PUEBLO, Colo. (February 2, 2017) – Colorado State University-Pueblo Baseball will take the field for the first time in 2017 when they host Emporia State University Friday at 1 p.m. at Rawlings Field in their season opener.
The Pack will try to improve on last season's 28-19 record. CSU-Pueblo won the RMAC's Plain Division in 2016. Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference coaches predicted that the Pack would finish second in the conference this year.
One of CSU-Pueblo's strengths appears to be its pitching staff. The ThundWolves return three starters. Four relievers also return for the Pack including closer, Josh Nuernberg (Sr., Las Vegas, Nev.), who was named Preseason All-RMAC. Nuernberg finished 2016 with a 3.90 ERA in 30 innings. He also recorded four saves.
On opening day, the Pack will turn to Kyle Peeler (Sr., Las Vegas, Nev.) to start their season on the mound. Peeler also earned Preseason All-RMAC accolades and claimed a spot on the RMAC's All-Tournament Team. He posted a 5.09 ERA in 10 starts in 2016.
Cameron Weinberg (Sr., San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) will start Saturday night's game for the Pack. Weinberg, like Nuernberg and Peeler, received Preseason All-RMAC honors. He led the Pack with 65 strikeouts. Weinberg's 3.64 ERA and 76.2 Innings pitched also led Pack starters. He only allowed three home runs in 2016.
Offensively, the Pack will have a new look. With their top five run producers gone, the ThunderWolves will have to manufacture runs in new ways. Only two starters remain from the Pack's offense that led the conference in average and home runs.
One of those starters is Brandon Castaneda (Sr., Azusa, Calif.) who will make the move from second base to shortstop in 2017. Castaneda received Preseason Second Team All-Region honors from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. He batted .327 in 45 games a season ago. Castaneda ranked second on the Pack with 24 walks drawn. He also recorded a .968 fielding percentage.
Gilbert Sauceda (So., Indio, Calif.) also returns for CSU-Pueblo after starting all 47 games as a freshman. He earned a Preseason All-RMAC honors. Like Castaneda, he will also switch positions in 2017 relocating from left field to first base. Sauceda hit .368 and posted a .442 on base percentage. He scored 31 runs and drove in 27.
Five newcomers are expected to crack the starting lineup Friday. Outfielders Derron Davis (Sr., Las Vegas, Nev.), Jorge Duarte (Jr., San Luis, Ariz.), and Zach Hoffman (Jr., South Jordan, Utah) will make their Pack debuts Friday along with designated hitter Jake Boyd (Salt Lake City, Utah). Central Michigan University transfer Charles Steele (Encino, Calif.) will man third base.
The ThunderWolves and the Hornets will continue their season-opening series Saturday at 1 p.m. The Pack and Hornets will wrap up opening week with a game Sunday at 12 p.m.
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As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.