Griffons' Loza scrambles to put roster together

Will Loza

Four weeks.

That’s all the time new Nevada Griffons manager Will Loza had to assemble a roster ahead of the 2019 summer collegiate baseball season.

“Four weeks,” he said, shaking his head. “That’s not ideal.”

An assistant coach at Graceland University in Iowa, Loza replaces Ryan Mansfield, who spent 11 summers as Nevada’s manager.

Loza previously coached at Upper Iowa and has six years of experience with summer collegiate baseball, including a stint last summer as the hitting coach for the Thunder Bay Border Cats of the Northwoods League.

The Griffons originally hired Jacob Bryant in December. However, Bryant gave up the position in April, citing personal reasons.

After accepting the job, Loza had to scramble to put together a roster before the club converged on Nevada in late May.

“I’ve been involved with summer ball for six years, and usually, I’d accepted one of those positions in January,” Loza said. “It wasn’t stressful, but it was challenging. I’ve enjoyed making the calls to see what I can find. Really, the worst part has been turning away some position guys.”

Pitching depth is the Griffons’ biggest concern at this point.

“We’re very thin on the mound,” Loza said. “We have five pitchers. When you have four games in a row, you need four starters. We only have one guy who can go in relief. Then we have to go to our two-way guys.”

Loza, who hails from Montebello, California, noted many of his position players will be tasked with helping out on the mound at times because of the lack of depth.

“We have six of those guys,” Loza said. “When I took the job so late, I knew what I was getting myself into. There weren’t a lot of pitchers left that late. I went after every two-way guy I could find.

“As of now, we have one more guy on the way,” Loza said. “But he won’t be here until the middle of June. He’s a high school kid. I’m hoping he shows up. You never know.”

With the season now underway, Loza said he likes the makeup of this year’s roster.

“This group is really scrappy,” Loza said. “Our first game was the first action for some of the guys in a month and it showed. Our pitchers haven’t thrown live in a month. Our hitters will come around.”

The Griffons, in their 35th year, suffered a 16-3 loss to St. Joseph on Sunday night at Lyons Stadium after their season-opener was postponed because of weather one night earlier.

After a game in Jefferson City on Monday, the Griffons are scheduled to host Sedalia at 7 p.m. tonight.

“It was nice to see a lot of people come out Sunday, and we hope they come back out on Tuesday,” Loza said.

POST RECOGNIZED

The Nevada Griffons recognized Jeff Post before their home opener on Sunday night.

Post, a longtime Nevada resident who died in March, was a former general manager of the Griffons who had been the president of the MINK League the past five years.