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Bronco Baseball Adds Five to 2015 Roster

Courtesy: WMU
Release: 11/14/2013
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KALAMAZOO, Mich.- Western Michigan baseball head coach Billy Gernon announced Wednesday that the Broncos will add five student-athletes to the 2015 season. Tanner Allison (Lansing, Mich./Portland High School), Josh Bays (Lake Orion, Mich./Lake Orion High School), Jake Drada (Chicago, Ill./St Rita High School), Peyton Gray (Columbus, Ind./Columbus East High School) and Evan Nelson (Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viejo High School) have signed National Letters of Intent to continue their academic and athletic careers at WMU.

“It goes without saying that we are extremely excited and optimistic about introducing these student-athletes as Western Michigan Broncos,” Gernon said. “The five newcomers have an opportunity to impact our program the minute they step on campus. Associate head coach Blaine McFerrin and recruiting coordinator Adam Piotrowicz did an outstanding job of assembling this great class of recruits and deserve a lot of credit for this quality group of young men electing to earn their college degrees and play baseball at Western Michigan University.

“We feel strongly that we added depth to the mound and more athleticism to an already athletic team. Our 2014 class was ranked 58th in the nation and I like this class just as much. The two words that best describe this class are projection and athleticism. These five guys are all hard workers, good students, proven winners and hard-nosed competitors. These guys are a great fit and I could not be more excited about them and their families joining our Bronco family.”


Below is a look at each of the incoming student-athletes:

Tanner Allison
Portland, Mich./Portland HS
6-3/190 • L/L • LHP/OF

Will be a four-year letterwinner under Coach John Davids at Portland High School ... ranked No. 7 player in state by and No. 7 by ... posted .492 batting average with 18 doubles, seven triples, one home run and 31 RBIs ... struck out 63 batters in 48.1 innings and compiled a 4-2 record ... first team all-conference, all-district, all-region and all-state selections in 2013 ... as quarterback, lead Portland to football state championship 12-9 over Grand Rapids West Catholic in 2012 ... tossed 96-yard touchdown pass which ranks third longest from scrimmage in Michigan High School Football history ... son of Kyle and Lisa Allison.

Gernon on Allison: “Tanner is an explosive 6-3, 185-lb multi-sport athlete that can do a lot of things on the baseball field. He has a remarkable left-handed stroke at the plate that can hit for average and power alongside being a very good left-handed pitcher. His velocity has been as high as 87-88 and his great frame and very clean arm action make him even more projectable. Tanner was the first commitment in this class and is a very good student, a proven winner and the kind of person you want representing your program.”

Josh Bays
Lake Orion, Mich./Lake Orion HS
6-2/200 • R/R • RHP

Helped lead Lake Orion High School and Coach Andy Schramek to record-setting 32-win season in 2013 including district and regional championship titles ... ranked No. 14 by and No.7 by ... struck out 53 batters in 42 innings pitched in 2013 for Lake Orion ... posted a 2.19 ERA with a 4-2 record and one save during junior campaign ... starting rotation since sophomore season ... will be three-year letterwinner in baseball, basketball and football ... starting wide receiver for football team that went 7-1 as well as starting forward on basketball team ... high school teammates with current Bronco middle infielder Nick Vogelmeier ... son of James and Julie Bays.

Gernon on Bays: “We knew our third recruiting class was going to be much smaller than our first two which raised the importance of adding not only quality arms, but impact arms. Josh aggressively attacks the strike zone and throws a lot of strikes. Bays will have an opportunity to pitch very early in his career thus addressing the need to have quality arms in this class. His fastball is firm and his command is excellent. Bays pitches down in the zone and glove side as well as any prep I have seen in a while. He possesses a very good breaking ball that could easily be a swing and miss pitch for him in college. Josh is another multi-sport athlete that has had success on the baseball field, the hardwood and the gridiron who brings physicality and athleticism to our team. He very easily could be an early contributor.”

Jake Drada
Chicago, Ill./St Rita HS
6-0/180 • R/R • INF

Will be three-year letterwinner under Coach Mike Zunica at St Rita High School ... St Rita has posted more wins than any other program in the state of Illinois since 2004 going 257-58 ... helped lead team to regional and Elite 8 championships ... St Rita has been nationally ranked eight of last nine years ... rated third best third baseman in Illinois by Perfect Game ... member of  Illinois Sparks travel team since 2007 ... Sparks currently have 11 former players in professional baseball ... member of Silver Honor Roll at St Rita ... mulit-sport athlete who played football as well ... son of Don and Anne Drada.

Gernon on Drada: “Jake has as much offensive potential as anyone I have ever signed. He has lightning bat speed and can hit for power in both gaps while having a very sound and fundamental swing. Defensively, he is versatile and can play the corners both in the infield and the outfield. Jake possesses solid arm strength and is sharp on the bases as well. I like the preparation and competition Drada has been exposed to both in high school and with his travel club. Both organizations are highly respected, very successful, and have experienced winning at a high level.”

Photo by Leverne Sorrells Photography

Peyton Gray
Columbus East, Ind./Columbus East HS
6-4/220 • R/R • RHP

Will be a four-year letterwinner under Coach John Gratz at Columbus East High School ... posted a 1.31 ERA with a .96 WHIP ... recorded 54 strikeouts in 42.2 innings pitched ... issued only 12 walks ... team Most Valuable Player 2013 ... ranked No. 36 in the state of Indiana by ... team captain ... three-year varsity letter winner in basketball ... team captain of Columbus East Bowling team... has bowled several 300 perfect scores ... honor roll and member of National Honors Society ... son of Bill and Lisa Gray.

Gernon on Gray: “Peyton is another tremendous athlete in this recruiting class. At 6-4, 220 lbs, he has as much upside as anyone in the class and possibly anyone I have ever coached. We have watched his velocity continue to climb over the last two years and with his remarkable size and frame it would be an understatement to say I am excited to see what level Gray might go to in another year. He has improved so much since last year and is starting to rack up strike outs while nearly eliminating walks.  Peyton is extraordinarily projectable and I am excited to continue to watch him develop, especially when his focus turns to only one sport.”


Photo by Action Sports Photography

Evan Nelson
Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viejo HS
6-3/190 • L/R • OF

Will be three-year letterwinner under Coach Chris Ashbach ... hit .312 for the Diablos with nine doubles and two triples ... led team with three home runs ... posted 20 RBIs ... selected second team all-league in the South Coast League ... played for Orioles scout team in the Arizona Fall Classic held in Phoenix ... son of Bart and Karen Nelson.

Gernon on Nelson: “Evan is a tremendous athlete with a tireless work ethic. We first saw him at the Arizona Fall Classic and knew right away he was what we were looking for just based on his athleticism and great left-handed stroke. He plays in the South Coast League which is one of the most competitive conferences in the state of California. Nelson has plus arm strength that has been clocked as high as 90 mph from the outfield. His 6-3 long, wirey, athletic body makes him very projectable and his commitment to excellence makes his ceiling invisible. We are graduating a few outfielders in 2014 and Evan definitely addresses this need for our program.”