Outfielder Nick Upstill attempts to take a home run away during a baseball game between the SF State Gators and the CSU Pueblo Thunderwolves at Maloney field in San Francisco, Calif., on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023. The Gators won 6-3 to sweep the Thunderwolves in four games (Aaron Levy-Wolins/Golden Gate Xpress). (Aa)
Outfielder Nick Upstill attempts to take a home run away during a baseball game between the SF State Gators and the CSU Pueblo Thunderwolves at Maloney field in San Francisco, Calif., on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023. The Gators won 6-3 to sweep the Thunderwolves in four games (Aaron Levy-Wolins/Golden Gate Xpress).

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Two SF State baseball players commit to Division I schools in Southern California

Nick Upstill and Gary Grosjean played their final game together as teammates in May and now look to advance their careers as D1 athletes

June 24, 2023

Two star San Francisco State University baseball players have recently committed to Division I schools in Southern California.

Nick Upstill, SFSU’s male athlete of the year and All-CCAA first team, has committed to playing at Pepperdine University, while Gary Grosjean, an honorable mention for All-CCAA honors, has committed to playing at CSU Bakersfield. Both players seek the opportunity to take their skills to new heights in hopes of being drafted by an MLB organization.

The 2022-2023 season for SFSU was the winningest season under head coach Tony Schifano and the team’s best performance since 2004 with a record of 27-22. That ranked them as fifth in both the NCBWA and NCAA West Region. They qualified for the CCAA tournament but fell short in their first matchup against Cal Poly Pomona.

Upstill led the Gators in key offensive categories such as batting average (.367), hits (69), runs (36) and triples (9) –– he also became the university’s all-time triples leader when he ripped his 12th career triple on May 8. Upstill ultimately chose Pepperdine as his next destination because of its strong psychology department and proximity to home. He is originally from Huntington Beach in Southern California, just 60 miles from Pepperdine University.

“It feels great to have a school that wants to invest in me as a player and as a student,” Upstill said. “I’m going to treat this the same way I treated San Francisco State where I’m going to go in there humble and excited for the opportunity and excited to get better as a player.”

Upstill is thrilled to play with a new group of teammates and coaches but is sad to leave his SFSU friends. When asked about Grosjean, he mentioned how their friendship has grown over the past few years of playing together. They both played together for the Portland Pickles in 2022, a collegiate summer league team that plays in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia.

“That whole summer experience with Gary really drew me and him closer as friends because that’s where I got a chance to really get to be close to him and just play more baseball,” Upstill said. “Now I can say Gary’s actually really one of my close friends and will get to be friends forever.”

Grosjean was one of the team’s pitchers and posted a 5.40 earned run average during the season, placing second on the team in strikeouts with 60. His career total of 128 strikeouts currently ranks him 11th most in the school’s history. Grosjean started his collegiate career playing at Upper Iowa University before transferring back to California at Mendocino College.

Grosjean is originally from Truckee, California, and chose SF State due to his love for visiting Giants and 49ers games as a kid. In 2022, Grosjean was named Pitcher of the Year at SF State.

Grosjean recently committed to CSU Bakersfield because playing Division I Baseball was one of his childhood dreams. He is confident that the school will help elevate his skills in hopes of playing professionally.

“I talked to Bakersfield and had probably an hour phone call. They told me they wanted me to come see the campus and were very serious,” Grosjean said. “I also received phone calls from other schools like UNLV and TCU, and those schools definitely might still be interested in me, but what they’re searching for might not be certain, so I kind of made my decision based on where I felt like I was a priority.”

Grosjean believes he can succeed and become a starting pitcher at CSU Bakersfield. He’s also planning on networking in Southern California to possibly become a pitching coach for kids in the future.

When asked about the potential matchup against Upstill, Grosjean said it’s “heartbreaking,” but he’s also very excited to see his friend again.

“It’s definitely a little heartbreaking because he’s one of my best friends and now I’m gonna have to play against him potentially next year,” Grosjean said. “But facing him –– if we’re able to do so –– in a midweek game because we’re not in the same conference, I’d probably crack a smile or two. I know he would too. It’d be a blast.”

Their now former head coach Tony Schifano at SF State, praised both Upstill and Grosjean for achieving their dreams of becoming Division I athletes, calling them tremendous young men with a fantastic work ethic.

“Nick was undoubtedly our leader on offense all year,” Schifano said. “At one point, he was leading the conference in batting for about three-quarters of the season. He was just strong and fast every time he went to the plate and competed like a professional hitter.”

Schifano has been coaching Upstill since 2020 and Grosjean joined the team the following year. Schifano mentioned both players had the possibility of leaving the team in 2021 when the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but decided not to and worked on enhancing their skills together.

“Gary worked extremely hard each summer and fall, each lifting program and swing program,” Schifano said. “This year, he turned himself into a Division I prospect. He received a tremendous offer from Cal State Bakersfield and I told him, ‘you better take it,’ and he did. We cannot wait to see him perform.”

Schifano said losing great players is also difficult but is proud of their development over their years at SF State. He plans to use them as examples when recruiting players to show that they could reach new heights once they develop at the university, such as Upstill and Grosjean.

Both Upstill and Grosjean hope to make a significant impact on their teams and are grateful for the opportunity to continue playing the sport they love.

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About the Contributors
Photo of Bryan Chavez
Bryan Chavez, Staff Reporter
Bryan Chavez (he/him) is a reporter for SF State’s Golden Gate Xpress. He is a senior pursuing a major in Journalism with a minor in Sociology. As a lifelong resident of the Bay Area, Bryan aspires to become a beat writer for the Golden State Warriors or any other major league sports team in the region. Beyond his journalistic pursuits, he enjoys engaging in hobbies such as hiking, painting, and building with Legos during his free time.

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