Gateway: Sports

Gig Harbor senior Toglia commits to UCLA

Gig Harbor High School senior Michael Toglia committed to UCLA last week.
Gig Harbor High School senior Michael Toglia committed to UCLA last week. Staff photographer

Michael Toglia will head to sunny Southern California after his senior season concludes.

The Gig Harbor High School senior outfielder and lefty pitcher made his decision official last week, committing to UCLA. UCLA coaches were in attendance at the Area Code Games in Long Beach, a prestigious tournament Toglia made the cut for in July.

After they saw him play, he visited the campus in Westwood and the Bruins’ coaching staff offered. Toglia committed once he got back home.

“UCLA turned out to be the perfect fit for me and my family,” Toglia said. “I love Southern California. It’s 73 degrees year-round — perfect weather to play in and a great atmosphere. I love the campus.”

UCLA compiled a 45-16 record during the 2014-15 season, posting a 22-8 mark in the Pac-12 and winning the league title comfortably. Playing for the Pac-12 champs was a factor in Toglia’s decision.

“I want to go and play for the best school I can,” he said. “I want to play for a school that has shown success. Knowing they’ve done that, it’s exciting to know I might go to the College World Series.”

Toglia said staying on the West Coast wasn’t a huge factor, but it was an added bonus. He had also been offered by several other Division I programs, including Washington, WSU, Gonzaga, Vanderbilt and others.

Toglia is projected as an outfielder and/or first baseman at the college level, but hasn’t entirely ruled out pitching. Toglia posted a .316/.436/.684 slash line (batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage) during his junior season.

“I want to take (every part of my game) to the next level,” he said. “That’s one of the biggest reasons I chose UCLA. I really believe I can take all of my skills to the next level and play with next-level players.”

Going to school in sunny SoCal didn’t hurt, either.

“There’s a lot of green everywhere,” Toglia said. “It’s compact — it’s not a 25-minute walk to get across campus. They’ve got celebrities walking across the campus. There’s tons of concerts and activities.”

Toglia plans to study mechanical engineering in college.

“It’s going to be a tough major to balance with baseball,” he said. “Math has been my favorite subject ever since elementary school. I like having a definitive answer, unlike in English classes.”

Toglia will see a couple of his teammates in Pac-12 competition. Left-handed pitcher Matthew Henckel, who graduated in June, is headed to Oregon, and senior catcher Jon Burghardt will play at Washington State.

“It’s really cool,” Toglia said. “(Henckel) texted me, saying we’d be rivals. It’ll be fun.”

Toglia will have to get used to despising his new crosstown rivals at USC. He’ll probably start by taking in the football game this fall at the LA Coliseum.

“I’m super excited,” he said. “It’ll be awesome to check out the rivalry be a part of that culture and atmosphere and just be a part of everything, be a part of college life.”

Jon Manley: 253-358-4151