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From one pack of Wolves to another

Yrigoyen signs with Division I Nevada Reno

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From one pack of Wolves to another

University of Nevada at Reno-bound Garrett Yrigoyen, a Sierra High graduate, poses with his mother, Barbara, and father, David, Tuesday at home in Manteca.

BRANDON PETERSEN/The Bulletin


POSTED August 5, 2009 2:55 a.m.
It’s not easy to find 2007 Sierra High graduate Garrett Yrigoyen doing much of anything without a smile on his face.

Fortunately, that task is even more difficult now.

After starting all 54 games at third base for Delta College in 2009, a season that saw the Mustangs make an eye-opening run to the California Junior College State championship game, Yrigoyen was at a team party hosted by Delta head coach Reed Peters when he received a phone call that would change his life.

On the other end of the line was University of Nevada Reno associate head coach Stan Stolte. Stolte had seen the Mustangs during their historical run and asked Yrigoyen to take a trip to Reno for a campus visit.

“Two days later, I was in Reno,” Yrigoyen said. “I liked the school, I liked everything about the program and their third baseman was leaving.”

Enough said.

Yrigoyen found a home, and the NCAA Division I Wolf Pack found their future third baseman.

The 6-foot, 2-inch Yrigoyen will enter Nevada as an academic junior and a sophomore on the diamond, and is planning on pursuing a degree in pharmacy.

But Yrigoyen’s goals don’t stop there.

Currently, there are nine Nevada alumni playing Major League Baseball, including Toronto’s Lyle Overbay, Arizona’s Chad Qualls, the Mets’ Ryan Church and San Diego’s Kevin Kouzmanoff.

“I want to get bigger; I’m at 190 now,” Yrigoyen said. “I want to be at 205, get faster and develop my game. The goal is to get drafted before it’s all said and done.”

Stolte and Nevada head coach Gary Powers were interested in Yrigoyen’s services primarily because of his reputation as a brick wall at third with a powerful and accurate arm.

But Yrigoyen is also a gifted hitter, as well.

Last season, Yrigoyen raked at a .271 clip with 54 hits, 32 runs scored and 30 RBIs, while turning in five doubles, a triple, a home run and 64 total bases.

Perhaps more impressive was Yrigoyen’s discipline at the plate. The third baseman struck out just 17 times in 214 plate appearances, tied for the lowest amount by any Delta every day starter.

Besides the opportunity to play in the Western Athletic Conference against the likes of Boise State, Hawaii, Fresno State and San Jose State, Yrigoyen was impressed with Nevada’s facilities and the position the university puts its student-athletes in: To succeed.

“All the downtown casinos light up at night and you can see them in the background from the ballpark,” Yrigoyen said. “They have brand new athletic facilities, and study centers for academics if you need any tutoring or help with anything.”

Yrigoyen isn’t penciled in as the starting third baseman just yet, he’ll have to compete for a spot, which he is looking forward to, but with 11 seniors graduating from Nevada in 2009 the opportunity to play right away is present and promising.

“I didn’t expect (to be recruited to a Division I school),” Yrigoyen said. “I visited Stanislaus State, which is D-II, and I got a couple of calls from a couple of schools back east that were D-II as well. I thought I was going to play another year at Delta.”

Yrigoyen credits Delta for the opportunity to move on to Nevada. The Mustangs have sent 10 players off the 2009 roster on to major college baseball, but that may not have been possible had Delta not made it to the state championship.

“We definitely wouldn’t have gotten as many looks,” Yrigoyen said. “It was a great choice for me to go there before anywhere else. Division I and Division II coaches like experience sometimes, rather than just players that are coming out of high school.

“Why would you want to redshirt (at a four-year), when you can go to Delta, play an entire season and then come back out?”

Yrigoyen credits his father, David, for helping him with the fundamentals of the game early on, as well as Sierra coaches Greg Wilson, Richard Boyd and Jack Thomson for developing his game at the high school level.

“(Going to Sierra) helped me out a lot,” Yrigoyen said “When I got to Delta, the transition was easy because Sierra runs its program the exact same way. It was just a little more fast-paced.

“I was fortunate to have (Wilson, Boyd and Thomson) as coaches.”

And now the Yrigoyen and Timberwolf families have one more reason to smile.
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