Friday, May 10, 2013

Where the H-Cats and the Antelope play

Brandon Smith
A pair of our HarbourCats have been playing significant roles this spring for the Grand Canyon University (GCU) Antelopes, yet they have somehow still received minimal attention on this blog. It’s time to rectify that situation.

Brandon Smith is a speedy, 6’ 3” outfielder who was drafted out of high school by the Washington Nationals in the 15th round of last June’s MLB draft. The Irvine, California native chose to play NCAA baseball instead of signing with the Nats, and the freshman has gone on to post solid numbers this season. Smith has started 40 of the team’s 50 games, posting a .286 batting average with a homer and 23 RBI in 133 at-bats. He has also swiped 9 bases in 11 attempts, but don’t be surprised to see him post even higher stolen base numbers this summer. Smith stole 21 bases in only 77 at-bats in his senior year of high school.

Kevin Behnke
Kevin Behnke, a right-handed relief pitcher with closer potential, pitched for Mesa Community College before transferring to GCU last fall for his junior year. Although he struggled in his last four games, Behnke still has a decent 3.43 ERA in 17 relief appearances. He has also notched four of the team’s 12 saves and has held opponents to a .266 batting average. The highlight of his season so far has to be being named PacWest Pitcher of Week for March 18-24 after notching three saves in close to 24 hours during a road trip in Hawaii. Behnke played shortstop in high school and has less experience on the mound than many other pitchers his age, but if he can improve his control and cut down on the walks (6 BB/9 IP with the Antelopes) then he could play a prominent role in the HarbourCats’ bullpen.

The Antelopes wrapped up their regular season on May 4th, finishing with a 34-16 record overall and a 26-10 mark in conference play. On Sunday, they will find out if they have qualified for the regionals, which will begin on May 16th. GCU has a good chance at advancing to the six-team tournament after being ranked 5th in the West Region in the most recent NCAA poll.

  • The GCU Antelopes are coached by former Major Leaguer Andy Stankiewicz, who played for the Yankees, Expos, Astros and Diamondbacks in the 1990’s. 
  • Outfielder Austin Russell is back home in Victoria after wrapping up his season with the Southern Polytechnic Hornets.
  • The HarbourCats recently released pitcher Art Vidrio of the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos, bringing the number of Gauchos on the Victoria squad down to two -- Robby Nesovic and Connor Baits. Vidrio has not appeared in any games this season for the Gauchos. The HarbourCats roster now stands at 28 players.
  • There are only 25 more days until Opening Day for the HarbourCats. If you don’t already have your tickets for the opening series, get them now at

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