf in Holly Springs, North Carolina, after finishing 3rd in the nation at the NCBA Division I World Series.
In a season where Lopes’ Head Coach Rich Warnol had the luxury of an offense that seemed to have a different star step up, Zach Broussely was the team’s biggest offensive constant. Only four in the region hit over .500 for the year, and Broussely was out in front of everyone with a .533 average. The junior from Castle Rock, Colorado also led the league in several other categories, including hits (40), on-base percentage (.643) and slugging percentage (1.053). But what Broussely will be remembered for on a conference, region and national level in 2018 is his power. No one else in the SoPac South Conference even came close to his 10 home runs during the season. Broussely’s towering grand-slam homer in the championship round at the SoPac Regional Tournament helped power the Lopes to their first-ever regional title. Finally, the awards that GCU brought home from North Carolina included the NCBA’s DeMarini Longball Challenge, won convincingly by Broussely after the tournament’s third day.
Meanwhile, fellow Lopes’ junior David Macias took the 3rd base position and made it his own for GCU in 2018. The Sunrise Mountain High School alum from Peoria was the best-hitting third baseman in the region with a .354 batting average, and he also had 5 doubles and a triple. Macias’s bat shined in the postseason as well, contributing 7 hits and a .466 batting average during SoPac Regionals in Lancaster, California.
Whether he was hitting in the leadoff spot or the cleanup spot in the Lopes’ batting order, Lopes’ left fielder Reid Magnaghi was one of GCU’s clutch hitters all season long. Whether it was his speed, power, or a combination of both, the junior from Walla Walla, Washington was a constant pest for opposing pitchers. Magnaghi’s 34 runs batted in led the entire region, and his 9 hits at SoPac Regionals led the team. Magnaghi was 3rd on the team in batting average (.453, 4th SoPac South), but led the team in triples (4) and at-bats (86), and placed 2nd in doubles (9) and slugging percentage (.826).
Taylor Brooks became the official ‘table-setter’ for the Lopes by the end of the season. Brooks, who was teammates with Reid Magnaghi at Walla Walla Community College before they both joined the Lopes, spent much of the 2018 season as a utility man, playing middle infield as well as outfield for GCU. Once the postseason started, Brooks came alive, going 11-for-14 (a blistering .786 batting average) with 9 runs scored in regionals, and hitting a solo homer on the first pitch he saw in the NCBA World Series as the team’s leadoff hitter. Brooks finished 2nd on the team in hitting (.475) and triples (3).
Whenever Warnol spoke about the importance of his senior leaders, he always had Michael Doty in mind. The Lopes have only been on the NCBA Division I level for two years, and Doty has been a part of nearly every game as the Lopes’ starting shortstop during that time. The Tucson native was the team’s batting champion in 2017, and in 2018, was second only to Magnaghi in total at-bats (83). Doty was the epitome of Warnol’s running style for the team, leading GCU’s balanced stolen base attack with 9. Doty was also 2nd on the team in hits (28) and 3rd in RBI (24) while hitting .313 for the season.
There were plenty of freshmen on GCU’s 2018 team that showed leadership beyond their years, and one of those at the top of that list was Matt Dolewski. The native of Sammamish, Washington, secured the starting centerfield job early in the season, and never looked back. Dolewski was one of four Lopes that hit .400 or better (hitting exactly .400) in 2018, and he was the only Lope on a team that excelled in extra-base hits to hit in double figures in doubles (finishing tied for 1st in the SoPac Region with 11). Dolewski also finished 4th on the team in both hits (28) and RBI (23).
Speaking of underclassmen who emerged as leaders in 2018, Nate Downs’ sophomore campaign was one to remember this past season. The native of Fountain, Colorado, spent his year going back-and-forth between starting right fielder and designated hitter, and excelled no matter where he was. Even with only 45 at-bats, he gave opposing catchers fits once on base, stealing 8 bases (2nd on the team). Downs also hit .378 (5th-best on the squad) with a homer and 11 RBI.
With all of the focus on the Lopes’ balanced offense, it might’ve been easy to overlook the Lopes’ starting pitching rotation. Opponents that did paid the price for it, considering the Lopes didn’t lose a single three-game series in 2018. Setting the tone for that was freshman Joel Thomas, who was routinely the Lopes’ Game 1 starter for each series. Thomas was nearly flawless during his first season of college ball, allowing a total of just four earned runs in his seven regular season starts. Thomas’s lone loss of the year came at the first game of regionals, but the Horizon High School alum bounced back to win the Lopes’ first World Series game by throwing 5 1/3 innings of five-hit ball against the University of Wisconsin. Thomas finished the season with a 6-1 record, with a stellar 1.79 earned run average, striking out 43 while walking 23 in 45 1/3 innings.
Finally, Lopes’ senior Jarrett McDonald made sure that his final season in Lopes’ purple would be his most memorable. It wasn’t so much the fact that McDonald led the 2018 Lopes in wins with an 8-1 record, but more when and how those wins were accumulated. McDonald’s only loss of the season came in early March (at UC-San Diego), and from there, he only got better in clutch situations. It was McDonald who took the hill at Brazell Stadium in late April with the Lopes needing a win over Arizona State University to secure their first-ever conference title, and a five-hit performance over six innings by McDonald secured just that. At regionals, McDonald staved off elimination for GCU by eliminated top-seeded Chico State University with a complete-game win; then came in in relief less than 24 hours later to deliver five shutout innings to send the Lopes to nationals. Finally, in North Carolina, McDonald threw the gem of the tournament for the team, again eliminating the tournament’s top seed (University of Oregon) by firing a nine-inning complete-game victory, scattering six hits in the process. The native of Colorado Springs, Colorado finished with a 3.07 ERA for the year, leading the team in innings pitched (55 2/3 innings), strikeouts (41), starts (8) and complete games (4).
The Lopes finished the 2018 season with an overall record of 24 wins and 4 losses – the best record in the program’s history.