Varsity Extra

We don't have a Division I baseball team, but these Idahoans have a shot at an NCAA title

Gonzaga outfielder and cleanup hitter Branson Trube, a Mountain View High grad, rounds first base during the West Coast Conference baseball tournament last week in Stockton, Calif.
Gonzaga outfielder and cleanup hitter Branson Trube, a Mountain View High grad, rounds first base during the West Coast Conference baseball tournament last week in Stockton, Calif. West Coast Conference

College baseball’s 64-team national tournament kicks off Friday, and four Idaho natives will have a say on who advances to the College World Series.

Gonzaga’s Branson Trube and Nick Nyquist, Purdue’s Ryan Beard and Oregon State’s Jordan Britton graduated from Idaho high schools. And all four will take the field this weekend with the start of the NCAA Regionals.

The regionals operate as separate four-team, double-elimination brackets. The winner of each regional advances to the best-of-three super regionals. The eight super regional winners move on to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

Here are the four players carrying Idaho’s banner.

BRANSON TRUBE

College: Gonzaga

Position: Outfielder

Idaho tie: Mountain View High (2014 grad)

Regional: Minneapolis (Minnesota, Canisius, UCLA)

First game: vs. UCLA, noon MDT, Friday (ESPN3)

A three-time, first-team 5A Southern Idaho Conference selection, Trube didn’t break out until his senior season in Spokane. The senior center fielder hits cleanup for the Bulldogs (32-22), starting 53 of 54 games. He is hitting .287 with eight home runs and a team-high 36 RBIs, leading Gonzaga to a West Coast Conference tournament title. He hadn’t hit a home run for the Bulldogs until this season.

NICK NYQUIST

College: Gonzaga

Position: Infielder

Idaho tie: Coeur d’Alene High (2014 grad)

Regional: Minneapolis (Minnesota, Canisius, UCLA)

First game: vs. UCLA, noon MDT, Friday (ESPN3)

Gonzaga has used Idaho’s 2014 state player of the year as a weapon off the bench throughout the West Coast Conference tournament, pinch hitting and pinch running the junior late in games. He’s played in 30 games this season, including 14 starts, hitting .250 with one home run and nine RBIs.

RYAN BEARD

College: Purdue

Position: Left-handed pitcher

Idaho tie: Rocky Mountain High (2015 grad)

Regional: Chapel Hill, N.C. (North Carolina, North Carolina A&T, Houston)

First game: vs. Houston, 5 p.m. MDT, Friday (ESPN3)

After shining at the College of Southern Idaho and posting the lowest junior college ERA (0.84) in the country last season, Beard joined Purdue this year as its No. 3 starter. He’s gone 5-3 with a 4.26 ERA for the Boilermakers (37-19), helping them qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the third time in program history.

JORDAN BRITTON

College: Oregon State

Position: Left-handed pitcher

Idaho tie: Caldwell High (2015 grad)

Regional: Corvallis, Ore. (Northwestern State, San Diego State, LSU)

First game: vs. Northwestern State, 8:30 p.m. MDT, Friday (ESPNU)

The former 4A SIC Player of the Year continues to provide Oregon State (44-10-1), the No. 3 overall seed, depth and an arm that can both start and relieve. Britton is 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA in eight appearances this season, but he hasn’t pitched in a game since May 1.

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