Where Are They Now Series: 2011 Walla Walla Sweets

The second edition of the “where are they now?” series looks at the second season of Walla Walla Sweets baseball. From the newly formed traditions, to the first playoff appearance in team history, the Sweets put together plenty of memorable moments in the summer of 2011.

After an inaugural season that saw the Sweets finish last in the West Coast League, expectations were much higher in year two. Like the previous season, the Sweets didn’t get of to a hot start. They found themselves holding on to a spot in the playoff picture come mid-July. Down three games in the wild-card race and with their season hanging in the balance, the Sweets won 13 of their final 20 games to beat out the Bellingham Bells for the final spot in the WCL postseason.

After finishing the regular season 26-28, the Sweets were met with a tough draw in the division series against the heavily-favored Wenatchee Apple Sox. Led by league MVP Alex Stanford, the Sweets stunned the Apple Sox in a 2-0 sweep to win the club’s first ever postseason series. Despite bowing out to Corvallis in the league championship round, the Sweets made major progress from year one to two. They improved their win total by 10, had six players including Stanford earn all-star honors, and swept the third ranked collegiate summer baseball team in the country in the playoffs.


# Player B/T Ht Wt College Class Hometown Draft Status Player Eligibility
3 Trent Allianic R/R 6-0 185 Hawaii Koloa, Kauai
36 Kyle Anderson R/L 6-2 200 Cal Poly Senior Aptos, CA
23 Simon Anderson R/R 6-5 215 North Dakota State Junior Bemidju, Minn
34 Tyler Billen L/L 6-4 240 Harding Junior Edmond, OK
8 Doug Christie R/R 6-0 200 Lower Columbia CC Sophomore Black Diamond, Wash
28 Tim Culligan R/R 6-2 212 Nevada Senior Hillsboro, OR
10 Aaron Hoverson R/R 5-11 175 Winona St. Junior Maplewood, Minn
30 Daniel Jewett L/L 5-10 175 Truman St. Sophomore Seattle, Wash
46 Jimmy Litchfield L/L 6-0 175 UC Irvine Sophomore La Habra, Cali
18 Cory Mack L/L 5-8 175 Seattle U Sophomore Spokane, Wash
15 Zach Nice R/R 6-1 190 Portland Sophomore La Grande, OR
19 Jacob Overbay R/R 6-3 205 Nevada Senior
16 Derek Peterson R/R 6-0 185 Gonzaga Sophomore Spokane, Wash
55 Ryan Richardson R/R 5-10 160 Campbellsville Senior Spokane, Wash
21 Sean Santschi R/R 6-2 222 Gonzaga Senior Vancouver, WA
39 Geoff Soja R/R 6-3 210 Niagara Sophomore Fairport, NY
27 Brett Watson L/L 6-1 215 Walla Walla CC Junior Lewiston, ID
32 Eric Yardley R/R 6-0 165 Seattle U Junior Richland, WA
35 Kody Young R/R


# Player B/T Ht Wt College Class Hometown Draft Status Player Eligibility
25 Kevin Hawk L/R 6-1 200 Lewis-Clark State Junior Boise, ID
2 Elliot Stewart R/R 5-11 200 Cal Poly Senior San Jose, CA


# Player B/T Ht Wt College Class Hometown Draft Status Player Eligibility
6 Kalani Brackenridge R/R 5-10 180 Hawaii Junior Kapolei, Oahu Hawaii
20 James Campbell R/R 6-1 203 Pomona-Pitzer Senior Lookout Mountain, TN
1 Denver Chavez R/R 5-8 165 Cal Poly Junior Santa Barbara, CA
29 Austin Heaps L/R 6-2 220 Utah Valley Senior Orem, UT
33 Goose Kallunki R/R 6-5 235 Utah Valley Senior Orem, UT
26 Chance Kopacz R/R 6-0 195 Walla Walla CC Junior Hermiston, OR
24 Alex Stanford L/R 5-10 180 Gonzaga Senior Bothell, WA
11 Zach Wentz R/R 6-3 215 North Dakokta St. Senior Bismarck, ND
13 Kevin Williams L/R 6-0 185 UCLA Sophomore Van Nuys, CA


# Player B/T Ht Wt College Class Hometown Draft Status Player Eligibility
14 Brenton Allen L/L 6-1 205 UCLA Sophomore Cerritos, CA
31 Nick Gentili L/L 6-2 185 Pomona-Pitzer Junior Glendale, CA
12 Scott Gottschling R/R 6-0 180 UC-Irvine Junior Orange, CA
4 Brett Jacobs R/R 6-0 182 Washington St. Junior Richland, WA
9 Andrew Mendenhall R/R 6-3 200 Oregon Junior Kennewick, WA


# Name
J.C. Biagi Manager
Cesar Lopez Assistant Coach
Dave Meliah Manager
Mark Michaud Pitching Coach
East Division W L PCT GB STREAK LAST 10
Wenatchee AppleSox 39 15 0.722 2L 5-5
Walla Walla Sweets 26 28 0.481 13 2W 7-3
Bellingham Bells 21 32 0.396 17.5 2L 2-8
Kelowna Falcons 19 34 0.358 19.5 2W 7-3
West Division W L PCT GB STREAK LAST 10
Corvallis Knights 37 17 0.685 1W 8-2
Bend Elks 29 25 0.537 8 1L 4-6
Cowlitz Black Bears 28 26 0.519 9 1L 5-5
Kitsap BlueJackets 24 30 0.444 13 2W 6-4
Klamath Falls Gems 19 35 0.352 18 2L 3-7

The Sweets placed 6 players on the WCL East All-Star team. All of these players earned All-WCL honors as well.

  • C Elliot Stewart
  • 2B/SS Alex Stanford
  • OF Andrew Mendenhall
  • P Ryan Richardson
  • P Tim Culligan
  • P Brett Watson  (Third in the league with a 1.62 ERA)

Stewart, who spent two seasons with the team, enjoyed every part of the 2011 season.

“Walla Walla was an awesome experience all around,” Stewart said. “We were a hard working and talented group on the field, my host family was excellent and I enjoyed the city of Walla Walla as well. It was great to be the first team to get to the playoffs and to win that first series.”

The Sweets led the league in attendance once again in 2011, drawing over 54,000 fans to rank in the top-20 nationally. Stanford set the single-season record in the WCL for most hits with 66, while Richardson led the league in ERA at 1.53 in 53 innings.

The Sweets off-field traditions brought just as much life to the ballpark as their play on it. In the eighth inning, the club would play “Love is Gone” by David Guetta over the sound system.  Players would then emerge from the dugout and begin dancing, which brought the crowd to its feet every home game.  This tradition seemed to give the team a boost as well, as they had the most come-from-behind victories after the seventh inning of any team in the league.

Broadcaster Tristan Hobbes also became a fan favorite in Walla Walla for some of his signature calls. For victories, Hobbes would close the game with the expression “The Sweets Win! How Sweet it is!“, while another common call was “Simon Says…Game Over!” call as closer Simon Anderson would wrap up a save.

2011 Season Notables:

  • Kyle Anderson pitched for three seasons in the minor leagues, going as far as Double-A
  • Drew Fittry is currently in his fifth season as the head baseball coach at Hilbert University
  • Ryan Richardson enjoyed a seven-year career in independent ball from 2013-2019. He posted a 14-9 record with a 2.81 ERA.
  • Stewart has been an assistant coach at Cal Poly for several years and also runs his own baseball training service in Paso Robles, California. He was also second in the WCL in home runs in 2011 with five. You can listen to his interview on his Walla Walla experience right here on the Sweets website.
  • Denver Chavez played one season of minor league baseball in the Arizona Diamondbacks farm system.
  • Eric Yardley, a reliever for the Milwaukee Brewers, made his postseason debut in the wildcard round against the eventual World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers this past MLB season. The 30-year-old right-hander held his own against the best squad in baseball, facing seven batters and striking out two while pitching 2 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball. Yardley, a Seattle native, has enjoyed a successful start in his first two seasons in the big leagues. After posting 2.31 ERA in his rookie season with San Diego in 2019, Yardley took on a more prominent role in the Milwaukee bullpen and rose to the occasion. In 24 games this past season, he posted a 1.54 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings.
  • Austin Heaps received third-team All-America honors from the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) in his senior season at Utah Valley and was a career .345 hitter.
  • Goose Kallunki played four seasons of professional baseball between the minor and independent leagues.
  • Zach Wentz, the brother of NFL quarterback Carson Wentz, helped start the A01 foundation. In 2018, they announced a campaign to build an athletic complex in Haiti where Carson has done mission work. In May alone, the foundation brought in $520,000 towards the Haiti project. At the foundation’s first annual softball game, Wentz and company brought in $850,000 in donations. The foundation has helped numerous communities around the world.  Zach hit .300 for his collegiate career prior to this and played a brief stint of professional baseball.
  • Brenton Allen played two seasons of professional baseball in the minor leagues.
  • After a successful baseball career at Pomona-Pitzer, Nicholas Gentili has gone on to become vice president at IDS Real Estate Group in Los Angeles.


By: Brandon Monty

Date: January 25, 2021