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RiverHawks sign former Rockford College star

Thursday, January 08, 2009  
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WREX.com
Posted January 8, 2009 @ 6:10 p.m.
 
LOVES PARK, Ill. - Fabian Gomez will return to the Road Ranger Stadium mound he dominated as a pitcher at Rockford College.

The Rockford RiverHawks announced Thursday that they have signed the former Regent to a contract. Gomez was the Northern Athletics Conference Player of the Year and a NCAA Division III All-American in 2007 with Rockford College, which plays its home schedule and conference tournament at the RiverHawks' stadium. He is also a former Oakland Athletics farmhand.

"I'm happy that he's coming here, because he had other options independent(-league) wise," said RiverHawks manager Bob Koopmann, who is also the head coach at Rockford College. Koopmann coached Gomez in the left-hander's lone season with the Regents.

"He'll be pitching on the same mound he was in college - now he'll have to go 8-0 like he did in college," Koopmann joked.

In 2007, Koopmann's first year as the head coach of the Regents, Gomez pitched the team to the inaugural NAC tournament title. Not only did Gomez go undefeated in 14 appearances, but he led Division III baseball with 123 strikeouts, walked just 28 and recorded a 1.93 earned-run average. Gomez won the NAC pitching triple crown - wins, strikeouts and ERA. Website d3baseball.com named him an All-American and the American Baseball Coaches Association named him to All-Central Region first team.

Gomez struck out a school-record 18 that March against Dominican and in May struck out 13 in a shutout of Marian College in the NAC tournament opener. It turned out to be the junior's final appearance for the Regents.

The A's picked Gomez in the 31st round of the 2007 draft. He was 5-3 with a 6.87 ERA, 39 strikeouts and 30 walks over 57 2/3 innings in two seasons with Vancouver of the short-season Class A Northwest League. Just two of his 37 career appearances have been as a starter.

"Sometimes when you're out of the bullpen, you have one or two bad outings and they make your whole season look not so great," Koopmann said. "What was probably surprising to me is that his walks-to-innings (ratio) was not what it was in college. But I think he's the kind of pitcher who will get better the more he gets regular work. That doesn't mean he'll necessarily be a starter, but he needs to work longer outings."

Gomez still holds Rockford College's single-season strikeout record and is tied for the single-season win mark. Gomez also pitched junior-college ball in the region, at Illinois Valley Community College and Highland College.

The 24-year-old is a native of New Mexico. He has Rookie-2 status in the Frontier League.
This article appeared at http://www.wrex.com/global/story.asp?s=9642428 on January 8, 2009.

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