Zach Gallagher is making the most of his opportunity to pitch at the collegiate level — more than 4,000 miles from where he originally expected to be playing this spring.
After two seasons at Columbia Basin College in Pasco that included honors as Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges baseball Most Valuable Player a year ago, Gallagher signed to play at Indiana State.
When the coach for whom he expected to be playing left the Sycamores for the University of Washington, the Camas High School graduate sought and was granted release from his letter of intent.
Following the coach to Seattle did not work out, but Gallagher’s scholarship release gave him the opportunity again to find the best fit.
“It was actually a little bit of a crazy process,” he said.
And really, who wouldn’t want to go to Hawai’i?
The Warriors came through an offer Gallagher could not refuse, and the junior right-hander is off to a 3-1 start.
“I just came in not really having a set role,” Gallagher said. “It was something that I had to work for, and just basically come in and pitch — keep doing the same things I was doing before and see if I could help the team. I definitely had confidence in my stuff. I just needed to put it all together and be ready to face metal bats again.”
While NWAACC baseball teams play with wood bats, Gallagher said the transition has not been difficult.
“It really hasn’t made that much difference to me,” he said. “I sort of just kept doing the same things as before, and it’s enabled me to be successful.”
Gallagher is third on the team with an earned run average of 3.74. In 21⅔ innings, he has allowed 10 runs — nine earned — on 28 hits with 11 strikeouts and six walks.
At 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, Gallagher relies more on pitch location than velocity.
“I’m definitely more of a location guy,” he said. “I’m not the kind of pitcher who’s going to blow it past anybody, so I really need to locate all my pitches at any time. Everyone’s most important pitch is their fastball and where they can pitch it, so my biggest thing is to get ahead in the count by locating the fastball early, and then go into my off-speed stuff like my breaking ball and changeup to try to get outs.”
Gallagher started the season in the bullpen before earning three starts in a two-week span. He took a loss in his first start, at home against Southern California, then picked up two victories on the team’s California road trip, March 24 at Cal State Long Beach and March 29 at the University of San Diego. He picked up a third win in relief last weekend against Gonzaga.
“The big thing with starting is that you know when you’re going to be throwing,” he said. “It makes it easier, I guess, to prepare throughout the week because say if I’m starting on Sunday, I know I can do my lifting routine on this, this and this day so I have time to let my body recover and get stronger, then I’m able to know which days I’m able to throw long toss and bullpen.
“With relief, you have to kind of take it back a notch and maybe not do as much lifting or as much throwing, because you don’t know what day you’re going to go in because it all depends on how the starters do.”
His role is somewhat up in the air, but with a few regular Hawai’i starters battling minor arm trouble, Gallagher expects to get a start this week when the Warriors open Western Athletic Conference play with a home series against defending champion Fresno State. Hawai’i is 16-12 after a brutal nonconference schedule Gallagher said has been ranked among the toughest in the country.
While he may be now living and playing in an island paradise, Gallagher is not on a Hawai’ian vacation.
“It’s definitely something I was excited about, but it’s not too hard when it comes to school, just because I’m so busy with baseball that I don’t have every day to go to the beach,” he said. “I have to try to keep my grades in order.”
Miller tops ISU’s career hit parade
Idaho State senior center fielder Megan Miller became the Bengals’ all-time career hits leader Monday during a nonconference doubleheader swep of the University of Great Falls.
The Columbia River High School graduate replaced Chris Shoemaker atop the ISU record book with a fourth inning triple in the Bengals’ 16-1 romp in the opener. She also started a three-run seventh inning comeback in the nightcap, a 6-5 victory.
Miller was 1 for 2 in the first game with two walks, driving in two runs and scoring three. She was 1 for 3 in the second game with a walk, scoring a run and finishing the day with 124 career hits as a Bengal.
Idaho State (6-21) snapped a 10-game skid with the sweep, gathering momentum heading into its first weekend of conference play since the program reformed in 2007.
Shoemaker had 122 hits from 1978-81 and held the record for 29 years, counting the 23-year break in the program. Miller’s record breaking hit came in career game 102, while Shoemaker’s came in 104 games.
Idaho State plays a Pacific Coast Softball Conference doubleheader Saturday at the University of Seattle.
Klettke qualifies for 1,500 at nationals
Lewis-Clark State College sophomore Kelsey Klettke ran an automatic qualifying time for the NAIA track and field championships by winning the 1,500 meters at the Sam Adams Classic held Saturday at Whitworth University in Walla Walla. Klettke, a Prairie High School graduate, set an LCSC record with her time of 4 minutes, 45.80 seconds.
NAIA nationals will be held May 27-29 at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion.
Klettke ran in the NAIA cross country national champoinships held in November in Vancouver.
EWU’s Wall garners Big Sky honors
Eastern Washington sophomore Brad Wall was named Big Sky Conference men’s track athlete of the week.
The Evergreen High School graduate posted the conference’s second best 400-meter time of the season and won the event at the Al Manuel Invitational hosted by the University of Montana in Missoula, Mont.
Wall’s altitude-adjusted time of 48.45 puts him 53rd in the West Region. The top 48 results will advance to Austin, Texas, for the regional meet on May 27-29.
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