Sports

Pack baseball inks help, Pueblo players

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The Colorado State University-Pueblo baseball team has added nine new players for the 2009 season, included two former Pueblo-area high school standouts, Tony Pechek (Pueblo South HS, Pueblo, Colo.), and Zach Hoffman (Pueblo West HS, Pueblo West, Colo.).

One of the finest baseball players to ever come out of Pueblo, South graduate Pecheck has transferred to CSU-Pueblo from Division I Creighton to play catcher for the Pack. Pechek, who was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2005 out of South, played for one season at Division I Wichita State before transferring to Central Arizona College in 2007. After graduating from CAC, Pecheck transferred to Creighton, where he started 18 games for the Bluejays. Against D-I pitching, Pechek hit .203 with two homers and 14 RBI in 74 at bats.

Hoffman, a grad of Pueblo West High School, is a year removed from his days at Trinidad State Junior College, where he hit a team best .340 in 2007, knocking in 43 runs and firing five homers in 156 at bats. Hoffman will get some looks in the outfield for the Pack.

“We’re excited to add Tony and Zach to our team this year,” Pack coach Stan Sanchez said. “Both are talented and get the bat on the ball, and will really help to shore up our ball club.”

The seven remaining players in the Pack’s latest wave of signings include players from all over the west, including Venezuela native Juan Martinez (Overland HS; Caricuao, Venezuela/Denver, Colo.), a graduate of Overland High School in Denver. Martinez played junior college ball at Arapahoe Junior College before the school’s athletic programs were cut in 2004, and caught the eye of Sanchez playing summer ball in Pueblo.

“He can throw in the low 90s and hit for power,” Sanchez said, “and he did a real good job this summer. He has a chance to make a big impact with us.”

The ThunderWolves scored three recruits from Edmonds Community College in Lynwood, Wash., who helped the team to the championship in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges. Pitcher Tyler Rice (Gig Harbor HS, Gig Harbor, Wash.), Edmonds’ top arm, joins the Pack after posting an 8-1 record at Edmonds.

“He has a real chance of being a Friday night guy for us,” Sanchez said. “He’s got a live arm and we’re expecting big things out of him.”

Joining Rice at CSU-Pueblo are Reid Dehnert (Kent HS, Kentlake, Wash.) and Daniel Ninomiya (Woodinville HS, Woodinville, Wash.). Ninomiya was the Tritons’ top player in the NWWAAC tournament, earning MVP honors, while Dehnert, a graduate of Kentlake High School in Kent, Wash., will join high school teammate, Rutger Bovard, on the Pack roster.

“All three of these guys have proven that they know how to win,” Sanchez said, “and they help to make our team immediately better.”

Rounding out the Pack’s latest crop of signees are San Bernardino Valley College (Calif.) transfer, Dominick Guerrero (Kaiser HS, Fontana, Calif.), one of the nation’s top high school home run hitters, Daniel Tate (Bradshaw Mountain HS, Prescott Valley, Ariz.), out of Bradshaw Mountain High School in Arizona, and Daniel Romero (Desert View HS, Tucson, Ariz.), a South Mountain Community College (Ariz.) graduate.

Tate, a Prescott Valley, Ariz. native, finished third in the nation with 16 home runs in just 108 at bats, hitting nearly .400. Tate, who can play outfield and first base, has a shot to become a rare player at CSU-Pueblo: one who can start for four seasons in a Pack program that is historically rich in primarily junior college transfers.

“He worked out for us, and he showed he can definitely lift the ball,” Sanchez said. “He’s one of the top players from Arizona, and we’re thrilled that he will be coming here.”

Romero, one of South Mountain’s top arms, helped the Cougars to 35 wins in 2008. Romero went 5-2 with a 1.81 ERA, striking out 66 batters in just 54 innings. Earlier this season, Romero was named the NJCAA national player of the week after a 13-strikeout performance against Yavapai Community College.

Guerrero, meanwhile, a workhorse starter at SBVC, made 10 starts in 2008.

The latest group of nine signees ups the Pack’s 2009 class to 19 new signees, one of the biggest and best classes Sanchez has had in his 15 years at CSU-Pueblo.