Sean Sullivan (RHP)
Young trio will play key role for the Sweets this summer
All three D1 commits will get their first taste of collegiate action this summer with Walla Walla
Walla Walla, Wash. – Three graduating high school seniors who are committed to play at the Division I level will join the Sweets for the 2018 season. Jack Filby (MIF, C/ UCLA), Sean Sullivan (RHP/University of California, Berkeley), and Patrick Collins (RHP/University of San Francisco) will suit up for Walla Walla this summer.
“I knew [the Sweets] were in a very competitive league where there are a lot of D1 guys who want to play the game at the next level,” Filby said. “I knew it was the right destination for me.”
“I just think it’s an experience every college player should have, playing for a collegiate team over the summer and playing with a bunch of different guys going to different schools,” Sullivan said. “I know some guys on the team too, so it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
“It all started with Coach Mutz inviting me,” Collins said. “Then I really looked into it, and I saw it was a great chance for me to see college hitters before I actually went to college and that really intrigued me.”
Filby is a native of Sacramento California where he currently attends C.K. McClatchy High School and has already racked up a laundry list of accolades. In 2016, he was named to the Top Prospect Team at the Perfect Game Underclass All-American Games and played for the Oakland Athletics at the Underclass Area Code Games. In 2017, he was named to the MaxPreps Medium Schools All-State first team, All-Sacramento Bee first team, Rawlings Top Prospect Team at the Perfect Game National Showcase, and played a second time with the Athletics at the Area Code Games.
“I’ve had the privilege to play varsity since I was a freshman, so I’ve been entrenched in varsity baseball with a lot of high-level play and older guys which has allowed me to mature and grow as a player on and off the field,” Filby said. “It’s brought a lot of fun to my life allowing me to play the game that I love, which is baseball.”
During his 2016 and 2017 high school seasons, Filby batted .374 with 23 RBI, eight doubles, 56 walks, and a 1.142 OPS. He committed to UCLA following his freshman year back in 2015 and will now finally get the chance to don the Bruins’ blue and gold.
“I committed there because it was my dream school,” Filby said. “I enjoy Westwood and So-Cal, so that really appealed to me. They produce a lot of great players, and I’m hoping to be one of them.”
Sean Sullivan (RHP)
Patrick Collins (RHP)
Sullivan grew up in Woodland Hills, California and is currently attending Chaminade College Prep High School. He missed all last season due to a back injury but has been named to the Under Armour Preseason All-American team back-to-back years and was also high honorable mention on the Perfect Game Preseason All-American team in 2017.
“The baseball team is pretty much my home here,” Sullivan said. “It’s definitely a home away from home. I look forward to coming out here every single day and playing with my brothers. It’s a lot of fun and we get after it out here.”
Sullivan is committed to play for the University of California, Berkeley next year and said the chance to play in a beautiful area and in a high-caliber conference was an opportunity he could not pass up.
“I’m really fascinated with the Bay area,” Sullivan said. “I love the overcast weather and the coaches [at Cal] are amazing. Each and every one of them are really kind, really great guys. Their program is outstanding, Pac-12 baseball, that’s a given. I’m really fortunate that I got the opportunity to play there.”
Collins is a native of Calabasas, California and is currently attending Chaminade College Prep High School. He finished last season with a 4-0 record, a 1.15 ERA, 50 strikeouts in 61 innings pitched, and was named Mission League Pitcher of the Year.
“It’s been nice because it’s more of a laid-back atmosphere,” Collins said of the Chaminade baseball program. “We all love playing baseball and working hard when we have to, but we have a good time doing it.”
Collins is committed to play at the University of San Francisco next year and said after spending a lot of time in the city over the years that he always knew it was somewhere he wanted to be.
“I’ve always loved San Francisco because my dad is from there, and I still go up there all the time,” Collins said. “It’s always been a dream of mine to play Division I baseball so when I got the chance to play [at USF] I felt like it was a perfect match for me.”
Sweets head coach Frank Mutz has had the opportunity to coach both Sullivan and Collins over the last four years, as Mutz is also the head coach of Chaminade College Prep High School. He said that both players will play a vital role for the team this summer as members of the Sweets’ pitching staff.
“Sullivan is a hard throwing RHP and an incredible athlete,” Mutz said. “He is a guy who performs better in the big situations, and I’m confident will be a great asset to our pitching staff. Collins is one of the most competitive pitchers I’ve ever had pitch for me. He will be used in several roles this summer and adds a dynamic repertoire of pitches most high school and college pitchers don’t have.”
Coach Mutz has not had the opportunity to coach Filby, but still said that if [Filby] is not the top high school bat in Northern California, he’s certainly on the short list.
“We have high expectations for Filby and plan to have him in the top of our lineup,” Mutz said. “He is a complete player, and the only concern I have is that we may lose him to the 2018 MLB Draft.”Read Less
The Sweets have added three players who will help both in the field and on the mound.
Experience and versatility abundant with the Sweets newest signings
Walla Walla, Wash. – The Sweets have added three players who will help both in the field and on the mound. Sophomore Jeremy Polon (LHP/Moorpark College), junior Tyson Quolas (OF, LHP/Cal State Monterey Bay) and junior Zach Penrod (OF/Northwest Nazarene University) will be in action for the Walla Walla Sweets this summer.
“I’ve known coach Mutz since I was a freshman in high school,” Polon said. “His high school came to play at my junior college earlier this fall in a tournament that we host and I was talking to him and he asked if I wanted to play for the Sweets and my answer was, ‘Definitely!’”
“I wanted to join a really competitive league,” Quolas said. “The contract was there and everything else fell into place and now I’m really excited to be in Walla Walla.”
“Over the last couple years, I knew that the WCL was something that I wanted to be a part of,” Penrod said. “When my coach texted me and told me I got a spot with the Walla Walla Sweets, I was super excited. It was like a dream come true to play at this level.”
Polon grew up in West Hills, California and had a stellar career at El Camino Real Charter High School. He was a three-year letter winner for baseball and compiled a career record of 30-4 while striking out 224 batters in 210 innings.
He holds two of the five lowest season ERA’s in El Camino Real Charter baseball history and helped lead the school to back-to-back Los Angeles City Division I Championships. Polon was a three-time first team Los Angeles City Section Division I selection, the 2015 City Section Division I Co-Player of the Year, two-time West Valley League Pitcher of the Year, and three-time first team West Valley League selection.
Polon played his first year of college ball at San Jose State University, appeared in 13 games, and finished the season with 10 strikeouts in seven innings of work. Last summer he played in the WCL with the Gresham Greywolves and had a 1-2 record with 17 strikeouts over 18 1/3 innings pitched. Having had the chance to play in Borleske Stadium, Polon said he was blown away by the overall experience.
“We showed up there I believe for a Friday, Saturday, Sunday series and all those days it was packed,” he said. “The fans were awesome, the facility is beautiful, the playing surface is awesome, I was really impressed.”
Now attending Moorpark College, Polon said he is enjoying his time with the baseball program and having campus be so close to home. The school’s pitching coach, Tom Vessella, is a former professional baseball player who Polon said has a great approach to the game and has really helped him tremendously.
“Our pitching coach, he’s been awesome,” Polon said. “He has that pro-ball mentality to get in, get your work in, and then you go home. I like that feel to it; it doesn’t have such a robotic feel. This is only my first year [with Moorpark], so I’m still new to the whole system here, but so far it’s been a great time.”
Jeremy Polon (LHP)
Tyson Quolas (OF, LHP)
Quolas grew up in Oxnard, California and went to Oaks Christian High School where he had an exceptional baseball career. His senior year in 2014, he finished with a .407 batting average, 20 runs scored, 10 RBI and nine doubles. That year he was named to the MaxPreps All-State second team, All-Southern Section, first team All-Ventura County, first team All-CIF, and first team All-Tri Valley Conference.
Quolas played his first two years of college ball locally with Oxnard College and finished his stint there with a .257 batting average, 11 doubles and 31 RBI. On the mound for the Condors, he finished with a 1-1 record and a 2.81 ERA in 16 innings pitched. He was also honorable mention Western States North Conference in 2015 and second team in 2016.
“It was a big learning experience,” Quolas said of his time at Oxnard College. “Steve Hernandez was my pitching coach and he taught me my changeup and I use that pitch a lot now. I’m glad I went to Oxnard and learned that pitch because it’s good to rely on when your fastball is not doing too hot.”
Quolas transferred to Cal State Monterey Bay in the fall of 2016 and utilized his redshirt season this past year. He said he has enjoyed the change of scenery and that the overall approach to the game by the coaching staff has been great.
“When I came to Cal State Monterey I was expecting something like Oxnard, but Coach White, he coaches a little more freestyle,” said Quolas. “You have your own program and you stick to it and have to grind on your own. You go at your own pace, so if you’re not feeling great one day you can lighten up your load, but most of the time we like to go out and get after it together and all do different things.”
Penrod is a native of Nampa, Idaho, where he went to Columbia High School and was an outstanding athlete. He was a three-year varsity letter winner in baseball and was named as a first team All-Conference outfielder all three years.
Penrod spent his first two years playing collegiately for Corban University. He started 59 games and finished with a .273 batting average, 2 homeruns, 14 doubles, and 17 stolen bases. On the mound for Corban, he appeared in nine games and finished with a 2.03 ERA.
“When I went on my visit to Corban, I just really felt at home,” Penrod said. “I really enjoyed the Christian small school aspect. On the baseball side of things, I made a lot of really great relationships with the team. We really bonded my freshman year.”
Penrod transferred to Northwest Nazarene University this past fall, which is just a short drive from his hometown of Nampa. He said he was drawn to play for the Nighthawks because of head coach Rocke Musgraves’ approach to the game of baseball.
“I really enjoyed the outlook [Musgraves] has on the game,” Penrod said. “I felt like it was something I could really get involved in. I’m also looking forward to playing a little closer to home, so my family could come see me more often.”
All three talented upperclassmen made a note to mention their excitement to get the chance to play in front of the tremendous Sweets fan base at Borleske Stadium and that they look forward to winning a lot of games this summer.
“Playing there last year and seeing the whole atmosphere really turned me on to the team and how they went about things,” Polon said. “I saw how great the fans are, and it’s a very talented team, they always get a really good group of guys together every summer.”
“I’m looking forward to meeting great players from all across the country because you just don’t know who you’re going to meet and end up being really close friends with,” Quolas said.
“I’m excited to play in a place that I’ve never been before,” Penrod said. “I also understand there’s quite a big crowd turnout. I love to play in front of people, it’s just something I really enjoy doing so I’m excited for the chance to do it with the Sweets.”Read Less
Walla Walla, Wash. – With the 2018 season just a few short months away, the Sweets are once again searching for families interested in hosting players for the summer. Host families are one of the most significant pieces of community involvement with the Sweets, and the club wants your family to join the team.
“As we approach nine years of #SweetsCountry, I look back on the relationships built and maintained through our host family program – it is truly special and unique to the West Coast League in the caliber of the families and experiences players receive,” said team president Zachary Fraser. “I invite you and your family to become part of one of the best, most community-centered groups in the Walla Walla Valley and host a Sweets player this season.”
Rosanna Morgan has been a host for the Walla Walla Sweets since the team’s first season back in 2010. She decided to become a host because she wanted to “grow” her family and said that the experience has been far more rewarding than she could have ever expected.
“We really did grow our family, but so much more than we ever could have expected,” Morgan said. “Regardless of the years that pass, we keep in contact to share what’s going on in the family. We have seen the players move on and begin their careers, and one has even gotten married. Our family has truly grown all by simply hosting a Sweets player for the summer.”
In addition to being invited to a private host family and player barbeque at the end of the season, host families will also be recognized on-field for their contributions to the Sweets organization and their individual players. Each member of the host family household will receive a General Admission season ticket and 20% off all merchandise and apparel in the Sweets Shoppe throughout the 2018 season.
For more information, including learning what the host family expectations are and the additional benefits and commitments that come with being a host family, please visit the Host Family page on our website at https://wallawallasweets.com/host-families/?kmas=307.Read Less
Two University of Utah players set to join the Sweets this summer.
Two University of Utah players set to join the Sweets this summer.
Walla Walla, Wash. – After a brief hiatus, there will once again be Utes donning Walla Walla uniforms in the 2018 season. The freshman pair of Justin Kelly (RHP) and Matt Richardson (SS) will be the first University of Utah players to join the Sweets since 2013, when future draft pick Bret Helton was an All-Star pitcher for the Sweets’ division-winning club.
“The way I looked at it was that Walla Walla looked like a great place,” Kelly said. “I’ve actually driven through the city a few times and it seemed like an awesome town.”
“I just feel it’s a great opportunity to continue to play over the summer, especially being able to compete with other talented players,” Richardson said. “And it’s a town I’ve never been to, so it’s just a great opportunity.”
Kelly grew up in West Jordan, Utah and went to Copper Hills High School where he had an outstanding high school career being named All-Region three consecutive seasons. He finished his senior year with a 1.67 ERA and 42 strikeouts over 37 2/3 innings and was named to the Utah 5A All-Star Team, as well as honorable mention All-State.
Kelly was initially committed to play baseball at the junior college level before being recruited by and ultimately committing to the University of Utah. He grew up a fan of the Utes, but he also said he chose Utah because it offered him the opportunity to play at the Division I level.
“The goal, honestly, is to play at the highest level that you can,” Kelly said. “So the way I looked at it was why put off playing two years at a JUCO, when I could play at the highest level that I possibly can right away.”
While in high school, Kelly played shortstop along with pitching, but he was recruited to the Utes as a pitcher. He said that he’s already having a great time with the Utah’s baseball program and that he loves being able to branch out and meet as many new people as he can in Salt Lake City.
“It’s been awesome being able to go to that big of a school and making connections all over the place,” Kelly said. “The baseball has been great and I’m looking forward to the long season ahead because it’s going to be awesome.”
Justin Kelly (RHP)
Matt Richardson (SS)
Richardson said he chose to attend the University of Utah because he will have the opportunity to come in and start right away at shortstop for the Utes and because he’ll be playing with and against some of the best players in the country while competing in the Pac-12. He will also have the chance to reunite with his former high school teammate, Dashawn Keirsey Jr., who Richardson also said played a big factor in him choosing to play in Salt Lake City.
“It has been nothing but positive and great experiences,” Richardson said of his early time spent at Utah. “It was definitely hard at first coming into a new city, new state, and not being familiar with Salt Lake City, but the guys made it an easier transition and the coaches, too, and now everything’s flowing really well.”
Richardson said that his parents are a huge part of his life and that they are what motivates him to be great. His
father, Marty, was his baseball coach growing up and his mother, Lisa, has always been his biggest supporter.
“My dad was really the first person that taught me how to play the game that I love,” Richardson said, “and my mom, she’s my number one fan. There’s nobody in my life that supports me more than my mom. I’ve always been really close with my parents because they know what’s best for me and they know what I have to do [to play baseball at the next level].”
The talented freshmen from the Utes both said they look forward to meeting their new Sweets teammates and improving their game by playing against the high caliber competition in the WCL.
“The biggest thing for me to do this summer is just be able to grow more as a person and branch out and meet even more people,” Kelly said. “I haven’t spent this amount of time being out of state and being away from everybody, so that’s the biggest thing I’m looking forward to – being able to get out and meet new people.”
“I am going to be playing in front of some really cool fans,” Richardson said. “I looked into Walla Walla and the fan base behind the team and it looks awesome.”
Sweets head coach Frank Mutz said that both players are extremely versatile and will be key players for the team this season.
“Having a durable pitcher like Justin gives us an arm we can fit in either the rotation or the back end of the bullpen,” Mutz said. “He has the ability to throw in any situation which will be really valuable for our pitching staff. Matt can play both middle infield positions and is very capable offensively. We focus on recruiting speed, and he will fit right in with our aggressive style of baserunning.”Read Less
Sweets add three members of the Wolf Pack for 2018
Walla Walla, Wash. – There may be some howling at the moon on the diamond for the Sweets this season as the team has added three talented players from the University of Nevada, Reno Wolf Pack. Sophomore Ty Hueckman (RHP), freshman Josh Prizina (C, 1B, OF), and freshman Tanner Cunha (LHP) will suit up for Walla Walla this upcoming season.
A native of Burns, Oregon, Hueckman was a three-sport athlete at Burns High School playing baseball, basketball and football. He spent his first year of collegiate action playing for Treasure Valley Community College and had an impressive season. He finished with a record of 5-1 and a 2.42 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 67 innings pitched.
“It was awesome [playing for Treasure Valley], having grown up always watching the Chukars play,” Hueckman said. “It was a dream come true getting to put on a college uniform and throw.”
Hueckman transferred to UNR in the fall of 2017 and said it was a huge transition moving to a larger school but that he’s much more comfortable now. He loves the community of Reno and the baseball team. He said that being familiar with Walla Walla growing up, he’s excited for the opportunity to play for the Sweets this season.
“I love Walla Walla,” Hueckman said. “I go through there a ton and spent a lot of time there, so I feel like I can go in there and be comfortable and still be close enough to home to have friends and family come to games. So, it seemed like a good spot for me.”
“I’ve always known about the Sweets because they’re pretty close to home, so that was definitely a team that stuck out for me,” Hueckman said. “There’s a bunch of Nevada players that have played [with the Sweets] that told me about it and it sounded like a ton of fun and they all loved it.”
Tanner Cunha (LHP)
Josh Prizina (C, 1B, OF)
Prizina followed in the footsteps of his mother, Chris, and his uncle, Jim Puzey, who both attended the University of Nevada, Reno and played softball and baseball respectively. He said getting the chance to play for the Wolf Pack was an opportunity he could not pass up.
“Growing up in the community, I knew the environment and I knew this was a town that couldn’t be beat,” Prizina said. “So to get a scholarship was a dream come true. I took it the second he offered, and it was just a dream come true.”
Prizina became familiar with the Sweets because his good friend from high school, Ryan Anderson, played for the team in the summer of 2016. It was because of Anderson’s high praise for the team that Prizina was persuaded to become a part of the Sweets.
“[Anderson] said it was the time of his life, and he said if there’s anywhere you can go, try to get to the Sweets because they’re a really good program, the community rocks, and he loved his host family as well,” Prizina said. “I thought that was something I could potentially see myself doing, so once my coach brought it up that I was going to Walla Walla, I was super excited.”
Cunha is a native of Sacramento, California and had an outstanding high school career at Christian Brothers High School. The left-handed hurler threw a 6-inning perfect game against a rival school his senior year and earned several accolades including 1st Team All-City, 1st Team All-NorCal, and Medium Schools 1st Team All-State. He also helped propel Christian Brothers to their first ever section title for baseball, throwing a complete game and striking out six in the championship.
Cunha is currently attending Sacramento City College, but will transfer to UNR in the fall. He said that junior college was always a possibility coming out of high school because he had been underestimated due to his small size on the mound and not having the velocity you might expect out of an ace. But Cunha’s ability to command the zone and throw strikes caught the eye of the Wolf Pack coaches late into the summer of 2017, and he will now can prove himself at the Division I level.
“I decided to join the Sweets to have the collegiate competition over the summer,” Cunha said. “It will help get me prepared for UNR with Division I athletes and studs on the field at all times.”
With his first collegiate season approaching, Cunha said he feels that his experience with Sacramento City will benefit him both mentally and physically because of how the baseball program works to develop its players.
“They help you to realize it’s more than a game of baseball,” Cunha said. “They help you with life and how to deal with the bad stuff that happens both on the mound and in life, so being here so far has shown me a lot about my character as a baseball player and my character off the field.”
Cunha will join a strong staff of pitchers for the Sweets in 2018 and he said he’s excited for the opportunity to meet and gel with his new teammates.
“I’m looking forward to developing the team camaraderie, going as far as we can in the playoffs and hopefully winning it all,” Cunha said.
Sweets management is anxious to continue to grow the relationship with the Wolf Pack.
“Coach (T.J.) Bruce and his staff at UNR continue to be a great partner in securing players that make a strong addition to our club,” said Sweets president Zachary Fraser. “We look forward to Ty, Josh and Tanner being key components of a run to a championship this season.”Read Less
Josh Kutzke and Mitch Lesmeister set to don the Sweets uniform in 2018
Kutzke and Lesmeister set to don the Sweets uniform in 2018
Walla Walla, Wash. – From fans in the stands to playing on the field, two notable local athletes will be in action for the Sweets this coming season. Junior Josh Kutzke (IF/South Dakota State University) and freshman Mitchell (Mitch) Lesmeister (Util/Central Washington University) will be playing right in the backyard of their hometowns this summer for Walla Walla.
“Growing up going to their games and watching them play, I’ve always aspired to eventually play for the Sweets,” Lesmeister said. “I finally got the opportunity this summer, so of course I took it, and I’m super stoked about it.”
“I joined the team because I want to better myself as a player,” Kutzke said. “And the experience [of getting to play for Walla Walla], not many people get a chance to do something like this.”
Both players have been staples of the Walla Walla athletic community over the last several years.
A native of College Place, WA, Lesmeister played baseball, football, and basketball at Walla Walla High School. Fans of Blue Devil athletics have probably grown familiar with his name over the last few years. Lesmeister racked up a laundry list of accolades in all three sports. In football, he was MCC All-Conference honorable mention back-to-back years (QB 2016, 2017). In basketball, he was MCC All-Conference honorable mention and Defensive Player of the Year (2016) and second team (2017). In baseball, he was MCC All-Conference first team consecutive seasons (2016, 2017) and the 2017 MCC Player of the Year. Perhaps his most notable athletic accomplishment is that he broke Drew Bledsoe’s career yardage record at Wa-Hi by nearly 1000 yards, finishing his career with 5,045 total yards. Lesmeister chose to pursue baseball because he felt it gave him the best chance at a long playing career.
Mitch Lesmeister (Utility)
Josh Kutzke (1B, 3B)
Kutzke, a Kennewick, WA native, played his first two seasons of collegiate baseball at Walla Walla Community College before transferring to South Dakota State University this past fall. He said the coaches at WWCC were outstanding and that he has fond memories of playing for the Warriors.
“I loved it there,” Kutzke said. “If CC was a four-year school, I would have stayed there, definitely. It’s a place I’ll never forget and will always be close to me.”
Kutzke posted some outstanding offensive numbers while playing for WWCC. He finished his two-year stint with a .279 batting average, six homeruns, 27 doubles, 60 walks, and 57 RBI. What really set him apart was his ability to get on base. He also led his team in nearly every offensive category his sophomore year in 2017.
With both players growing up in #SweetsCountry, they had the chance to go to several Sweets games since the team’s inception in 2010. Kutzke and Lesmeister said they are looking forward to playing in front of the great Walla Walla fans and having the opportunity to play in the historic Borleske Stadium.
“Borleske is a one-of-a-kind experience, and you’re not going to see another baseball stadium like it,” said Lesmeister. “Then of course there’s the Walla Walla fans. They love the Sweets, and I’m really excited to be a part of that atmosphere this summer.”
“To me, it’s how the fans support the team so well and show up to all the games,” said Kutzke when being asked what makes the atmosphere at Borleske so special. “All the people of Walla Walla show love to the team, and that’s what I like most, the support from the community.”Read Less
The Sweets have announced their new play-by-play broadcaster and media relations manager for the 2018 season.
The Sweets have announced their new play-by-play broadcaster and media relations manager for the 2018 season.
Brandon Pavlina will take the helm of both positions as he was introduced today via Facebook Live on the Sweets page at the American Baseball Coaches Association Convention in Indianapolis.
“This is an amazing opportunity, and I can’t wait to become a part of #SweetsCountry and the Walla Walla community,” Pavlina said. “I am really looking forward to engaging with the fan base leading up to the season and putting together the most fun and insightful broadcast the Sweets have ever had.”
The 24-year-old is from Dyer, Indiana, located in the Northwest tip of the state just 45 minutes from downtown Chicago. He graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in the spring of 2017 with a degree in sports communication and a minor in telecommunications.
“He comes from a strong program, and we look to add him to the list of broadcasters who have started their careers in the Borleske Stadium Press Box,” said Sweets president Zachary Fraser.
Pavlina has spent a great deal of his life involved with the game of baseball. He was a four-year letter winner in baseball while attending Andrean High School in Merrillville, Indiana and won two 3A state championships during his tenure.
After his playing career concluded, Pavlina knew he still wanted to be involved with the game he loved. He joined the Big Ten Student U program at Indiana University and had the opportunity to broadcast several different IU athletics and a great deal of baseball games.
Pavlina has also remained involved with the game but on the officiating side of the diamond. During the summers that he spent home in Northwest Indiana, he has umpired several hundred travel ball games at all ages, ranging from Little League all the way up through high school.
“Umpiring has offered me an incredibly unique perspective on the game that I honestly wish I had while I was still playing,” Pavlina said. “When you are a young and naïve ball player, you may argue and disagree with calls, but when the shoe is on the other foot and you are the one making the calls, you understand that the umpires are trying their very best and how difficult the job truly is.”
Pavlina spent the summer of 2016 interning with ESPN 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis. He worked alongside The Dan Dakich Show and The Ride with JMV assisting the producers with their daily functions.
He currently works for the Regional Radio Sports Network, based out of Mishawaka, Indiana, broadcasting high school and college athletics all across Indiana. To this point with RRSN he has called football, soccer, basketball and volleyball games with the expectation to add baseball and softball in the spring.
He will continue the long history of quality broadcasters to call games on the local ESPN affiliate, ESPN Walla Walla (1490 AM/99.7 FM), with the first broadcast of the season scheduled to originate on the road from Yakima County Stadium, as the Sweets open the 2018 season on the road vs. the Pippins.Read Less
Walla Walla, WA – A ray of sunshine and warmth as the cold and dreary winter weather settles in…that is what the release of the 2018 Walla Walla Sweets schedule represents. After another thrilling World Series, and the baseball world ready to work the off-season, the Sweets are excited to continue preparations for what will be the team’s ninth campaign at historic Borleske Stadium.
“After some record-breaking games in 2017, we are excited to welcome our fans and community to the stadium this coming season,” said Sweets general manager Dan Ferguson. “Is there a better place to spend a perfect Walla Walla summer night? We don’t think so.”
This season’s schedule has significant notes of importance:
The Sweets have moved from the WCL North division to the WCL South division, having flip-flopped with the Yakima Valley Pippins. The Sweets will now welcome Bend, Corvallis, Cowlitz and newly added Portland as division foes. The WCL will maintain a split-season format to determine who qualifies for the playoffs.
For the first time in club history, the team will open with a 6-game road trip – visiting Yakima Valley (also owned and operated by Pacific Baseball Ventures) and Bellingham before returning back to the Walla Walla Valley.
As previously announced, the Sweets will move regular start times for the 2018 season. The team will still have gates opening at 6 P.M., but first pitch will move to 6:35 PM, instead of the 7:05 P.M. that has been in place since the 2010 season. Sunday games will move to a 4:35 P.M. start instead of a 5:05 P.M. start. Special times for select games will be determined and publicized with the release of the promotional schedule.
The Sweets will play 32 regular-season games and 27 regular-season road games.
The WCL Opening Day will be Friday, June 1st. Opening Day at historic Borleske Stadium will fall on Friday, June 8th, as the Sweets will welcome the Corvallis Knights. The Sweets swept the Knights in their visit to Borleske in 2017, outscoring the eventual WCL champion 16-6. Other key notes on the schedule include:
Six weekend series – the entire Walla Walla community is planning to head to the ballpark on Friday after work, as the Sweets have six Friday-Saturday-Sunday match-ups.
The Relish Series – the Sweets will welcome the Pickles in what has to be the first-ever sports contest between onions and cucumbers.
Home for Fathers Day – an afternoon at the ballpark is on the docket for Fathers Day 2018 as the Sweets will host the Bend Elks
Ferguson and team president Zachary Fraser are busy with staff building and finalizing the details of the promotional schedule, with plans to release that after the New Year. From fireworks, to Bobbleheads, to an Alternative Facts Night, it will be another fun and family-friendly gathering over the course of the season.
Of course, the primary goal is a return to the playoffs and playing for a WCL Championship.
“Frank, Kyle and Raul have extended their efforts to see more of our incoming players in person this fall,” said Fraser. “We are also really excited about the returning players – all are significant contributors who are excited to come back to our community.
“This is a year where the playoffs are expected.”
Opening Day Tickets to go on sale Friday, December 1: Opening Day continues to be one of Walla Walla’s grandest celebrations. Last season, a record crowd saw the Sweets shut out the Wenatchee AppleSox. Tickets for the 2018 Opening Day will be on sale starting December 1, with a goal to get the building full before the calendar turns the page to January 2018.
“We’re about 35% of the way there,” said Ferguson, noting that the goal is to top the 2,196 that came through the gate in ’17. “I see no reason why #SweetsCountry can’t beat that number – even if it is by 1 additional person.”
Remaining single-game tickets will be on sale Monday, April 2, 2018. Season, mini-plan and group tickets are now on sale and moving swiftly.Read Less
Johnston becomes latest 3-Year Sweet, Riddle returns to the mound
Walla Walla, WA – A league leader in getting on base and one of the best two-way players in the West Coast League, along with a powerful left-handed pitcher with plenty to prove, will be returning to the home-side dugout for the 2018 season. OF/RHP Ryan Johnston, a redshirt sophomore for the UC-Irvine Anteaters, and LHP Dylan Riddle, another redshirt sophomore for the ‘Eaters, will both be returning to Walla Walla for the 2018 WCL campaign.
“RJ continues to be a quiet leader in the clubhouse, on the road, and in our community,” said Sweets president Zachary Fraser. “In addition to be a great baseball player, he provides a great example to our young fans.
“I’m excited that he is becoming one of the few players in Sweets history to be invited back for a third full season.”
In addition to the intangibles that he brings to the table, Johnston was one of the most effective two-way players on the circuit. He finished third in the league with a .467 on-base percentage, often in the leadoff spot for the Sweets. His ability to get on base, by hook or by crook, is something that Frank Mutz and his staff are looking forward to putting to good use once again. When he wasn’t patiently pacing the offense, he was a deceptively effective relief pitcher. In 17.1 innings pitched, primarily in short relief, he struck out 15 while walking only 2. His versatility and his experience have the Sweets anxious to have him back in the lineup.
“I am very excited to have another opportunity to be back in Walla Walla,” said Johnston. “I love the atmosphere Walla Walla brings and the amazing family I’ve created with my time (in the community).
“I look forward to getting out there with a new group of guys and hopefully bring the team a championship.”
This will be Riddle’s third season in the WCL, second in Walla Walla after spending the 2016 campaign with the Wenatchee AppleSox. He featured electric stuff last season despite results that were decidedly mixed. Early in the season, he was dominant, and was among the league leaders in key statistical categories. He faced a slump in the middle part of the year, as he was part of a pitching staff that battled a record number of injuries. Sweets coaches are confident in Riddle’s ability to both start and offer relief in the bullpen, given what pitching coach Raul Camacho saw over the course of the season.
“Just the competitiveness,” said Camacho when asked what stood out for him about Riddle over the course of the season. “He’s a student of the game and wants to do the work to get better. There wasn’t a time when he was ‘unavailable’ to pitch…
“He carried our staff early in the summer, even coming back from an injury. I think he just hit a wall as the innings built up, and with another year removed from the injury, I think we will see more of the Dylan we saw early – and that is pretty special.”
Camacho went on to note that the toughness of both players in indicative of the Anteater program, believing that both are important pieces in the singular effort to bring a WCL to Walla Walla. For his part, Riddle is looking forward to returning to a great community that embraced him and made him feel at home.
“It’s a blessing to be playing in such a great community with an amazing fan base,” said Riddle. “I look forward to getting back out at Borleske and helping bring Walla Walla a West Coast League title.”Read Less