Harmening, Gildea, Fukushima Honored by GSAC

Submitted by: Ron Smith - April 28th, 2014

 

(Top) Russell Harmening. (Bottom L-R) Brandon Gildea, Brent Fukushima

(Top) Russell Harmening. (Bottom L-R) Brandon Gildea, Brent Fukushima

Westmont sophomore Russell Harmening (11-3) of Oceanside has been honored as the Golden State Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year while seniors Brandon Gildea of Stockton and Brent Fukushima of Kaneohe, Hawaii have been named to the All-GSAC team as a catcher and second-baseman respectively. Harmening is the first Warrior to receive Pitcher of the Year honors in the conference’s 28-year history.

“This is a league with several top-quality starting pitchers and for Russell to receive this award is a tremendous accomplishment,” noted Westmont head coach Robert Ruiz. “Russell is a quiet humble competitor with an emphasis on the word ‘competitor’. He knows what he needs to do to have success and is never satisfied when it is not done right. He doesn’t get excited about getting away with a mistake – he wants to fix it. What that has surfaced as on the baseball field is a consistent starter.”

Harmening, who has been the pitcher of record for every game in which he appeared, posted a league-low ERA for both conference only games (2.24) and all games (2.11). His 11 wins tied for the best in the GSAC and his batting average against was also the lowest in the conference at .199 (conference only games) and .200 (all games).

“You credit the athlete for the hard work he has put in, but that work is under the guidance and direction of someone,” said Ruiz. “(Pitching) Coach Tony Cougoule’s role has been vital to Russell’s success.”

Gildea’s recognition on the All-GSAC team is the second in as many years. Gildea started all 50 games for the Warriors and produced a batting average of .367. His 69 hits included nine RBIs, two triples and five home runs. His 30 RBIs was second best on the team. Gildea notched a slugging percentage of .516 and an on base percentage of .408

“Brandon has been a rock for us,” said Ruiz. “He played three positions for us. He played third base for the first time in his life and did well. He pitched and picked up three saves. As a catcher, he’s an all-conference player for the second year in a row. I thought he was one of the better players in the GSAC.

“Brandon has consistently improved every year he has been here. Defensively, his arm strength is one of his biggest tools. This year he has improved at back-picking runners and he has developed his ability to block more consistently. Offensively, he has taken huge strides. It has been by far his best season.”

After a slow start to the season, Fukushima became one of the Warriors’ primary offensive weapons and a solid defensive component. He hit .336 for the year tallying seven doubles, three triples and three home runs among his 47 hits. Fukushima drove in 24 runs and scored 35 times.

“I am very excited about Brent being recognized as the All-GSAC second baseman,” said Ruiz. “He has played the last three years at shortstop. I called him last summer and told him I was thinking about moving him to second. He came into the season with an unbelievable attitude and never thought twice about it. Brent has worked to get better one day after the next. To see where he has come offensively and defensively is amazing and I’m glad that the conference has recognized it.”

Westmont, ranked at number 18 in the NAIA, will enter GSAC Tournament play on Thursday as the number four seed. The Warriors will take on top-seeded and seventh-ranked San Diego Christian (37-16) in the second game of the double-elimination tournament.

The Warrior’s produced a 34-16 record during the regular season to tie for the most wins in program history.