BASEBALL: Gavilan catcher signs with Division I program

Gavian's Tyler Oertle dives in safely around the Hartnell catcher to score the Rams' first run Monday afternoon at home.

Gavilan College sophomore Tyler Oertle’s approach to the 2012 season is validated in a First-Team Coast Conference Pacific Division selection. It is best described, however, by the catcher himself.

“I think it was just the hard work and dedication and the fact that I had experience from last year playing so much,” Oertle said Monday. “Knowing what to expect and going with what I have – playing like every game was my last.”

March 10 could have very well been Oertle’s last at Gavilan. Though he didn’t know it at the time, Oertle suffered a broken thumb against Monterey Peninsula College that day. He played 14 more games for the Rams baseball team, before having to sit out the games of the season after receiving the proper diagnosis on his bum thumb.

That displayed sturdiness backs up another adage of sorts to which he adheres.

“I’d rather have to earn something then have something given to me,” he said.

What Oertle earned at the conclusion of a season in which he hit .338 and had 13 RBIs in 19 conference games (.330 in 30 games overall) is a scholarship to play at Division I University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff – a dream come true for the Santa Teresa High (San Jose) product.

“I was reflecting back on the season I had and trying to figure out if was able to go (Division I) or (Division II),” Oertle said. “Just getting an opportunity to go somewhere after this was pretty much what I was looking forward to. I never thought I’d have the opportunity to play Division I, and now I do. So I’m pretty pumped.”

Oertle received a call from Arkansas-Pine Bluff representatives after the season, and about three phone conversations later, Oertle, who was also being courted by the University of Pikeville in Kentucky, received the offer that swayed him.

“Since I was a kid my dream has been to play Division I and get a chance to play in Omaha (Nebraska) and the College World Series,” Oertle said. “The opportunity for that just felt better with them, and I already know a bunch of guys who are at Pine Bluff.”

The Golden Lions are a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Oertle is the second Rams player, so far, to receive a scholarship from a Division I program this year. Starting pitcher, and one of Oertle’s battery mates this spring, Chris Bradley is headed to New Mexico State in the fall.

“(Tyler) is really excited to spread his wings, see a different part of the country and meet some new baseball players,” Gavilan manager Neal Andrade said. “Two in one year – it’s been a while since we’ve had one. And we are still trying to place some of our other guys.”

• Recently, Chris Bradley was named to the California Community College Athletic Association’s All-American list and fellow pitcher Shea Adams receiving a bid to the All-Northern California team. Also, volleyball standout Emily Tonascia signed her letter of intent to play at Menlo College on Monday.

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