May 8, 2016, 7:18 p.m. MDT
Morache sets his dreams high and is now Dixie State’s undisputed leader
By Justin Giles
The Spectrum & Daily News
For the past two years, Dixie State head baseball coach Chris Pfatenhauer has written one name at the top of his batting lineup — Tanner Morache.
“It’s been nice having him these last couple of years,” Pfatenhauer said with a smile. “He’s meant so much to this program, and it’s why we named him our Most Valuable Player at our recent sports banquet the university puts on every year.”
The senior from Vancouver, British Columbia, has become the undisputed team leader because of his constant focus and dedication to the game.
Despite not naming team captains at the start of the season, Morache has become the undisputed team leader, a role he didn’t expect to have but has since taken on that role.
“I’m not a big vocal guy that go around and gets the team going by any means. I just like to lead by example and just do everything the right way,” Morache said of his role.
“We designed it that way so that players could establish themselves as leaders,” Pfatenhauer said. “Tanner has become that guy because of his example on and off the field and because of his his work ethic.”
First, he was undersized and because of that, was cut several times by coaches who overlooked him.That example and determination has come in handy for the Canadian who has had to overcome many obstacles to get to where he is today.
Another big obstacle that he had to overcome was that he was from Canada, which meant that his high school didn’t even have a baseball team. Morache was forced to play on a club team as he worked toward his dream of playing baseball at the next level.
“I never liked being told that I was too small,” Morache said. “I definitely used that as motivation to get to where I am today.”
Because he couldn’t change his small frame, Morache had to out-work everyone else in order to play at a high level.
And after years of hard work, one coach finally started to take notice.
“It’s hard enough to get noticed as a player in the United States, but it’s even trickier for somebody coming from a different country,” Pfatenhauer said of the recruiting process. “But once we saw him, there was no question that he could play and have a big impact for us.”
After putting up impressive numbers during his two years at the College of Southern Idaho — where Dixie State heavily recruits — Pfatenhauer was sold after watching Morache participate at the Junior College All-Star game.
And although Morache has continued to put up big numbers during his time at Dixie State, the senior was bitten by the injury bug right before his first season as a Trailblazer.
Morache ended up needing surgery to clean up some cartilage in his knee, but when he awoke, was given some bad news. Although the surgery went fine, doctors — while under the knife — found that he had an ACL tear. And because of that, Morache had to sit out during the entire 2014 season.
“That was tough, but at the same time, it was a blessing because I gained a lot of experience with the team and what it’s like at the Division II level.”
That experience has come in handy for the Trailblazers as the Canadian has put up some very impressive numbers over the past two seasons.
The shortstop is currently batting .384 and has an on-base percentage of .437. He has 156 hits, 76 RBIs, 49 multi-hit games and recently set DSU’s single-season hits record at 74. Morache currently has 83 hits on the season and has at least two more games to play with West Regional play starting May 19.
And thanks to his record-breaking year, Morache has also helped the 13th-ranked Trailblazers set a school record for wins in a season (38), with a shot at even hosting the West Regional.
While baseball players are notorious for superstitions, Morache might have topped them all. After admitted to having a number of good luck charms, Morache opened up about several of them.
Other than shaving his face the night before a game, Morache isn’t quite as superstitious as he was growing up.
“I got the name stinky because of it,” Morache said laughing. “But hey, we were winning games so that’s all that mattered.”For much of the season, Morache wore his dirty — but very lucky — baseball pants as the team continued to win games.“My dad loves to bring up the story that I didn’t wash my pants during my little league games,” Morache said of his childhood superstitions. “We had two pairs of pants, and we were supposed to turn the dirty ones in and wear the clean ones for the next game, but I didn’t always do that.”
In 2005, Morache got the honor of representing Canada in the Little League World Series where he went up against his former Trailblazer teammate Yuto Kata.
“Yuto was playing for Japan, and they beat us pretty good,” Morache recalled.
Despite the beating, Morache and Kata quickly became friends over a nice game of ping pong.
“Yuto was their second baseman, and he was also their leadoff hitter, too, so we had those things in common,” Morache added. “But it was still a lot of fun, and it was nice being on the same team as him this time around. It was fun to joke about those days, too.”
Canada ended up finishing sixth while Japan finished fourth that year.
Despite playing on national television and helping his team to a sixth-place finish in the Little League World Series, coaches and recruiters still weren’t knocking on his door.
“Tanner is amazing, and we love having him on our team,” junior outfielder Trey Kamachi said after practice. “He really leads by example and is someone that I definitely look up to and respect.”
“Luckily, CSI gave me a chance, and I didn’t’ know what to expect, but things worked out which allowed me to come and finish my college career at DSU for which I’m grateful for,” Morache said. “These last three years have really been some of the best years of my life.”
When asked what his favorite moment has been throughout his time at DSU, Morache didn’t hesitate one bit before bringing up his game-winning walk-off grand slam in a dramatic 9-6 victory over Saint Martin’s earlier this season. The victory also capped a perfect 10-0 season-opening homestand for the Trailblazers for the program’s best overall start in the program’s NCAA Division II era.
“I’m not a big power hitter usually so that was kind of surprising,” Morache said of his grand slam. “But I’m glad it happened, and it’s something that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”
Follow Justin Giles on Twitter @Justingiles22