Hall debuts; Former WCL pitcher Peterson picks up the win
WALLA WALLA, WA – It was a day of firsts in Boston on Tuesday night.
Former Sweets left-handed pitcher Matt Hall made his first Major League start for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Hall, who was acquired by the Red Sox this past off-season from the Detroit Tigers, was pegged as Boston’s fifth starter this season after having an impressive showing during Boston’s summer camp prior to the start of the shortened season.
In 2 2/3 innings against the New York Mets, Hall struck out three and allowed three runs on three hits. After working a 1-2-3 first inning, including a strikeout of 2019 NL Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso, Hall ran into trouble in the second.
Hall surrendered a leadoff single then struck out Michael Conforto. But he then hit Yoenis Cespedes before giving up a double to Robinson Cano to allow the first run of the game. After retiring Wilson Ramos on a weak grounder, Hall walked Brandon Nimmo after missing on two close pitches that would have ended the inning. The walk proved costly, as Amed Rosario followed with a 2-RBI single. Hall got Alonso to fly out to center to end the inning.
Hall returned to start the third inning and made quick work of the first two hitters he faced, getting a flyout and a strikeout. But after walking Conforto on four straight pitches, Hall’s night was done as he was replaced by Austin Brice. Brice struck out Cespedes to end the inning.
While not the outing neither Hall nor the Red Sox had hoped for, it did mark the first time that a Walla Walla Sweets pitcher started a Major League game. Until last night, Hall had worked out of the bullpen in the minor leagues and with the Tigers when he was called up in September 2018.
Hall, who played his college ball at Missouri State University, was a member of the Sweets 2013 team that won the West Coast League North Division title. He went 5-2 during the summer, striking out 45 batters with an impressive ERA of 2.25. He was drafted in the 6th round of the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft by the Detroit Tigers.
Hall’s first start also coincided with the debut of left-hander David Peterson, also an alum of the West Coast League. Peterson, who pitched for the former WCL team Medford Rouges in 2014, took the mound for the Mets and picked up the win. He went 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, striking out three and walking two.
The Mets won the game 8-3 and improved to 3-2, while the Red Sox fell to 1-4.Read Less
Garrett Mitchell first WCL player picked in 2020
In a shortened Major League Baseball draft, the Sweets saw three players selected in the five rounds on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Outfielder Garrett Mitchell, who suited up for the Sweets in 2017, was selected 20th overall in the first round by the Milwaukee Brewers. Two other players who were set to play for the Sweets in 2020, Nick Yorke and Kyle Harrison, were selected by the Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants, respectively.
Mitchell, who played at UCLA, was a highly touted prospect coming out of high school, where he was ranked as one of the top 50 prospects in his class. The California outfielder was originally drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 14th round in 2017, but ultimately decided to stick with his commitment to UCLA.
For the Sweets, Mitchell made an immediate impact. Batting leadoff in his first game, Mitchell took the first pitch he saw and launched it over the scoreboard in right field, landing in the parking lot of Borleske Stadium. Mitchell would finish the night 3 for 4 in his five plate appearances, adding a double and a triple with four runs batted in. He finished the summer with a .462 batting average and a .563 OBP.
Yorke, who had committed to the University of Arizona, is a middle infielder from Archbishop Mitty in Campbell, California. He was signed to play for the Sweets this summer with his brother Joey, a freshman at Boise State University, before the COVID-19 pandemic ended the 2020 West Coast League season. The right-handed hitter was a top-100 player in the country in this year’s Perfect Game recruiting class rankings and one who Wildcat coach Jay Johnson last fall described as “Plain and simple, no matter who is out there…is always the best player on the field in my opinion.” The Red Sox selected Yorke with the 17th overall pick Wednesday. They must sign him before the August 1 deadline.
Another California player, left-handed pitcher Kyle Harrison, was selected by the San Francisco Giants with the 85th overall pick in the third round. A top-50 prospect in his class, the left-hander was a prized piece of UCLA’s 2020 recruiting class, which was ranked 4th nationally by Baseball America. Harrison was seen as potential impact player during his freshman year, with UCLA manager John Savage describing him as “one of the top left handed pitchers in the country,” who “will have an opportunity to be a weekend starter right away.”
Preparations for 2021 already underway; Fans can rollover tickets from 2020 to 2021, coaching staff expected to return
WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Originally expecting to travel to British Columbia to open their 2020 West Coast League season today, instead the Walla Walla Sweets unfortunately announce the cancelation of the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects felt across the Northwest.
“We are disappointed that there will not be Sweets baseball this summer,” Sweets general manager Cody Miller said. “We did everything we could as an organization and with the West Coast League to hold a season this summer, but unfortunately there became too many restrictions where we couldn’t provide our fans the experience at the ballpark that they have come to love and enjoy.”
Simultaneously, league members Cowlitz, Port Angeles, Ridgefield and Yakima Valley also are canceling their seasons. Five other teams in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia cancelled their seasons earlier this spring.
The Sweets remain committed to Walla Walla and the community for 2021 and beyond and are already preparing for next summer. Miller also said he expects the return of former MLB All-Star Jeff Cirillo, the Sweets new manager, along with assistants Larry Price and Jarrod Molnaa.
“In this season of pandemic and social unrest, we all want baseball to remind us of the best things in life,” Miller said. “The Sweets are committed to being on the field in 2021 and continue to believe that sports are a powerful force for equity and a sense of shared community in our region.”
Despite the cancellation news, Miller is grateful to see the progress made in Walla Walla County by advancing to Phase 2 of Washington state’s reopening plan and looks forward to having community events resume in Walla Walla this summer and fall.
“One thing this does allow us to do is get a head start on preparing for next season, and I can’t wait to see everyone in Borleske a year from now,” Miller said.
He also offered some additional news on pivoting to the 2021 season:
• In addition to the coaching staff, Miller expects many of the players from the 2020 roster to return for 2021.
• The Sweets will have a 32-game home schedule in 2021, up from 30 scheduled home games in 2020.
“Season ticket members with 2020 tickets will be able to roll over their tickets automatically to next year — and they’ll receive tickets to two additional games at no additional charge,” Miller said. Season ticket packages for new buyers will go on sale later this month, he added.
• The Sweets front office has already begun contacting ticket buyers and sponsors about the canceled season, and are providing options for moving purchases and sponsorship packages to next season.
• The 12 current teams in the WCL will be joined next year by an expansion team in Nanaimo, British Columbia, which joined the league earlier this spring.
Team continues to prepare for 11th season with delayed opening
Today, the West Coast League announced a delayed start to the 2020 season, originally scheduled for June 5, to early July, as a result of the recent announcements from governing officials in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia, the states and province in which the league’s 12 teams are located.
The Sweets remain committed to playing the 2020 season at Borleske Stadium this summer.
“Unfortunately, starting the season on June 5 started becoming less and less realistic,” Sweets general manager Cody Miller said. “But, delaying the start to early July will allow us to monitor the situation as it develops. It will also make sure we are taking all the necessary steps to ensure that we provide a safe experience for our fans, players, coaches, and staff at the stadium.”
Miller also added that the team will follow all local, state, and federal guidelines while continuing to prepare for the season.
“We want to get back out playing as soon as possible, just like everyone else in the sports world,” he said. “Everyone is itching to get back to sense of normalcy, and I think we can be a big part of that here in Walla Walla when we are able to return to the field and have baseball back again.”
Due to other local, state, and provincial restrictions, some WCL teams will not be fielding a team this summer, the league announcement stated. But all 12 teams are committed to playing in 2021, and a 13th team in Nanaimo, British Columbia, will join the WCL next year.
With the delay of the season and some teams opting not to play, Miller said this will give the team time to prepare for a different season experience this year.
“This was definitely not the type of season I was expecting for my first year in this role,” Miller said. “But we’ll adjust. We are using this time and change of scheduling to implement social distancing at the ballpark, a focus to online ticket sales, and other practices. We will follow local, state, and federal health and safety guidelines while developing these new practices.”
The West Coast League will release a revised schedule in the next several weeks. All previously purchased tickets will be valid in the revised summer schedule and single-game and group ticket buyers will be able to transfer those tickets to new games as needed.Read Less
Connor returns for second season with the Sweets
Last season, Connor Cirillo got his first taste of collegiate summer baseball with the Walla Walla Sweets while his father, Jeff, rooted for him from the stands.
This summer, however, the two will share the field as Connor will be managed by his dad.
While father-son combinations in sports present challenges, Connor said he is embracing the opportunity to be coached by the two-time MLB All-Star.
“My dad was always my coach all of my childhood, so it will be nice to have the childhood-like connection that we built over the years,” Cirillo said.
Connor is already following in the footsteps of his dad in multiple ways. The younger Cirillo recently concluded his freshman season at USC, which was Jeff’s alma mater. They both had decorated high school careers as well, with Connor playing four varsity seasons at Bellevue High School while sporting a .300 career batting average during his prep career.
Connor said that his father and siblings attending USC played a role in his decision to attend the school, and that he had his sights on it since his freshman year of high school. He also said his first season at USC was beneficial in many ways.
“All around, USC has a great environment and all the guys were incredibly welcoming to the new guys,” Cirillo said. “On top of that, Coach Gill and the rest of the staff prepared us to beat teams like Vanderbilt and TCU.”
While this will be the first season on the Sweets for Jeff, Connor will make his second stint at Borleske Stadium. As a freshly-graduated high school senior last season, Connor hit .278 in the West Coast League for Walla Walla.
The younger Cirillo said that having the opportunity to play against bigger and older players helped to prepare for his collegiate season.
“Competing with guys up to six years older than me and to see the physicality some dudes had was a good opener for myself,” Cirillo said.
The Cirillos have shared a strong love for baseball their entire lives, and now have the chance to build upon that passion at the college level. Jeff played a major role in Connor’s liking to baseball when the latter was a young kid. Jeff’s time in the big leagues helped Connor start to gravitate toward the game, especially when the elder Cirillo threw batting practice to his sons at major league ballparks. While Jeff introduced him to the game, Connor said his own desires and work ethic took precedent in pursuit of his baseball career.
From a managing standpoint, coaching your son can be difficult, but Jeff said he and Connor understand that all players need fair treatment.
“All of the players I have ever coached seemed to gravitate toward transparency and being fair and keeping them accountable,” Cirillo said. “I would be doing him and the team a disservice if I didn’t coach him the same way I would coach any other Sweet.”
With the season opener just over a month away, Connor said he is excited to get back to baseball and return to Walla Walla.
“I really hope the Sweets will be able to play in the near future,” Cirillo said. “Hopefully some Cirillo magic will be shown in the summer!”Read Less
A freshman at Boise State and native of Campbell, California, Joe made an immediate impact in his first year as a Bronco. In 12 games he hit .275 and was tied for fifth in the Mountain West Conference with a .463 on-base percentage.
While his season was unfortunately cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Joe said he learned a lot in the short time he was able to play, including how to step up and help his team in different facets of the game when someone is having an off night.
“My biggest takeaway from my 12 games this season at Boise State is how important it is to play as a team and pick each other up,” Yorke said. “This is what allowed us to be successful over the few games we were able to play.”
Outside of playing baseball, Joe enjoys playing golf, playing the guitar, which he has known how to do since he was six years old, and rooting for the Los Angeles Angels.
Nick, a soon-to-be graduate of Archbishop Mitty High School and one of the top prospects in the 2020 class, is committed to the University of Arizona to continue his playing career in the Pac-12. He said the coaching staff stood out the most to him during his selection process.
“The second I stepped on campus I had a gut feeling and knew I wanted to be there in the coming years,” Yorke said. “The coaching staff was great to me and we built a very comfortable relationship.”
Despite both their seasons coming to unexpected ends, the two brothers continue to polish their game and stay sharp for when baseball does return. Nick has a batting cage set up in his backyard and routinely plays catch with his younger brother.
Even though Joe and Nick compete with each other often, Nick said it motivates them both to be better. Nick also said his brother’s leadership stands out the most to him.
“We compete in almost anything we can, but he is one of my best friends and I learn a lot from him,” Yorke said.
The Sweets season is still scheduled to begin Friday June 5 against the Kelowna Falcons. First pitch is set for 6:35.
During the challenges currently facing the world, team and league remain committed to all constituents
Over the past weeks, our lives have quickly changed because of the COVID-19 virus that our city, our state, our nation, and the world is struggling to deal with. Our priority during this time is the health and safety of all members of Sweets Baseball, from our staffs to our players, coaches, our fans, host families, and business partners. Each of these groups has helped build and support the Sweets over the past 10 years in Walla Walla.
The Sweets remain committed to Walla Walla and its amazing community. We also remain committed to playing West Coast League Baseball this summer at Borleske Stadium — but only when safe to do so, and in accordance with local, state, and federal guidelines. We will continue to monitor the developing situation and respond accordingly.
We share the disappointment with all local high school and collegiate athletes who won’t be able to play the sports they love and have been committed to for most of their lives. We are looking forward to soon seeing them on the playing field again.
The Sweets urge residents to follow local, state, and federal guidelines to not only keep yourselves safe, but to keep your families and neighbors safe as well. Wash your hands. Use hand sanitizer. Practice social distancing. Be patient with each other. And look out for one another.
We are in this together. We will get through this together. In doing so, we will be able to return to our daily lives with friends and families at the places we love here in Walla Walla. We can’t wait to see everyone again.
– Cody Miller
General MangerRead Less
The Sweets are set to welcome a new manager and pitching coach for the 2020 season, along with the return of an assistant coach.
Jeff Cirillo, a two-time MLB All-Star who hit .296 across 14 seasons, will take over as manager. The former major leaguer played over 1,600 games in his career and was an All-Star for Milwaukee in 1997 and Colorado in 2000.
“Being manager of the Sweets has always been of interest to me,” Cirillo said. “I believe I have a responsibility to the players, coaches and Walla Walla to provide a winning culture for all.”
Since retiring from the show in 2007, Cirillo has been involved in numerous activities. He currently works as a scout for the Los Angeles Angels and has also been involved with TV broadcasts for the Milwaukee Brewers. Outside of baseball, he has three sons and is active in his community.
One of his sons, Connor, played for the Sweets last season and will return in 2020.
“I have coached Connor for several years and I give him his freedom,” Cirillo said. “He knows that results matter and guys who play well in all areas get rewarded with playing time.”
Also joining the staff as a first-year pitching coach is Jarrod Molnaa. A Montana State Billings graduate, Molnaa recorded 8 wins last season for the Yellowjackets, a single-season program record. Prior to MSUB, Molnaa spent one season at Bellevue University and two years at Walla Walla Community College, where he was a two-time NWAC second-team selection.
After playing for the Sweets in 2017, Molnaa says he is excited to return to the team as a coach.
“I loved my time as a Sweet in 2017,” Molnaa said. “I think that experience is going to help me be a guiding voice to all the guys that come in for the summer as we work our way through the schedule.”
Rounding out the coaching staff is assistant Larry Price. A Boise, Idaho, native, Price has served as an associate scout with the Atlanta Braves since 2010 and held the same position with the Red Sox from 1995 to 2003.
“I am counting the days down to get back to Walla Walla,” Price said. I’m also privileged to work alongside Jeff Cirillo. He will bring a vast array of knowledge and he relates well with our ball players.”
With many players returning from last season, Price said the team should hit the ground running.
“I’m very excited to get back with the 10 to 12 of our returners,” Price said. “I felt we had a phenomenal chemistry last summer, and to get a great nucleus back is going to be a great advantage for our success.”Read Less
Sweets now at nine returning players from the 2019 Squad
The Sweets announced the signing of two-right handed pitchers Thursday, as brothers Jake and Nathan Dahle will return to the team in 2020. With these additions, the Sweets roster now sits at nine players, six of whom are pitchers.
Jake, a Tremonton, Utah, native and University of Utah sophomore, pitched in four games for the Sweets last season and posted a 4.00 ERA with seven strikeouts. As he enters his second season, Jake has his goals set out.
“I want to keep getting stronger and gain a greater consistency in all aspects of pitching,” Dahle said. “I also want to improve my velocity, curveball command and just overall consistency.”
After pitching one season in both leagues, Jake said the Pac-12 and West Coast League draw a lot of similarities.
“A lot of guys I play against in the WCL are guys I face in the spring,” Dahle said. “The atmospheres, fans and places to play are great in both leagues as well.”
While they are brothers, Jake and Nathan have gone down different paths in college. Nathan, a freshman at College of Southern Idaho, left the game for two years before returning for the Sweets last summer. The 6-foot-6 right-hander went on a full-time, two-year mission trip to Mexico City starting in 2016 that stretched to December 2018.
Nathan’s transition back onto the diamond was not easy.
“I was grateful for the opportunity I had to serve, but the comeback was extremely hard,” Dahle said. “Dedication in the weight room, running and throwing helped me catch my rhythm that I needed to be ready for Walla Walla.”
Nathan turned in an impressive campaign last year for Walla Walla. He posted a 2.87 ERA with 31 strikeouts across 14 appearances.
With the 2020 season looming, Nathan looks to build off his success and hit the ground running this year.
“I am highly anticipating my return to Walla Walla,” Dahle said. “I can’t wait to play in a competitive league such as the WCL.”
All three return for their second season in Walla Walla
The Sweets announced the signing of three players Friday, as the team roster now sits at seven players.
Mason Kokodynski, Wyatt Boone and Nick Irwin, all of whom were members of the 2019 squad, will dawn the Sweets uniform once again this season. All three players are right-handed pitchers and make up the third group of players brought in by first-year manager Jeff Cirillo.
Kokodynski, a Phoenix, Arizona, native, currently attends Loyola Marymount University where he is a freshman. The 6-foot-4 right-hander posted a 3-0 record for the Sweets last season and struck out 30 batters across 26.1 innings. Prior to college, he was ranked the 58th best prospect in Arizona and was three-year letter winner at Brophy College Prep.
LMU begins its season tonight with a three-game weekend series against Washington.
Like Kokodynski, Boone is a right-handed pitcher and enters his second season in Walla Walla. The 5-foot-10 righty from San Juan Capistrano, California, is a hard thrower with a fastball that tops out in the low 90s. He also mixes in a 12-6 curveball and a changeup to keep hitters off balance.
Now at his third school in Walla Walla Community College, Boone is well traveled at this point in his career. After spending his freshman season at Seattle University, Boone posted solid numbers for Saddleback College in 2019. He finished with a 3.24 earned run average across 16.2 innings, allowed six earned runs, and fanned 22 batters.
Walla Walla CC gets its 2020 season started February 29 in a home matchup against Tacoma.
Currently in his sophomore campaign at Northwest Nazarene University, Irwin posted a 4.58 ERA with three wins, two saves and 20 strikeouts last year. He’s made one appearance for NNU so far this year, in which he struck out four hitters in 2.1 innings pitched.
Irwin resides in Kennewick, Washington, one hour away from Walla Walla. He is looking to forward to donning a Sweets uniform once again.
“It (the Sweets) gives me an environment filled with teammates that strive for success in a league that is filled with competition,” Irwin said.
Farmer and Stubbings each return for their second seasons in Walla Walla
Both juniors at Division II Colorado-Mesa, Stubbings and Farmer have enjoyed successful collegiate campaigns from both individual and team perspectives. Their efforts helped lead the Mavericks to a 53-12 record, a 26th Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference title (sixth consecutive), and an appearance in the Division II National Championship last season. Their quest for a national title in 2020 begins today with a match-up against Nova Southeastern.
With Stubbings back in the fold, the Sweets have a dangerous power threat in the middle of the lineup. The 6-foot-1 junior from Parker, Colorado, hit .359 with 24 home runs and 108 runs batted in in his first two seasons as a Maverick. He was named First Team All-RMAC last season and was Second Team All-RMAC after leading the Mavericks in home runs, RBI’s, slugging percentage and fielding percentage his freshman season.
Sweets Assistant Coach Larry Price is excited to have the 2018 RMAC Freshman Position Player of the Year back on board.
“Jordan brings with him a great bat,” Price said. “He’s a middle of the order hitter who can hit the ball well to all fields. He never stops working and strives to be the best hitter he can be.”
Stubbings is happy to return to Walla Walla for many reasons, including getting to play in front of family members from the area.
“The added factor of some of my family members being in the area helps make up for the time that I don’t get to spend with them when I’m in Colorado,” Stubbings said. “I love seeing my little cousins at games and seeing their faces light up.”
Like Stubbings, Farmer also earned First Team All-RMAC honors in the 2019 season. That selection was the second for Farmer in two years, as he finished last season with a .328 average, seven home runs and 46 RBI’s. The San Jacinto, California, native is a versatile player defensively as well as he can catch and play around the infield.
Farmer’s experience at the national championship last year has him hungry for more this go-around .
“I still get chills thinking about it,” Farmer said. “It was something we were very proud to be apart of and it was neat to put our mark in the history book. Our goal is to get back there this year.”
While they are both great individual talents, what stands out the most to Price about the two players is their selflessness.
“They both put the Sweets club before themselves and are top notch teammates,” Price said. “They come from a college program that prepares them extremely well not just on the field, but off of it as well. I’m so excited to have both quality young men back in the program.”
Its the first announced signings for manager Jeff Cirillo, who will begin his first season with the Sweets this summer.
Folz, currently at St. John’s, hit .276 with 19 RBI’s for the Sweets last season. Before St. John’s, the Monroe, Washington, native spent one season each at Palomar College and Northwest Nazarene University. At Palomar, he posted a .333 average with two home runs and 19 RBI’s.
Last summer, Folz delivered one of the best moments of the season with a 9th inning, go-ahead grand slam in game two of the opening round of the WCL playoffs agianst the Corvallis Knights. He still remembers how special the moment was.
“The grand slam definitely ranks number one in my favorite baseball moments ever,” Folz said. “It’s what every kid dreams of in the backyard. I was just fortunate enough to get the opportunity to live it out.”
St. John’s kicks off its season on February 14th at Kennesaw State, where they begin a weekend trip through the state of Gerogia. They will also face Georgia State, and the 19th ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the road trip.
With Hirai, he returns for his third summer with the Sweets. The Pasco, Washington native and current Central Washington player posted a 1.94 ERA for the Sweets last season, held opponents to a .125 average and threw 11 consecutive scoreless innings to end the season. He previously played locally at Walla Walla Community College for the Warriors in 2018 and 2019 before transferring to CWU.
While he’s enjoyed individual success, Hirai’s experiences with teammates, coaches, and the community have stood out to him the most.
“The coaching staff and players are awesome, and the community always provides a lot of support,” Hirai said. “Getting to play with and against such great competition has helped me grow as a player, and the coaches have given me great tips to help me develop as well.”
Central Washington heads to California to start the 2020 season this Friday, January 31st where they will take on Stanislaus State for a weekend series.
The Sweets begin the 2020 season on Friday, June 5th in Canada at the Kelowna Falcons. The Sweets first home game is Friday, June 12th at Borleske Stadium. Season Tickets, mini plans, and now Single Game tickets are on sale at WallaWallaSweets.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the downtown store at 109 E. Main Street, or via phone at 509-522-BALL.
WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Ohio native Brandon Monty will be the play-by-by broadcaster and director of media relations for the 2020 season.
Currently a senior at Ohio University, Monty spent last summer as the play-by-play broadcaster of the Mat-Su Miners of the Alaska Baseball League. Monty also broadcasts for BobcatTV at OU for the soccer, field hockey, women’s basketball and baseball teams.
“After getting my first dose of collegiate summer baseball last year, I am very excited to be joining the Sweets this season,” Monty said. “This is an incredible opportunity and I am very much looking forward to being a part of this organization and the community.”
Monty grew up in Painesville, Ohio, 30 minutes northeast of Cleveland and the hometown Indians. Despite his playing career ending in 10th grade, he knew he wanted to continue to be involved in baseball. He credits current Indians radio broadcaster Tom Hamilton as a major source of inspiration to pursue a career in broadcasting.
“I listened to him almost every day every summer. The way he calls games truly inspires me. The passion, energy, enthusiasm and way he painted the picture of every game is something I want to emulate when I’m in the booth,” Monty said.
Sweets general manger Cody Miller is looking forward to having Monty on board as the new voice of the Sweets.
“Brandon’s quality of work in the Alaska Baseball League really stood out last summer, and I’ve heard nothing but great things about him,” said Miller. “I look forward to working with him this year and I think Sweets fans will enjoy his commentary this summer for the team.”
On top of play-by-play, Monty has also worked as a reporter at OU. He’s been involved with WOUB Bobcat Showcase, which covers all OU sports, Hardwood Heroes, a high school basketball TV show, and Gridiron Glory, a high school football TV show. As both a reporter and broadcaster, he has seen the kind of positive impact sports can have on a community.
“The more you work in sports media, the more you realize that sports have a substantial impact off the field and in the community they are in,” Monty said. “One of my favorite things about being in this industry is getting to know people and sharing stories and experiences. Sports fans are passionate and want their teams covered in the best way, and because of that, I always want to do the best job I can.”
The first broadcast will be on the road as the Sweets open their 2020 season against the Kelowna Falcons on June 5th. The Sweets first home game is also against the Falcons on Friday, June 12th. Tickets will be on sale later this month.
Former standout third baseman replaces Mutz as Manager
WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Two-time Major League All-Star Jeff Cirillo has been announced as the new manager for the Walla Walla Sweets.
Cirillo, currently a scout for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, had a 14-year playing career in the Major Leagues that included the Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres, Minnesota Twins, Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners. He played in more than 1,600 games, compiling a career .296 batting average with 112 home runs and 727 RBIs. He was an All-Star for Milwaukee in 1997 and for Colorado in 2000.
“I’m excited to take the next step and coach at a higher level,” Cirillo said. “Being in Walla Walla last year to watch my son Connor play (on the Sweets) and be a part of the team, I look forward to being a part of the Walla Walla community and to bring a championship to the Sweets organization.”
Cirillo is an alumnus of the University of Southern California, where he originally was a pitcher for the Trojans before moving to third base. In 1991, the Brewers selected Cirillo in the 11th round of the MLB draft. Just three years later, he made his major league debut with Milwaukee on May 11, 1994. While a great hitter at the plate, Cirillo was also a stout defensive third baseman. He currently shares the major league record of 99 consecutive error-less games at third base.
Cirillo is the third manager for the Sweets. He succeeds manager Frank Mutz, who stepped down after the 2019 season. Mutz managed the Sweets from 2015 to 2019, collecting 153 wins and a .531 winning percentage and led the Sweets to a postseason appearance in 2019.
“It’s great to build off the success that Frank and (team president) Zachary (Fraser) established here, and to be able to carry that into 2020,” Cirillo said. “Coming off a playoff appearance last summer, it’s a testament to Frank to be able to come into a position like this and have that to build on.”
Cirillo’s Major League background and connections to colleges and programs across the country has Sweets general manger Cody Miller excited for the outlook of the team next season.
“It’s a fantastic asset to bring Jeff on as manager,” Miller said. “His experience and success he had in the Major Leagues is something that will be a great benefit for the Sweets in the WCL. I know our group of players next year are going to get some of the best coaching and instruction both on and off the field. I couldn’t be more excited about next season.”
Cirillo and assistant coach Larry Price have been working on building the Sweets’ 2020 roster for the past several weeks.
“The roster is very competitive,” Cirillo said. “It is going to have a great blend of top recruits from various schools and the leadership of returning players from the 2019 team. I think we are in for a good season.”
The Sweets will begin announcing the 2020 roster in late January.
Cirillo is also a partner in Pacific Baseball Ventures, which owns and operates the Sweets and the Yakima Valley Pippins. He currently resides in Bellevue, Wash., and loves spending time with his three sons, Cole, Carson, and Connor. Connor, who was a member of the Sweets in 2019, is currently a freshman at USC and will be on the Trojans’ baseball squad this coming spring.
The Sweets open their 2020 home season June 12 against the Kelowna Falcons at Borleske Stadium. Season tickets, mini plans, and ticket vouchers are now on sale at the Sweets Shoppe in downtown Walla Walla at 109 E. Main St., or by calling 509-522-BALL. Single-game tickets for the 2020 season go on sale in January.Read Less
WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Pacific Baseball Ventures, owner of the Walla Walla Sweets, announced today new leadership for the team’s second decade, which begins with the 2020 season.
Cody Miller, a three-year member of the Walla Walla Sweets front office, has been named general manager of the organization, which competes in the West Coast League.
Miller, who has a degree in sports management from Washington State University, joined the team as an operations intern for the 2017 season. That fall, he was promoted to a full-time employee, focusing on ticket sales, sponsorship development and stadium operations. His role was expanded prior to the 2019 season to include overseeing food and beverage operations at Borleske Stadium, in addition to his duties as assistant general manager.
“Baseball has a great history in Walla Walla, and I’ve had the privilege of meeting people in the area who not only are great Sweets fans, but really care about the organization and our goals and expectations,” Miller said. “We want to build on that as we move into our 11th season, and grow our partnership base and our fan base.”
Miller’s promotion follows the departure of Zachary Fraser, who will end his active role as of Nov. 30, 2019. Pacific Baseball Ventures (PBV) selected Fraser to start the Sweets in 2010 as general manager and team president, and also the Yakima Valley Pippins in 2014. He informed the PBV partners that he would not be returning for the 2020 season, and has been working with both teams to prepare an effective transition plan.
“We appreciate Zachary’s many contributions over the years and welcome Cody, who in many ways represents the development opportunities this team and league represent. It is a tribute to Zachary that Cody is ready to assume these additional responsibilities,” according to Seattle Mariners’ Chairman and PBV partner John Stanton. PBV partner Peter van Oppen noted, “they are big shoes to fill but we are eager to watch Cody build on the Sweets’ already solid foundation.”
During Fraser’s tenure, the Sweets advanced to the playoffs three times in their 10-year history, including a trip to the WCL championship series in 2011. The Pippins, who will enter their seventh season in 2020, also advanced to the playoffs three times during their first four years, including becoming the winningest WCL expansion team over its first two years and advancing to the playoffs in its inaugural season.
Both teams have also produced several professional players, including at the major league level — 2013 Walla Walla alum Matt Hall joined the Detroit Tigers in September 2018 and 2011 Sweets alum Eric Yardley advanced to San Diego Padres this past August. Reed Garrett, the Pippins’ opening day pitcher in 2014, made the Tigers’ Opening Day roster this past spring.
Fraser will pursue other ventures after leading the first 10 years of Sweets baseball and the first six years of the Pippins. “I am excited for Cody to have this opportunity in Walla Walla and for Pippins GM Jeff Garretson to expand his role in Yakima,” said Fraser. “They are both talented leaders in a good position to continue the long-term success that we’ve built over the last 10 years.”
“My family and I love Walla Walla, have developed dear friends in Yakima, and are excited to leave the Sweets and the Pippins in good hands as we pursue our next story,” he said. ”A decade is a long time in the West Coast League!”
Miller is leading the search for a new Sweets manager for the 2020 after the departure of Frank Mutz, who managed the team from 2015-2019.
Season tickets, mini plans and flex plans are currently on sale for the 2020 season at the Sweets office in downtown Walla Walla and will be ready for purchase online no later than Jan. 15, 2020.Read Less
Walla Walla, WA – The Sweets will begin their second decade of baseball in Walla Walla with a visit from the Kelowna Falcons from north of the border. After six road games to start the 2020 season, the Sweets will host the Falcons for a three game weekend series beginning Friday, June 12th. Walla Walla will finish the homestand with three more games against the Portland Pickles.
2020 will see the 11th season of Sweets Baseball in Walla Walla. The Sweets are coming off their first playoff appearance since 2013. They would eventually lose a hard-fought divisional series to the Corvallis Knights, eventual four-time consecutive WCL champions. Walla Walla will be looking to make the playoffs in back to back years for the first time in franchise history.
After the opening home series with Kelowna and Portland, the Sweets will have one more WCL homestand in June when they host the Cowlitz Black Bears. Before the home opener, the Sweets will travel to Kelowna to begin their season, followed by a second three-game road series with the Bend Elks. Walla Walla will then finish out the first half of the season by hosting the Ridgefield Raptors to start July, before heading to arch rival Yakima Valley for a three-game road series over the July 4 weekend.
The second half of the schedule sees the Sweets at home for the majority of July, with 16 total home games. Visits from Wenatchee, Bend, and Bellingham will be played at historic Borleske Stadium before the All-Star break, with the Pippins making their way east to end the month.
The Sweets finish off the regular season home schedule against Corvallis, looking to extract a little revenge from last year’s playoff.
The schedule features 54 WCL games, and three non-league opponents. Dates and non-league opponents will be announced later in the off-season.
June home dates (11):
June 12-13-14: Kelowna
June 16-17-18: Portland
June 23-24-25: Cowlitz Black Bears
June 30: Ridgefield Raptors
July home dates (16):
July 1-2: Ridgefield Raptors
July 7-8-9: Wenatchee AppleSox
July 10-11-12: Bend Elks
July 17-18-19: Bellingham Bells
July 28-29-30: Yakima Valley Pippins
August home dates (3):
August 7-8-9: Corvallis KnightsRead Less
He leaves after 5 seasons with the most wins in team history, and following a return to the WCL Playoffs
Frank Mutz, who has skippered the Walla Walla Sweets since the 2015 season, shared with team president Zachary Fraser that he will not be returning to manage the club in 2020. Mutz and his family live in Las Vegas, NV, where his year-round employment in education and education development will not allow him to spend the summer months in the Pacific Northwest.
“I have loved being a small part of the Sweets Family over these past five seasons,” said Mutz. “I will miss the time with friends at the stadium, competing every night in a great stadium, and the relationships with the players and coaches that form each summer.
“I will cherish the time that I spent in Walla Walla and the friendships that will continue.”
Mutz arrived as a decorated former minor league player, MLB scout, and high school coach from Southern California. A challenging first season on the field was followed by 3 winning seasons out of the last 4, including a return to the WCL playoffs following the 2019 campaign. His total regular season wins (153) and winning percentage (.531) are team records.
Two accomplishments stand out: Mutz’ ability to work with major universities such as UW, USC, UCLA and other major programs with strong baseball pedigrees, and his efforts to help junior-college players connect and sign with the best D1 programs. His deep network of connections in the college game was a benefit to players who often don’t have assistance in the process of finding the best fit for the next step in their playing and academic careers.
“Frank has become a dear friend, and someone who never hesitated to roll up his sleeves and engage in our community,” said Fraser. “From cleaning the stadium when we were short-handed, to visiting community events, churches, and other service opportunities, Frank dove right in.
“We appreciate his efforts on our behalf, and his work to develop good players and young men. I look forward to staying close to Frank and his family.”
Mutz regular-season record by year (playoffs marked with an *):
The search for the next manager of the Sweets has already started and the selection will be announced later in the off-season.
Photo Credit: Hutson Photography/Walla Walla Sweets
Blistering .560 batting average, 1.287 OPS paces Sweets to first-ever 6-0 start in WCL Play
Caulfield has led off the season for the Sweets, and has paced the offense to a league-leading 7.83 runs scored per game. He is hitting .560 on the season, with an OPS of 1.287. In addition to his prowess at the plate, he leads the league with 7 stolen bases.
Caulfield, who signed with the Sweets late in 2018, is currently enrolled at Santa Barbara City College.
“We’re are excited for Patrick,” said manager Frank Mutz. “He is a big reason our offense has been so strong to start the season.”
The Sweets are off to the best start in franchise history, sitting at 6-0 as they enter a 2-game non-league match-up against the Highline Bears on Tuesday, 6/11 and Wednesday 6/12.Read Less
Le Boida and Folz to bring pop from the left side of the plate this summer
Folz, currently at Palomar College, hit .294 with six home runs and 28 RBIs last spring for NCAA Division II member Northwest Nazarene. He started 49 of the team’s 50 games in 2018 and sported a .508 slugging percentage.
The Monroe, Wash., product was an all-state performer his senior year and was a first-team, all-conference choice in his junior and senior campaigns.
Le Boida, who plans to play collegiately at Pepperdine, was recognized late last spring as one of the top 60 West Coast prospects and was invited to the Under Armour All-America tryout in June.
The 6’4″ 240lb utility-man transferred to Aliso Niguel High School in 2018. Le Boida has played for the SoCal Mariners scout team and SoCal National Team Identification Series squad. He played in the National Class Championship in 2017 and batted .378 in his freshman year at JSerra High School.
Le Boida is anxious for the summer season to get started.
“I can’t wait to play for the Sweets,” Le Boida said. “I’m really looking forward to playing almost every day with the kind of talent that will be out there. I can’t wait to compete my hardest and see how I match up against the best.”Read Less
Tristan King and Chazz Martinez look to make their mark on Sweets baseball this summer.
WALLA WALLA – A pair of Golden State baseball stars are the latest to be inked by the West Coast League’s Walla Walla Sweets, the team announced Tuesday.
Martinez, currently at the University of California-Santa Barbara, is the brother of former Sweets catcher and Arizona Diamondbacks prospect, Renae Martinez. The younger Martinez is a southpaw who can pitch, play first base or roam the outfield. He was a four-year letter winner at Corona Del Mar High School.
He was named to the Pacific Coast League’s first team his junior and senior seasons and the California Interscholastic Federation’s first team last spring after hitting .383 with three home runs and 25 runs batted in.
King registered a .346 batting average with 22 RBI for Palomar College in 2018. His resume also included 31 runs and 10 doubles during a campaign in which Palomar won the California Community College Athletic Association’s Pacific Coast Conference with a 17-7 record (28-17 overall) and reached the second round of the CCCAA’s Southern California Regional.
“I just hope that I can get in peak shape for the summer and next spring year, and be in the right mental and physical states to play baseball the way I know I can,” said King, who is redshirting at Northern Illinois University.
King, a catcher and third baseman, said he is excited to play for the Sweets for a number of reasons.
“It’s in the West Coast League, a really good baseball conference, I’m playing with some old teammates from high school that I haven’t seen in years, (and) this is my first summer season in two years,” King said. “I am really eager to play and develop and travel to new and exciting places playing baseball with an organization that I have only heard positive things
CDJR of Walla Walla is set to delivers the heat for Opening Day 2019
Opening Day is a sensory experience.
Fresh cut grass (both visual and the smell). Field paint. Vibrant colors displayed in newly printed signs. Batting practice music. The sizzle of grilling hot dogs. The chill of a favorite cold beverage.
All of these evoke strong connections to memories of experiences past and visions of experiences in the future. The joy of Opening Day allows the sensory to fill our dreams of a bright future and appreciate the memories of a warm past.
The Sweets will welcome their 10th Opening Day – an appropriate time for a “woah” – when they host division opponent Corvallis Knights to Borleske Stadium on Tuesday, June 4, 2019.
“For me, Opening Day represents the unofficial start to summer,” says general manager J.C. Biagi. “I can’t wait to be back in the ballpark to see so many friends and familiar faces.”
Biagi knows well the excitement of Opening Day, having spent 5 seasons in the dugout while (now) team president Zachary Fraser was the general manager. Instead of lineup cards and home plate meetings, Biagi’s attention will shift to fan experience and the pageantry of the game. Fraser is excited to see him perform in that role.
“J.C. was always very detail-oriented in the dugout, and I know he will bring the same approach to the stadium and fan experience,” he says.
Corvallis – who is the defending WCL Champion – opened the 2018 season at Borleske, with the Sweets taking 2-of-3. In fact, the Knights have struggled in the historic ballpark over the past 3 seasons, going 2-7 against the Sweets. While it isn’t always about the action on the field – Opening Day is more a party than a ballgame – it is fun to anticipate a competitive series that can go a long to setting the tone in the first half race.
Opening Day continues to be presented by Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Walla Walla. This locally-owned, locally-invested automotive dealer enjoys the energy around the biggest game of the early season.
“Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Walla Walla is excited to be partnered up with the Walla Walla Sweets for its 10th Season!,” said managing partner Joel Olsen.
As part of the continuing partnership, CDJR of Walla Walla is sponsoring both a Hat Giveaway to the first 1000 fans and Post-game Fireworks.
“What makes our partnership so great is that both our organizations are locally owned companies who believe in Quality and Community,” Olsen continued. “Opening Day is going to be ‘THE’ event you won’t want to miss. Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Walla Walla is proud to be this year’s Presenting Sponsor of Opening Day.”
For long-time fans (how cool is it that the team has been around long enough to have “long-time fans”?!), Opening Day will have some comfortable familiarities – part of that sensory engagement of memories of a warm past – but it won’t simply be a tired repeat of the same sheet music. New faces, new products to experience, upgrades to the pre-game experience, and the beginning of the celebration of 10 years in the Valley will be a ton of fun. And don’t forget the hats – everyone loves what has become the tradition of one of the best collectibles in the community.
Let’s make sure that we start the season with the energy that it deserves.Read Less
Son of former Major Leaguer sets off to make his own mark on the West Coast League this summer as a member of the Walla Walla Sweets.
WALLA WALLA – Jeff Cirillo and his son, Connor, have at least a couple of things in common.
One excelled on high school baseball diamonds, the other is doing so presently.
Jeff played baseball at the University of Southern California. Connor will soon follow suit.
This summer, Jeff will be rooting on Connor when he ventures into the West Coast League wars as a member of the Walla Walla Sweets.
Connor, a past member of the Sweets select team and a Bellevue High School graduate to-be, has enjoyed his share of productivity in his first three years of varsity high school baseball. A soon-to-be, four-year starter and lead-off hitter, he’ll carry a career .334 batting average into this spring. Connor hit .412 in 2018 and is hoping to reach the .450 plateau this season.
The Medina, Wash., resident is hopeful he can bring success to a program in need of a boost.
“We have lost a lot of guys over the last two years,” Connor said. “It’s up to me and two or three other studs to carry the team. A personal goal that I have is to with MVP of the KingCo League.”
Connor, a participant in the 2015 Can Am Futures Series and Junior Northwest Championships, said his decision to play collegiately at USC was based on a childhood dream.
“I love California and playing in good weather,” he said. “I love the coaches and feel at home when I’m at the campus and with the team.”
His parents attending and his brother currently enrolled also factored in his wanting to be a Trojan, he said.
Connor, a past MLK Perfect Game all-tournament selection and a 2016 Perfect Game World Series competitor, said he is fired up to compete this summer for the Sweets.
“I’m excited to go up against a bunch of college kids to get some exposure to what it’ll be like at SC,” he said.
Jeff – a former Major Leaguer who played for the Colorado Rockies, Seattle Mariners, and Milwaukee Brewers, and is now a scout for the Los Angeles of Anaheim – said his fondest memories in pro ball included his first MLB game, a 2005 home run he struck in Pittsburgh while playing for the Brewers, and throwing batting practice to his sons in pro ballparks.
Not bad for someone seen as a longshot to make the 2005 Milwaukee roster, and who adjusted to Southern Cal after playing prior to that at a small Catholic high school in Burbank, Calif.
The elder Cirillo said he is proud of his son who possesses “a tremendous amount of courage, heart and fight.
“The (WCL) is a talent-filled league and all the players will be solid, older and, for the most part, have one year of college experience,” Jeff said. “My hope is he will continue to learn from a great coaching staff and enjoy the experience of it all.”Read Less
Example: Both have played NCAA baseball – Parker at the Division II level and Larry in the Division I ranks.
This father-son duo will soon make its way to Walla Walla and join the Sweets for the upcoming West Coast League baseball season – Parker as a player and Larry as an assistant coach.
Parker, who was a two-time Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year and a first-team all-conference infielder and pitcher while at Boise’s Timberline High School, is set to begin his second season at Northwest Nazarene University. He started all 50 of NNU’s games last season and hit .324 (60-for-185) with 26 runs batted in.
The younger Price scored 42 runs, smacked 13 doubles, stole 12 bases in 14 attempts, and sported an .828 OPS (.405 slugging percentage and .423 on-base percentage) for a Northwest Nazarene team that finished 2018 with a 17-23 record in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, 19-31 overall.
Parker said he loves playing at NNU and has developed life-long friendships along the way.
“We (have) a new coaching staff and the atmosphere is electric,” Parker said.
Price figures to be the No. 2 or 3 hitter in NNU’s lineup and will be depended on to play solid defense up the middle.
“I’m setting the bar high for my individual play to give our team a chance to win,” Parker said.
Price’s fondness for Walla Walla developed while playing two seasons for the WCL’s Wenatchee AppleSox.
“I loved coming to Walla Walla and playing in front of a big, loud crowd,” Parker said. “I’ve heard from fellow college teammates the Sweets run a great summer program for their players and that the host families are awesome.”
Larry Price has coached baseball for 29 years and has coached 22 high school and American Legion state champions in Boise. He’s assisted more than 160 players to further their careers and play both professionally and collegiately in that time.
The elder Price has been an associate scout for the Atlanta Braves since 2010. He was with the Boston Red Sox from 1996-2003.
Larry Price played college ball at USC in 1983 and 1984, and played alongside the likes of Mark McGwire and Randy Johnson.
Price said he is looking forward to working with his son and Parker’s Sweets teammates.
“The other players will not know in any way that my son is on the team if our last names were different,” Larry said.
That suits Parker just fine.
“He will bring (an) additional energy and work ethic to our summer club,” Parker said. “He will expect nothing but the best from me, and will push me to be a big contributor on and off the field.”Read Less
Ben Fariss is slated to return his power bat and arm to the Sweets in 2019 along side of newcomer Danny Cervantes from Central Arizona.
WALLA WALLA – A Central Arizona Community College product and a University of California-Santa Barbara player – who suited up for Walla Walla’s West Coast League baseball entry last summer – will be donning Sweets jerseys in 2019, the team announced Thursday.
Cervantes hit .314, had an on-base percentage of .400, and slugged at a .568 clip last spring for a Vaqueros ball club that finished third in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference. He scored 27 runs, and registered six doubles, eight home runs and 28 runs batted in in 42 games.
“I matured a lot,” Cervantes said. “I started off slow and had to see things from a different perspective. Once that clicked, I started having success.”
CACC finished 25-11 in league, 45-13 overall, and reached the Division I Region I tournament.
“My expectation for this spring is to win a national championship,” Cervantes said. “Our team is talented and we’ve worked hard to get to where we want to be.”
Cervantes said he couldn’t be more excited to play for the Sweets this summer.
“Ever since someone I’ve looked up to and worked with for years – Alex McKenna – played for the Sweets, I’ve wanted to play for them too,” Cervantes said. “Now I have that opportunity and can’t wait to play for a bunch of great fans.”
Fariss performed well for the Sweets last summer – both at the plate and on the mound. He hit .286 (22-for-77) with three dingers and nine runs driven across, and posted a .468 slugging percentage.
Fariss notched a 2-0 record and two saves in six pitching appearances. He struck out 10 and walked two in nine innings of duty.
“My 2018 season was an exciting ride,” Fariss said. “It was a great environment to play in with some great teammates and coaches. The support from the local fan base is the most incredible part.”Read Less
MLB High School Home Run Derby Finalist, Emanuel Dean, joins fellow RHP and UCLA commit Charles Harrison in Walla Walla this summer.
WALLA WALLA – A pair of high school seniors from southern California – who intend to further their baseball careers at UCLA – have agreed to play this summer for the Walla Walla Sweets, the West Coast League team announced Thursday.
Canyon pitcher Charles Harrison and Servite outfielder Emanuel Dean, who obtained All-America acclaim from amateur baseball event provider Perfect Game in 2018, are the latest prospects that the Sweets organization has landed.
Harrison was named to the Foothill League’s first team and the Cowboys’ most valuable player during his junior season. He posted a 3.56 earned run average, struck out 72 in 63 innings pitched, and hit .322 with 16 runs batted in for the Canyon Country-based school.
“My expectation for this season is to help my team to the playoffs – which we haven’t been to in six years,” Harrison said. “I’m looking forward to playing with the Sweets this summer against great competition.”
Dean socked four home runs during his junior year with the Friars. The Anaheim Hills native garnered Trinity League honorable mention status after hitting .297 against conference foes and achieving a team-leading .486 slugging percentage and a .400 on-base percentage – good for second on the ball club. He had 11 hits, five for extra bases, and drove in eight runs.
Dean is committed to improving upon his junior campaign.
“Lots of ups and downs,” Dean said. “But I got through it and learned from my failures.
“My expectations for this upcoming season (are) to give it all I got, to play the game the right way, and to play hard,” Dean said. “Just have fun out there and let my talents and athletic ability do its work.”
Dean’s power landed him on the national state at Nationals Park for Major League Baseballs High School Home Run Derby during MLB All-Star festivities last summer.
As for the Sweets summer season, Dean stated, “It’s such an honor and I am blessed to receive this opportunity to play for such a great team.”Read Less
WALLA WALLA – Three members of the Walla Walla Community College baseball team – two of which suited up for the Walla Walla Sweets last summer – have committed to join the local West Coast League entry for the 2019 season, the team announced Thursday.
Hirai won a team co-leading four games last summer and posted a 3.79 earned run average. He struck out 30 in 40.1 innings pitched spread out over 17 appearances.
“I’d like to carry on with how last summer went,” Hirai said. “I’m going to go into (the season) with the same mindset and get after it.”
Walla Walla manager Frank Mutz refers to Hirai as a “tremendous competitor and a heck of a clutch pitcher.”
“There were several occasions last summer we had to move up or change Brayde’s spot in the rotation,” Mutz said. “He was ready every time we handed him the ball.”
Peterson participated in 13 games during the 2018 season. He fanned 23 hitters and walked just eight in 33.2 innings. Opponents hit just .238 against him.
“We’re going to try and compete for and win the (Northwest Athletic Conference) Eastern Region,” Peterson said of his expectations for the spring. “I’m also excited and looking forward to playing for the Sweets and having another good year.”
Mutz is thrilled to have Peterson back in the fold this summer.
“He was extremely reliable,” Mutz said. “Once Michael started to use his change up more effectively, there were games last summer where he was unhittable. As Michael continues to get stronger and log more innings this spring, I’m certain he will be an arm we will rely on.”
Wagstaff, who redshirted last spring, batted .295 in 2017. He led WWCC with 32 runs batted in, tied for second in runs scored (30) and sacrifice flies (three), was third in at-bats (173), and fourth in hits (51) on his way to earning a spot on the Eastern Region’s second-team.
The Warriors finished 18-12 in league, 30-20 overall, won the North Super Regional, and placed third in the NWAC Championships.
“We have a lot of young guys, but I think we (the Warriors) are going to be good,” Wagstaff said. “Playing for the Sweets is something I’ve wanted to do. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Mutz believes the cozy confines of Borleske Stadium will work to Wagstaff’s advantage.
“I love his slugging percentage and his ability to drive in runs,” Mutz said. “That sits at the top of our priority list when we talk about building our roster.”
WWCC coach Justin Speer is optimistic about his player’s summer prospects.
“I’m excited for our guys to get the opportunity to be a part of such a great organization like the Sweets,” Speer said. “I have no doubt that they will represent Warrior baseball very well.”Read Less
WALLA WALLA – A pair of Colorado Mesa sophomores-to-be, who helped lead the Mavericks to the championship game of the NCAA Division II South Central Regional Baseball Tournament last spring, will hone their skills this summer as members of the Walla Walla Sweets, the West Coast League team announced Thursday.
Infielders Caleb Farmer of San Jacinto, Calif., and Parker, Colo., native Jordan Stubbings enjoyed stellar freshman seasons at the Grand Junction-based school. Their efforts contributed to the program’s seventh straight Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference regular-season title and 25th overall. Colorado Mesa also won the RMAC Tournament for the fifth consecutive time resulting in CMU’s 18th NCAA Tournament appearance.
Both players participated in 42 of the team’s 59 games last season. Stubbings and Farmer started 34 and 32 games, respectively.
Stubbings, who was named the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference’s Freshman Positional Player of the Year and cited as a second-team selection by the DII Conference Commissioner’s Association in 2018, hit .382 and led the Mavericks in home runs (11), runs batted in (53), slugging percentage (.701), and fielding percentage (.991).
“We are very young going into 2019, but we have a strong (group) of very good players,” Stubbings said. “I’m expecting us to be a top-10 team in the nation.”
Stubbings is as excited to join the organization as the team is to host him during the 2019 summer.
“There’s a lot of talent in the WCL and I have family that lives in the area. It’s going to be a great summer and I’m very excited to play with the Sweets.”
“We have been recruiting power and on-base percentage, and Stubbings fits the bill,” Mutz said. “He has put up solid numbers over the past two seasons in high school and his freshman year at CMU.”
Farmer, a first-team, all-league selection and the eighth-ranked freshman in DII, posted a .384 batting average and stroked a team-high 15 doubles.
“All I wanted to do was make the travel squad and help the team,” Farmer said. “My freshman year went better than I ever expected.”
Farmer said the goal for 2019 is clear.
“The goal is to win the national championship,” Farmer said. “We have the talent to do it.”
Like Stubbings, Farmer is looking forward to putting on a Sweets uniform.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about them and have friends who played against them in the WCL,” Farmer said. “My goal this summer is to take my game further and hope to open some eyes to some of the scouts…and to make new friends and some good memories.”
Mutz said Farmer is an outstanding athlete who will shore up the middle of the Sweets lineup.
“He hits for average, has a high OPS, and can hit with power,” Mutz said. “Caleb has proven to be consistent through his young career offensively, which is what we are looking for for the 2019 lineup.”
Colorado Mesa ended the 2018 campaign with a 43-16 overall record, including a 22-3 mark at home, and were 26-9 against RMAC opponents.
Among the flurry of baseball activity the Walla Walla Sweets also opened up single game ticket sales on Tuesday for fans looking to take advantage of early selection opportunities.Read Less
The fastest ten seasons in the history of mankind (at least it feels that way) will open with the Walla Walla hosting the Corvallis Knights at Borleske Stadium. It is the second time in as many years that the Sweets and Knights will christen the home schedule at Historic Borleske Stadium. Opening Day, presented by Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Walla Walla, will be Tuesday, June 4.
2019 will mark the tenth season of operation for the Walla Walla Sweets, making the club the stand-alone team in terms of longest continual operation in the history of professionally operated baseball in the Walla Walla Valley. This particular vintage looks to be a great one for celebrating the history of the past decade.
“This is a fantastic schedule!” said general manager J.C. Biagi. “A good balance of games by month, some fun road trips across the beautiful league footprint, and once again a chance to be in control of our own destiny on the field, particularly in the first half of the season.
“We’re already rolling with a remarkable season ticket renewal, and can’t wait to keep building the energy through to Opening Day!”
After the opening series with Corvallis, the Sweets continue the homestand with the Bend Elks. Nine of the Sweets first twelve games, and eighteen of the team’s first twenty-four games, are against South division opponents.
The Sweets joined the WCL South division in 2018, swapping with the Yakima Valley Pippins (who moved to the North). The Borleske faithful will welcome a new team in the division, as the Ridgefield Raptors are slated to join the WCL starting with the 2019 season (and will compete in the South division). Sweets officials are excited to have another team in the league, and particularly one that improves the travel within the league (Ridgefield is 30 minutes from the Cowlitz market and 30 minutes from the Portland market). Ridgefield visits Walla Walla August 4-5-6.
The schedule features 54 WCL games, and 5 non-league opponents. Dates for the non-league games are scheduled, with details of opponents being announced later in the off-season.
The 2019 WCL All-Star Game will be hosted by the Bend Elks. This mid-summer celebration of summer collegiate baseball will take place on July 22-23.
For the full schedule, please visit www.wallawallasweets.com/schedule.
For a printable version, please click here.
June home dates (14) are as follows:
June 4-5-6: Corvallis
June 7-8-9: Bend
June 11-12: Non-League (to be announced)
June 18-19-20: Portland Pickles
June 21-22-23: Port Angeles Lefties
July home dates (12) are as follows:
July 2-3-4: Cowlitz Black Bears
July 12-13-14: Non-League (to be announced)
July 15-16-17: Victoria Harbourcats
July 24-25-26: Wenatchee Applesox
August home dates (6) are as follows:
August 2,6-7: Kelowna Falcons
August 3-4-5: Ridgefield Raptors
FOR TICKET OPTIONS – Click hereRead Less
There have been exactly two managers in the entire history of the Walla Walla Sweets. That will not change for the 2019 season, and now those two will be working together to make the 10th anniversary celebration a success at Borleske Stadium.
General Manager J.C. Biagi announced today that manager Frank Mutz will return to skipper the club in 2019. The two are indelibly connected, as Mutz joined the club following a successful 5-year run with Biagi in the dugout. That connection will only grow stronger. The now-teammates will leverage a combined 30+ years of playing, coaching, scouting and baseball development on the West Coast to focus on improving the on-field product, while continuing the tradition as one of the premier development teams in the league.
“I’m thrilled to be back in Walla Walla for my 5th season. I’m looking forward to building a championship club along side of J.C. He and his wife (former Sweets general manager)Katie and been nothing but supportive during my tenure with the Sweets.
“J.C. has a very high baseball I.Q. and I’m sure the two of us will work closely and tirelessly putting together a championship roster for the 2019 season.”
Mutz has an overall record of 118-112 in his four seasons in the dugout (.513) and has managed some of the most thrilling games in the team’s history. During his tenure, the Sweets have:
“I think the world of Frank and the great effort he’s put into integrating himself into this community,” said Biagi. “We’ve developed a terrific rapport over the last few years and our families share a wonderful friendship.
“He’s an asset to our organization and I’m excited to work with him in building a successful 2019 campaign.”
Mutz, who spent eleven seasons as the head coach at prestigious Chaminade Prep in West Hills, CA, is now the athletic director at Calvary Christian in Las Vegas, NV, where he is also serving as the head baseball coach. Biagi and Mutz have begun work on constructing the 2019 coaching staff, which will be announced at a later date.Read Less
Over 9 seasons, the Sweets have blossomed into the place where summer memories are made in the Walla Walla Valley. A pioneer to that success is returning to the team as the general manager.
J.C. Biagi, who was hired by team president Zachary Fraser to serve as the inaugural manager of the Sweets for the 2010 season, and was later Fraser’s assistant GM from 2011-13, is returning to the team to serve as the General Manager.
“I’m beyond excited to be back with the Sweets in such an exciting time for the organization,” said Biagi. “It’s an honor to take the reigns in our tenth season. I learned so much in my first five years with the Sweets, even more in starting and running my own business, and I can’t wait to be back in the ballpark on a nightly basis, in a different role – and I certainly hope will not involve as many ejections!”
“I am excited to welcoming my friend back to our team,” said Fraser. “He knows what has been done to build the Sweets in the community over the past decade, he has talent in leading successful businesses and teams, and he brings new strengths developed in his time away from the Sweets that will make us even stronger in the future.
“From building desks, clubhouses and rosters together in the early years, to now working on the next decade of Sweets baseball – I am personally energized to have him back on our team, and it will be fun to work alongside him during games where I am not escorting him from the dugout to the clubhouse.”
Biagi was the on-field manager of the Sweets from 2010 through the 2014 season. As the manager, he led the club to two WCL playoff appearances, including a 2011 WCL Championship appearance. He saw dozens of players that he managed be selected in the MLB Draft, and was at the helm when Matt Hall (2013) pitched for the Sweets. Earlier this month, Hall became the first former Sweet to make the Major Leagues when the Detroit Tigers called him up from AAA Toledo. Biagi was born and raised in the Walla Walla Valley, and played baseball at both DeSales and Walla Walla Community College before completing his playing career as a NCAA Division I pitcher at Centenary (LA).
In addition to his coaching responsibilities with the Sweets, Biagi worked closely with Fraser as the assistant GM (when Fraser was serving as the GM) to establish Borleske Stadium and Sweets baseball as the place to be on summer nights in the Walla Walla Valley. The two built the desks that are still used in the Sweets offices, and spent many a late night trading ideas that developed into the traditions the Sweets fans enjoy today.
His business building continued after he stepped away from the dugout. Biagi and his wife, Katie, founded Wonderboy Creative, a full-service creative and marketing agency based in Walla Walla. His combination of business and baseball development, along with his passion for the roots of the team, positioned Biagi to be a wise local choice to work with Fraser in charting the next decade for the Sweets.
The Sweets and Wonderboy have enjoyed a unique partnership – primarily through work on the teams digital and creative assets – and that will continue. While remaining a partner in Wonderboy, Biagi will hand off day-to-day management to the team that he has helped assemble there.
As the GM of the Sweets, he will have day-to-day responsibility in managing ticket sales, business development, stadium operations and baseball operations, including working with manager Frank Mutz to construct the roster. Given Biagi’s history with the team, and Fraser’s continued role of overall management of Pacific Baseball Ventures interests, it is exciting to think what can develop with the refreshed version of this partnership.
“Our energies and skill sets compliment one another,” said Fraser. “Over the past few seasons, he has stayed close to the team, has a great relationship with Frank and the front office – I cannot wait to work with him again in this capacity.”
“I look forward to bringing energy, a refreshed perspective and fun to the ballpark each night in a different capacity than I enjoyed the first time with the team,” Biagi said. “From the dugout, I was always grateful for our fans’ support, and it’ll be a joy to get to know them and serve them in this new role.”Read Less
Walla Walla, Wash. – Relive some of the greatest moments from the 2018 Walla Walla Sweets season!
The 2018 season at Borleske Stadium kicked off with the second annual Walla Walla Valley High School Showcase Game. The Sweets took on some of the most talented high school baseball players from the area in an exhibition style game to raise funds for the youth baseball and softball programs in the Valley. Former major leaguer and part owner of the Sweets, Jeff Cirillo, coached the high school All-Stars while Justin Speer took the helm of the Sweets. It was a great way to start off the year at Borleske Stadium and get the Sweets prepared for the 2018 season. VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS
After a road trip to begin the season, the Sweets returned home on June 8 for Opening Night at Borleske Stadium presented by Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Walla Walla. In front of a packed house, Walla Walla took home the victory over the Corvallis Knights by a final score of 2-0. Darius Vines was sensational in his return to the mound at Borleske, tossing six shutout innings while striking out three. Zach Penrod scored the first run of the 2018 season at Borleske for the Sweets on an RBI single by Nick Nyquist. Another tremendous opening night was capped off by post-game fireworks as the Sweets got their first of many wins at home in 2018. VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS
One of the biggest promotions of the year was Adam West Night presented by Country Financial on June 22. Borleske Stadium had an all-out caped crusader theme for the evening which featured a unique W2 logo in addition to yellow bases. The Sweets donned Adam West themed jerseys which were autographed and auctioned off after the game with the proceeds benefitting the Little Theatre of Walla Walla. It required a super hero type effort for the Sweets to beat the Portland Pickles. Ryan Johnston delivered a walk-off RBI single as the Sweets got the victory by a final score of 5-4. VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS
The famous “Who’s on First?” skit was brought to life on Abbott and Costello Night on June 23. The Sweets wore St. Louis Wolves jerseys that featured the names of players from the popular routine that included ‘Who’, ‘What’, ‘I Don’t Know’, ‘Tomorrow’, and ‘Mr. Broadhurst’. Walla Walla unfortunately lost the game to the Portland Pickles by a final score of 4-1. There was still no shortage of entertainment in what was the first ever recreation of the Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First?’ skit. In addition to the photos, fans can hear what a real St. Louis Wolves game would have sounded like here: VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS
Mariner Moose once again paid a visit to Borleske Stadium to entertain the tremendous Walla Walla Sweets fanbase. The Terrific Tuesday presented by Gesa Credit Union on June 26 saw the Sweets get the victory over the Victoria HarbourCats by a score of 6-1, but it was the Moose who stole the show. Sweets’ on-field emcee Sean McKillip put together a wildly entertaining evening which included bringing out members of the the Walla Walla County police department to try to take the Moose back to the wilderness. That attempt was thwarted by Sweets’ team president Zachary Fraser as the show went on. Mariner Moose got his revenge later by sneaking up and smashing a pie into McKillip’s face in what culminated in an incredibly amusing performance by the two.
In the three-game series against the Wenatchee AppleSox on the weekend of July 6, the Sweets took the field in some alternate reality Walla Walla Wallabies uniforms. Many fans may not know that “Wallabies” was very close to being the team name of the Sweets’ franchise before wiser heads prevailed in selecting a more suitable name. Nonetheless, fans got the chance to see ‘what could have been’ had the Sweets been the Wallabies as the players took to the field in their deep blue uniforms and Wallabies’ hats. VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS
The clock was turned back on Throwback Thursday once again in 2018. The Sweets donned their 1973 Walla Walla Padres throwback uniforms and went 2-1 in their three Thursday home games at Borleske Stadium. VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS
The Sweets won in walk-off fashion three times throughout the 2018 season. On June 22 on Adam West Night against the Portland Pickles, Ryan Johnston delivered a single through the left side of the infield to drive home Jordan Hovey for the first walk-off victory. Then on August 1 against the Kelowna Falcons, Nick Nyquist lifted a sacrifice fly into left field to score Darius Vines from third for their second walk-off of the season. Finally, on August 3 against the Yakima Valley Pippins, Patrick Caulfield drilled a base hit into right-centerfield with the bases loaded to score Ben Fariss for the third and final walk-off win of the year. VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS
2019 Season Tickets:
Be sure to purchase your season tickets for the 2019 Walla Walla Sweets season now! To do so, visit the Sweets Shoppe in downtown Walla Walla or call the offices at (509) 522-2255 anytime 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday through Friday or 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM on Saturday!
Ferguson will head sales for the Lancaster (PA) Barnstormers
Dan Ferguson has announced that he is stepping down as General Manager of the Walla Walla Sweets, effective immediately. He will be starting a position with the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League, where he will serve as the Vice-President of Sales & Service for the team.
Ferguson was hired in 2015 to serve as the team’s Director of Ticket Sales & Service. Following a successful first season, he was promoted to Assistant General Manager for the 2017 season, and was again promoted to General Manager for the 2018 season.
The senior leader was not an unknown talent to Sweets senior management. He had worked with Sweets founding General Manager and current team President Zachary Fraser in Seattle with the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, and has enjoyed a career in professional sports management for nearly 15 years. Ferguson specializes in running ticket sales departments, and that specialty is reflected in a 35% increase in ticket business over the past three seasons with the Sweets.
“We are grateful for all of the good things that Dan has brought to the team and to the Walla Walla community,” said Fraser. “He did a wonderful job of changing the trajectory of ticket sales, improved our internship program and was adept at discovering talented members of our current staff.
“I wish my friend great success in a really cool stadium in Lancaster.”
The Sweets are preparing for their 10th season in the Walla Walla market and as members of the West Coast League. Fraser anticipates moving quickly to solidify the team leadership for the season and the next decade of Sweets baseball. He does not plan to assume the GM role again, as he did in 2017 following the three-year tenure of Katie Biagi. However, Fraser will continue to be very active in the interim in working with fans, sponsors, front office and coaching staff while a new general manager is identified and on-boarded.
“We have a few great options to consider, and I am confident that we will soon have a dynamic, experienced, day-to-day operator for what will be a season-long celebration of our first decade at Borleske.
“As remarkable as the past decade has been, our best days as an organization are in front of us.”
Walla Walla, Wash. – The All-WCL teams have been announced and the Sweets saw two of their players receive nods while several teammates received honorable mention. Bryce Moyle (First Team) and Nick Nyquist (Second Team) headline the 2018 Walla Walla Sweets All-WCL selections.
First Team All-WCL
Bryce Moyle – LHP (Washington State University, Sophomore)
Few pitchers in the West Coast League performed as well as Moyle did in the second half of the 2018 season. From July 8 on he went 3-0 with a 0.72 ERA and 32 strikeouts over 25 innings of work. His best performance of the year came July 21 when the Sweets hosted the Cowlitz Black Bears. Moyle put in six innings of work to earn the victory while allowing no runs on just three hits with 11 strikeouts. That outing earned him WCL Pitcher of the Week honors for July 16-22.
Second Team All-WCL
Nick Nyquist – IF (Gonzaga University, RS Senior)
He might as well go by ‘Mr. Sweet’ after the three-year career Nyquist put together for Walla Walla. He capped off his Sweets tenure with his best season yet in 2018 including a career best batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He was named to the WCL All-Star Game for the third consecutive year in addition to being named to an All-WCL team for the third straight year, as well. Nyquist finished his Sweets career as the all-time leader in games played (147), at-bats (516), hits (145), runs scored (89), runs batted in (81), triples (6), homeruns (11), walks (73), and stolen bases (34).
Jordan Hovey – IF (Creighton University, Junior)
Hovey became one of the best hitters in the Sweets’ lineup once he settled into hitting in the West Coast League. After a slow start through his first 17 games in which he was hitting under .200, he tore through the remainder of the season. Over his final 34 games, Hovey had a .309 batting average with a .428 OBP and cut his strikeout percentage down by .127 points. He also tallied 21 runs, 20 RBI, nine doubles and four homeruns over that stretch.
Cesar Lopez – OF (Cal Poly Pomona, Sophomore)
The Cal Poly Pomona walk-on Lopez excelled playing in his first season in the WCL with the Sweets. He was selected to the WCL All-Star game where he was named co-MVP of the game after going 3-for-5 with two runs scored and a homerun. There was a stretch during the 2018 season that Lopez was nearly impossible to get out. Over 15 games from June 22 through July 10, he had a .462 batting average, a .517 on-base percentage, a .596 slugging percentage, scored nine runs and had eight RBI.
Haydn King – LHP (UNLV, Junior)
In his second year with the Sweets, King was dominant on the mound at times in 2018. He got two starts against the highest scoring offense in the league in the Portland Pickles and simply shut them down. Over those two games he went 10.1 innings with just two earned runs allowed. On the road against the Pickles on July 11, King had one of the most impressive outings of the season. He tossed five innings while allowing just one run and struck out 11 hitters. That performance got him the nod as WCL Pitcher of the Week for July 9-16.
Zach Penrod – Utility (Northwest Nazarene University, Signed)
Penrod proved to be – if not the best – then certainly one of the best two-way players in the WCL in 2018. He was selected to the WCL All-Star team as a pitcher but also participated in the homerun derby. Offensively Penrod helped to pace the Sweets by accounting for 32 runs over just 28 games. It was his promise on the mound however that caught the eye of MLB scouts. As a result, Penrod signed a professional minor league contract with the Texas Rangers as a pitcher midway through the WCL season. He is currently playing for the Rangers’ rookie ball affiliate in the Arizona League.
Darius Vines – RHP (Arizona State University, Junior)
Vines once again flashed why he was one of the most talented pitchers in the WCL in 2018. He earned his second consecutive selection to the WCL All-Star Game this past year. While he cooled off in the latter portion of the season, Vines was devastating on the mound over his first few appearances. He went 3-0 over his first three starts with just one earned run allowed and 19 strikeouts over 17 innings pitched.Read Less
Walla Walla, Wash. – There were a lot of great moments captured at Borleske Stadium this summer, but only one could be voted the best. The ‘Splashdown!’ photo from the Sweets’ walk-off victory against the Kelowna Falcons on August 1 was voted by fans the Best Picture of the 2018 Season.
The late-season victory against the Falcons came with a little extra meaning for the Sweets. Heading into the game on August 1, the Sweets had lost three-straight and were coming off a road trip in which they went 1-5.
It was a wild game early between the Sweets and the Falcons that saw the scoreboard swing back and forth. Walla Walla jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a two-run double by Jordan Hovey and an RBI double by Cesar Lopez.
The hot start was short lived however as Kelowna responded with six runs in the top of the second inning to take the lead 6-3. Walla Walla then slowly began to chip away at the lead.
Tate Soderstrom drove home Danny Sinatro on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third to make it 6-4. The score stayed that way until the bottom of the eighth when with runners on second and third, Ryan Johnston drove home a run on a groundout to cut the lead to 6-5.
It can not go without mentioning the performance turned in by Johnston on the mound in the game. He took over in the top of the fifth inning and was virtually untouchable.
Johnston went five scoreless innings with five strikeouts and allowed just one hit. Perhaps most impressive is that retired the final 13 batters he faced on nothing but strikeouts and groundouts with the ball never leaving the infield.
Walla Walla came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning trailing 6-5 with a final crack at trying to extend or win the game. Ben Fariss was called on to pinch hit to lead off the inning and with one swing he turned the game on its head.
On the very first pitch he saw, Fariss launched a towering drive into the trees out past the left field wall for a solo homerun which tied the game at 6-6. Quentin LaFontaine then drew a walk to put the game-winning run on with nobody out.
Darius Vines came on to pinch run for LaFontaine to give the Sweets a little added speed on the base paths. After an error put runners on first and second, a sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position with only one out.
That brought up Nick Nyquist for a chance to play hero and give the Sweets a much-needed win. On a 1-1 count, he lifted a fly ball into left field.
The ball was caught as Vines tagged from third and headed for home. The throw to the plate was wide as Vines scored standing up with Nyquist walking the Sweets off winners by the final score of 7-6.
The celebration ensued and the Best Picture of the 2018 Season, ‘Splashdown!’, was captured as Sweets players spilled onto the field and doused Nyquist with the Gatorade jug. Stay tuned on Saturday for the upcoming Look Back at the 2018 Walla Walla Sweets Season to check out all the great photos from Borleske Stadium this past year.Read Less
Walla Walla, Wash. – Vote now on the best picture of the 2018 Walla Walla Sweets season! Scroll down to view the images and to vote on the poll!
Walla Walla, Wash. – It was another great season of Sweets baseball at Borleske Stadium in 2018 thanks to the tremendous support of the Walla Walla community. For the ninth consecutive season, the Sweets ranked in the top 50 of Ballpark Business’s 2018 Summer Collegiate Top 100 Attendance Rankings.
“The continued support for this team from the community has been truly incredible,” said Sweets team president Zachary Fraser. “Year in and year out our fans pack Borleske Stadium and make it such a fun and electric environment. It means a great deal to all of us to have such a passionate fan base that continues to get acknowledgement as one of the top draws in collegiate summer baseball.”
The Sweets came in at 49 on this year’s Ballpark Business attendance rankings with an average of 1,255 fans per game. Including non-league games, Walla Walla drew over 38,000 fans to Borleske Stadium this summer.
Fans that came out to watch the Sweets play at home this season were treated to a lot of winning. Walla Walla finished with an impressive overall record of 24-8 at Borleske Stadium in addition to going 9-0 in series at home against West Coast League opponents.
There were a lot of exciting promotions throughout the 2018 season at home for the Sweets as well. Adam West Night featured caped crusader inspired uniforms, a commemorative Sweets statue giveaway, and a fantastic post-game firework display.
The famous ‘Who’s on First?’ skit was brought to life on Abbott and Costello Night with St. Louis Wolves jerseys that featured players’ names from the routine. Fans saw what could have been with the three-game Walla Walla Wallabies series where the Sweets wore alternate reality Wallabies uniforms.
Mariner Moose came out and put on a show for Walla Walla fans while terrorizing the team’s on-field emcee Sean McKillip. There were Terrific Tuesdays, BOGO Wednesdays, Throwback Thursdays, Bud Light Batting Practices and much more.
The collective efforts of the team’s management and staff culminated into what was yet another terrific season of Walla Walla Sweets baseball, which as always was made entirely possible by the team’s incredible fan base. With the team’s tenth season upcoming in 2019, expect more of the same in what will undoubtedly be another fun and thrilling summer of Walla Walla Sweets baseball.Read Less
Walla Walla, Wash. – For the third time this season, the Sweets pitching staff has taken home a West Coast League award. Michael Peterson had been named WCL Pitcher of the Week for July 30 – August 5 after an impressive outing in his first start since the beginning of the season.
At Borleske Stadium on August 2, Peterson got the ball against the Kelowna Falcons and was virtually untouchable throughout the game. He tossed seven shutout innings while allowing just one hit, one walk, and struck out nine en route to earning the victory.
Peterson had his entire arsenal of pitches rolling that night and utilized his changeup frequently throughout the start to keep the Falcons hitters off balance at the plate. The Sweets needed that type of outing from Peterson on the night as they squeaked out a win behind the tremendous start by a final score of 2-0.
The tall right-hander from Walla Walla Community College has put together an excellent campaign in his first year with the Sweets. Peterson carries a 1-2 record with a 4.15 ERA and 27 strikeouts over 30.1 innings pitched on the season.Read Less
Walla Walla, Wash. – With the forecast in Walla Walla calling for afternoon temperatures over 100 degrees, the Sweets have made the decision to push back their start time for the game on July 31st against the Kelowna Falcons (when temperatures are forecast to be in the mid- to low-90s). The gates at Borleske Stadium will open at 6:30 PM with the game slated to begin at 7:05 PM.Read Less
Walla Walla, Wash. – For the second consecutive week, the Sweets pitching staff has taken home a West Coast League award. Bryce Moyle has been tabbed WCL Pitcher of the Week for July 16-22 after a sensational pair of appearances.
Moyle got the start against the Cowlitz Black Bears at Borleske Stadium on July 21 and was absolutely lights out. He earned the win in the outing by tossing six shutout innings with 11 strikeouts and just three hits allowed.
He utilized tremendous location and a devastating slew of off-speed pitches to keep the Black Bears’ hitters off balance and led the Sweets to a 9-0 victory. Moyle also made an appearance against the Bellingham Bells a few days prior and went two innings while allowing just one hit and struck out two batters.
The talented left-hander from Washington State University has put together a strong summer campaign for the Sweets. On the year for Walla Walla, he holds a 3-2 record with an impressive 2.22 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 36.1 innings pitched.Read Less
Walla Walla, Wash. – Holding down one of the most potent lineups in the West Coast League while in the smallest park in the league is an accomplishment worthy of recognition. Haydn King did exactly that and as a result has been named the WCL Pitcher of the Week for July 9-16.
King took to the mound on July 11th against the Portland Pickles at Walker Stadium and was absolutely electric. He finished his outing against the first-half South Division champion Pickles going five strong innings with an impressive 11 strikeouts and just one run allowed in a no decision.
Despite not earning the win on the night, King’s start was pivotal to the Sweets taking the game by a final score of 2-1. In two starts against Portland this year, King is 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA over 10.1 innings pitched.
The University of San Francisco lefty hurler has been as good as advertised in his second season with the Sweets. On the year he carries a 2-1 record with a 2.88 ERA and 33 strikeouts over 25 innings pitched.Read Less
Walla Walla, Wash. – The 2018 West Coast League All-Star Game rosters have been announced. Four members of the Walla Walla Sweets have been selected to the team. The quartet is headlined by now three-time WCL All-Star Nick Nyquist (IF), two-time WCL All-Star Darius Vines (RHP), and a pair of first-time WCL All-Stars in Cesar Lopez (OF) and Zach Penrod (Utility).
“We are extremely proud of the recognition that Nick, Darius, Cesar and Zach are receiving,” said Sweets manager Frank Mutz. “Not only has their on-field play been worthy of the recognition, but their contributions off the field in the clubhouse and the community have been significant factors in creating a winning culture.”
|Name: Nick Nyquist|
|Team: Walla Walla Sweets||School: Gonzaga University||Year (2019): (RS) Senior|
|Hometown: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho||Height: 6’3”||Weight: 210 lbs|
|Position: 3B, 1B||Bats: Right||Throws: Right|
Nick Nyquist has been nothing short of exceptional in his third year with the Walla Walla Sweets and fourth year in the West Coast League overall. Currently on the season he holds a .317 batting average, a .449 on-base percentage, 17 runs scored, nine RBI and seven stolen bases. Since his arrival back in Walla Walla, Nyquist has been firmly planted into the number three spot in the Sweets lineup. As a result, he is frequently keyed on by opposing teams as they try to limit the damage that he can cause. Despite those efforts by opposing teams Nyquist has continued to roll at the plate all season long, which is a big reason as to why he is back in the WCL All-Star game for the third consecutive year.
|Name: Darius Vines|
|Team: Walla Walla Sweets||School: Arizona State University||Year (2019): Junior|
|Hometown: Oxnard, California||Height: 6’1”||Weight: 180 lbs|
|Position: RHP||Bats: Right||Throws: Right|
It does not take more than an inning of watching Darius Vines pitch to know that he is the real deal with a big-league ready arm. On the season with the Walla Walla Sweets, Vines carries a 3-0 record with a 0.50 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 18 innings pitched. His arsenal of pitches is one of the best in the West Coast League, which is a big part of why he was named the number eight prospect in the WCL after the 2017 season with Walla Walla. Vines comes at hitters with a low 90s fast ball, a filthy slider, and a devastating curveball that can fool even the most prolific hitters. At every turn, he has proven that he is ready to play at the next level and will have a chance to showcase that on the mound in the WCL All-Star Game for the second consecutive year.
|Name: Cesar Lopez|
|Team: Walla Walla Sweets||School: Cal Poly Pomona University||Year (2019): Sophomore|
|Hometown: Downey, California||Height: 6’1”||Weight: 185 lbs|
|Position: OF||Bats: Left||Throws: Right|
It is becoming increasingly hard to figure out how it is possible that so many collegiate coaches missed out on the incredible talent of Cesar Lopez. A walk-on at Cal Poly Pomona, Lopez impressed all year long with the Broncos, and he continued that roll right into the 2018 season with the Walla Walla Sweets. On the year he is hitting .382 with a .962 OPS, 17 runs scored, 12 RBI, five doubles, a homerun and seven walks. He also may very well be the hottest hitter currently in the WCL. Over his last 14 games, Lopez is 22-47 at the plate for a gaudy clip of .468. His ability to hit to all parts of the field out of the left-handed batter’s box is invaluable and is undoubtedly a big reason as to why he has been selected to the WCL All-Star Game in just his first year in the league.
|Name: Zach Penrod|
|Team: Walla Walla Sweets||School: Northwest Nazarene University||Year (2019): Senior|
|Hometown: Nampa, Idaho||Height: 6’2”||Weight: 220 lbs|
|Position: OF, 1B, LHP||Bats: Left||Throws: Left|
Zach Penrod is the epitome of a two-way player, as he can swing it and throw it with the best of them. At the dish for the Walla Walla Sweets this season, he carries a .273 batting average with 17 runs, 15 RBI, six doubles, 13 walks and seven stolen bases. On the mound for the Sweets, he has an 0-1 record with a 0.94 ERA and an impressive 26 strikeouts in just 19 innings pitched. Penrod is an extra-base hit waiting to happen with great power and tremendous speed from the left side of the plate. His arsenal when pitching is nothing short of electric, running in a low 90s fastball with a slew of off-speed pitches to keep hitters off balance. The utility man from Northwest Nazarene University, Penrod is a five-tool player and has shown them off all season long to earn himself a spot in the 2018 WCL All-Star Game.
Rosters Feature Stars from Wa-Hi, DeSales Storied Past
The rivalry is about to heat up at Borleske Stadium, as rosters for the first-ever Alumni Classic, presented by the Walla Walla YMCA, were released this afternoon.
The game, scheduled to be played at Borleske Stadium on Monday, July 16 at 7:05 PM, will feature past stars from the storied baseball programs that have been in the Valley over the past half-century. The game is being played to accomplish a few important goals:
“I am excited about the roster that we’re able to put together on the DeSales side,” said event co-organizer J.C. Biagi, who played for the Irish from 1997-2000. “I think we’ve assembled a solid group of players that takes us back to some important foundational years in the late 80s through the heart of our state championship runs in the late 90s and early 2000s.”
The Blue Devil roster is equally as impressive.
“The number of great players from Wa-Hi who went on to have success in collegiate and professional baseball over the past 25 years is impressive,” said event co-organizer Jason Magnaghi who played for Wa-Hi through 1996. “Many in our community will recognize the depth of talent and key names from our proud baseball history.”
For this inaugural game, the clubs are being managed by long-time coaches of the programs, Kim Cox (DeSales) and Keith Gradwohl (Wa-Hi). The two coaches have a long history of producing collegiate and professional baseball talent, as well as numerous state, district and regional titles.
“The Sweets are excited to build on the strong relationships that we’ve built over the past decade with both DeSales and Wa-Hi,” said Sweets president Zachary Fraser. “From past players and coaches from these programs that have been an integral part of the Sweets history, this game will become a great showcase for fun and fundraising for both schools.
“We are extremely grateful to our partners at the YMCA for stepping up as the presenting sponsor, and their recognition that dollars raised from this event will help the schools continue programs that help develop the health and welfare of todays students.”
The rosters for the two clubs for the Classic will be as follows:
*if you want your custom event t-shirt with your ticket, tickets must be purchased no later than July 5, 2018Read Less
Walla Walla, Wash. – Over the last few days, seven former Sweets were selected in the 2018 MLB Draft. Of the seven selections, four of them went in the first 11 rounds.
4th Round – 132nd Pick / Houston Astros:
Alex McKenna (OF) – Cal Poly
6’2” 200 Bats: R Throws: R
McKenna played with the Sweets in 2015 as a senior coming out of Bishop Alemany High School in Mission Hills, California.
7th Round – 220th Pick / Boston Red Sox:
Jarren Duran (IF) – Long Beach State University
6’2” 200 Bats: L Throws: R
Duran was a member of the 2016 Sweets team and was one of the premiere players on the team.
9th Round – 276th Pick / Colorado Rockies:
Willie MacIver (C) – University of Washington
6’2” 200 Bats: R Throws: R
MacIver played for the Sweets in 2015 and 2016 and was named the No. 10 prospect in the West Coast League following the 2016 season.
11th Round – 323rd / Oakland Athletics:
Joe DeMers (RHP) – University of Washington
6’2” 230 Bats: R Throws: R
Coming out of College Park High School in Pleasant Hills, California, DeMers joined the Sweets for the 2015 season and was one of the best arms on the team even at such a young age.
20th Round – 596th Pick / Toronto Blue Jays:
Vinny Capra (IF) – Richmond University
5’9” 160 Bats: R Throws: R
Capra was a member of the 2017 Sweets team and was exceptional both offensively and defensively.
25th Round – 748th Pick / Seattle Mariners:
Connor Kopach (IF) – Southern Illinois University
6’0” 170 Bats: R Throws: R
Kopach played for the Sweets following his first year at SIU and was one of the team’s best hitters throughout the season. Following the 2018 season, he was named a finalist for the Brooks Wallace Award which recognizes the best college baseball shortstop of the year.
39th Round- 1184th Pick / Los Aneles Dodgers:
Jordan Myrow (OF) – San Jacinto College
5’10” 185 Bats: R Throws: R
Walla Walla, Wash. – The Sweets announced on Monday the players who will join the team on 10-day contracts to begin the 2018 season. The group will initially include a crop of talented local players from Walla Walla Community College who will travel with the team to take on Yakima and Bellingham then come home for the Corvallis series.
The five WWCC players include three full-time pitchers, one infielder and one player who can double in the field and on the mound, with all five likely to see plenty of playing time early on and will look to contribute to the Sweets’ early season success. Walla Walla head coach Frank Mutz knows a great deal about the program at WWCC and is confident the group of players the Sweets have added will fit in nicely to get the ball rolling to kick off the year.
“We have a strong, historic relationship with Walla Walla Community College,” Mutz said. “From some of the best players in our history, to recent players who have made meaningful contributions, we are grateful for the chance to continue our relationship with Coach Meliah.”
|Utility||Sophomore||R||R||Boise, Idaho||5’10”||180 lbs|
|IF||Sophomore||R||R||Kennewick, Washington||5’10”||180 lbs|
|RHP||Sophomore||R||R||Spokane, Washington||5’10”||183 lbs|
|LHP||Freshman||L||L||Pasco, Washington||6’0”||180 lbs|
|RHP||Freshman||R||R||Pullman, Washington||6’5”||205 lbs|
Lopez brings talent and exceptional work ethic to Walla Walla
Walla Walla, Wash. – Everybody loves a good underdog story, a story about hard work, determination and dedication paying off. Such is the story of the Sweets latest signing of freshman walk-on Cesar Lopez (OF) from Cal Poly Pomona.
“I felt like it was a great opportunity and that I could contribute to the team,” Lopez said of joining the Sweets. “It’s the kind of experience where I can develop my game around some older guys, see what they do, how they go about their business and learn from them.”
A native of Downey, California, Lopez went to St. John Bosco High School and was a solid player for the baseball team. He finished his senior season with a .304 batting average, 16 runs scored, 10 RBI and five doubles.
“It was a really good experience at Bosco, we had a really close-knit group,” Lopez said. “My sophomore year we got a new head coach for the team, Don Barbara. He could get emotional at times, but you could tell he was passionate about the game. He was a great hitter when he played at Long Beach State, so he was just a great teacher to have.”
Coming out of high school, Lopez drew very little interest from the baseball programs that he had eyed as potential suitors. He chose to attend Cal Poly Pomona primarily for the academics, but said he realized that the Broncos had a winning baseball team, a great program and he wanted to be a part of it.
Lopez talked with the coaching staff and attended the walk-on tryout that the team held this past fall. He said there were give or take around 20 players who participated in the tryout, and that out of those 20, Lopez was the only one selected to be a part of the Broncos baseball team.
“It was a little bit nerve wracking, but at some point, you just have to go for it,” Lopez said. “I had to put a lot of work in, but the time and effort paid off. I was able to get a spot and an opportunity to get some playing time.”
The opportunity for playing time was not always on the table, as the coaching staff had originally planned to redshirt Lopez. However, a last-minute change of heart gave the walk-on outfielder an opportunity to play in the opening series of the season against California State San Marco and he took full advantage.
Over the four-game series, Lopez went 5-for-14 with three runs scored and two walks. After that, the coaching staff felt like he had proven himself to be a more than capable player and Lopez was able to work his way into a starting role for the team. He started 46 games and finished the season with a .291 batting average, 25 runs, 26 RBI, nine doubles and three homeruns.
“Overall it was just a really great season and a good learning experience to have,” Lopez said. “The game is a lot faster at this level because everybody is good. The coaching staff was great too, I learned a lot from them and they helped me out a lot when I was struggling a bit.”
Sweets team president Zachary Fraser said he is pleased to add yet another quality player to the team’s talented roster for the 2018 season, noting that the work ethic and determination Lopez displayed in earning a walk-on spot at Cal Poly Pomona is an invaluable asset to any team.
“We’re excited to welcome Cesar to #SweetsCountry,” Fraser said. “I am particularly impressed with his back-story, and our coaching staff – Raul especially – was very excited when he saw what he could do during games. Lopez will provide depth and versatility, and most importantly, an attitude of not settling that is important to clubs looking to win titles.”Read Less
Lefty specialist and closer helps to bolster Walla Walla's pitching staff
Walla Walla, Wash. – A team can never have enough capable lefties at their disposal out of the bullpen and the Sweets have added another for the 2018 season. Samuel Reed (LHP) from Concordia University Irvine will take to the mound this summer for Walla Walla.
“I’m just so excited for the fan base out in Walla Walla,” Reed said. “Having an atmosphere, you can’t beat it playing the game. It’s all about the fans and having a good time with that. So I couldn’t be more excited to come play in an intense environment of want-to-win baseball every single day in one of the best summer collegiate leagues in the nation.”
A native of Denver, Colorado, Reed went to Thomas Jefferson High School where he was a standout player for the baseball team. He was a four-year varsity letterman, a three-time All-Denver Public Schools first team selection and was named to the All-Colorado second team his senior year in 2014.
“I went to an inner-city high school, so baseball wise I was pretty quick to make varsity in the freshman stages of things,” Reed said. “I was just a leader out there. I developed some characteristics of a leader and it was really great overall.”
The first two years of Reed’s collegiate career were spent at the Colorado School of Mines where he began to hone his pitching ability out of the bullpen. He finished his sophomore season with a 1-0 record, one save and 23 strikeouts over 27.2 innings pitched.
“My freshman year, we were not a very good team, but my sophomore year we were one game away from winning the conference on the last day,” Reed said. “It was very competitive baseball. For the most part in Colorado the ball flies, so it teaches you how to keep the ball down when you pitch – otherwise it’s going over the fence.”
Reed said he was drawn to Concordia Irvine because of the beautiful southern California weather. Despite having been lightly recruited by the school, Reed was able to convince them to sign him with a single bullpen session.
“Really it was being able to come down to southern California to play baseball; it’s one of the best places to play baseball because it’s perfect weather every day,” Reed said of why he chose to play at CUI. “I didn’t really meet many coaches prior to signing, it was just a connection I had. I set up a bullpen for me to throw in front of one of their assistants and they liked what they saw enough to pick me up for the year.”
Having recently wrapped up his first year with the Eagles, Reed said he has enjoyed his time there and the role in which he has been used – as a closer and lefty specialist. He appeared in 18 games, earned three saves and racked up 24 strikeouts over 24.1 innings pitched.
“As a team, we are going to finish fourth or fifth out of our eleven-team conference, so as a whole we did okay, Reed said. “But my experience was great. I’m a bullpen guy and they used me for the most part as a lefty specialist and sometimes to close out ball games, as well. I love pitching out of the bullpen and they let me do what I like to do so it was a good deal.”Read Less
Freshman pair to play important roles for the team this summer
Walla Walla, Wash. – The Sweets have added two talented California JUCO players to their roster. Matt Elser (Utility) and Adrian Chaidez (RHP) will be in action at Borleske Stadium for Walla Walla this summer.
“I feel that this will be a great opportunity to go up to Walla Walla for the summer, see what it is really about, travel with the guys, and just have a blast,” Elser said. “I treat baseball as having a lot of fun. If you are not having fun, then why play? So, it is a really good opportunity for me.”
“When coach Hutting told me about the opportunity and how great the league is, I could not say no,” Chaidez said. “I had a couple teammates who played in the West Coast League last year and they said it was one of the best times of their life.”
Elser is a native of Santa Clarita, California where he went to Hart High School and was a standout athlete. He finished his senior season with the baseball team hitting .354 with 16 runs scored, 17 RBI and six doubles.
“Looking back on those four years playing at Hart, it really helped me get ready for the future – college-wise and academic-wise,” Elser said. “Playing for Jim Ozella, he really showed me how to be a student of the game and really pushed me to reach my goals.”
A utility player who can play both catcher and outfield, Elser is now attending Los Angeles Mission College. He said he was drawn to the program because of the school’s excellent academics and head coach Joe Cascione’s approach to the game.
“Mission really stood out because of Coach Cascione and how he has the drive to make someone better as a person and a baseball player,” Elser said. “Going through every-day practice, everything is always 120 percent and that’s what I like. I don’t take days off; I like to go through the game playing hard and working towards a goal.”
Elser just finished his freshman campaign with LA Mission and appeared in all 40 of the team’s games this season. He ended the year with a .284 batting average, 22 runs, 26 RBI, 12 doubles and two homeruns.
“Throughout the season, we had our ups and downs,” Elser said, “but at the end you can look back and say, ‘I had a really fun time and I learned a lot about the sport.’ And we will push forward to next season.”
Chaidez is from South Gate, California and went to Warren High School where he excelled for the baseball team.
“I just had such a great time at Warren,” Chaidez said. “Everyone there, we were all close. Our coach got on us when he had to, but everything else was laid back, our practices were great. I had a fun time … one of the best times of my life.”
The right-handed hurler is currently enrolled at Cypress College. He said he chose to go there because of the school’s reputation for developing players and getting them to the Division I level.
“They have such a good background of getting their players to the next level and that’s what I wanted to do, get to the next level,” Chaidez said. “They have a great coaching staff and that’s all you can really ask for.”
While he is a pitcher now, Chaidez was recruited as a two-way player after being primarily a catcher in high school and only pitching briefly his senior year. He said that when he got to Cypress they told him that he was going to pitch and the coaching staff helped him a great deal.
“It was a difficult transition because I had just started out and I am competing against guys who had been pitching their whole lives, so I was very far behind,” Chaidez said. “I had to learn how to throw my curveball, changeup and cutter. It was difficult but it all paid off with the hard work with the coaches.”
In his first collegiate season – his first full season of pitching, Chaidez made great strides throughout the year. He finished with 16 appearances and a 4.01 ERA with 25 strikeouts over 24.2 innings pitched.
“We had a pretty solid season; our baseball program is really solid,” Chaidez said. “Most of our returning guys are freshman, so we are going to have an even better team next season.”
Sweets head coach Frank Mutz had high praise for both Elser and Chaidez and feels because of his familiarity with both players that he knows these two will be very important to Walla Walla’s success this summer.
“We are getting one of the top JUCO catchers in Southern California with Elser,” Mutz said. “He is not only an outstanding receiver, he is very capable offensively and will be used as an outfielder and DH when he is not catching. Chaidez will be a welcome addition to our pitching staff this summer. He is a strike thrower who loves to compete and will be of our starters or long relievers.”Read Less
Neyer will bring another great baseball mind to WCL leadership
Walla Walla, Wash. – This morning, the West Coast League announced the addition of Commissioner to its league leadership structure, and that former ESPN and Fox Sports journalist Rob Neyer will be filling the position, effective immediately.
Neyer is the league’s first commissioner since ABCA Hall of Fame head coach Jim Dietz of San Diego State presided over the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League, during the circuit’s formative years.
“We are thrilled to have Rob Neyer represent the West Coast League and act as our league’s commissioner,” said WCL president Tony Bonacci. “His knowledge of the game and passion for what we are doing, not to mention his contacts in baseball, should help us elevate the league to new heights.”
“We can’t be more pleased that Rob has joined us as our commissioner.”
Currently residing in Portland, Oregon, Neyer is baseball writer known for his pioneering use of statistical analysis and sabermetrics and began his career working for Bill James and STATS, Inc.
He’s also worked for 15 years as a columnist and blogger for ESPN, and was National Baseball Editor at Vox Media’s SB Nation from 2011 to 2013, then Senior Baseball Editor for Fox Sports through 2015. His recent work has been featured in The New York Times, Vice Sports, Complex Sports, and Yahoo, among others.
This October, HarperCollins will publish POWER BALL: Anatomy of a Modern Baseball Game, Rob’s seventh book.
“I’m a passionate, longtime fan of baseball history generally, and Pacific Northwest baseball specifically,” Neyer said. “So it’s difficult for me to imagine a more exciting opportunity, and I’m honored to be associated with such a fine organization. This summer, as I connect with the owners and visit all the beautiful ballparks, I’ll do everything I can to help this great league become even greater.”
WCL members will look to the league’s new commissioner to arbitrate and regulate during the season; to further connect the league and its teams with the baseball community, its markets and those that follow the game; and to act as a league ambassador.Read Less
New grandstand, refurbished concourse and extended netting headline facility improvements
Walla Walla, Wash. – Construction is currently underway to upgrade and update the historic home of the Walla Walla Sweets. Borleske Stadium is undergoing renovations to enhance the fan experience at the ballpark for the upcoming 2018 season.
Perhaps the most notable change that Sweets fans will notice as they enter the ballpark will be the replacement of the third-base side grandstand, a piece that dated back to the 1950s. While historic, it was no longer suitable to host fans after doing so for nearly 70 years.
In its place will be a re-purposed set of grandstands that will feature safety rails on the outside and hand rails on the aisles. The new seating will run approximately 20-to-25 feet further down the line than the original grandstand, creating more fantastic viewing options for fans without detracting from popular seating locations like the Beer Garden tables. In addition to a cleaner, more professional look, the new seating will be much safer.
The concourse on both sides of the field is also undergoing an overhaul to provide a much cleaner look than what had been in place before. The area had previously been a combination of asphalt, gravel, warning track stone and concrete but will now be completely refurbished and will feature improved drainage on the first base side.
This renovated concourse area will create new plaza opportunities adjacent to the Home Plate Hangout, where new food options are being added for the 2018 season and a new fundraising platform for non-profits will also be located, the details of which will be released in May.
In addition, the safety netting that lines the fence and frequently prevents foul balls from searing into the seats will be extended all the way down the fence line on both sides of the field, encompassing boxes 1-to-6 on the first base side and in front of the bleaches that constitute general admission seats on the third base side. The netting will also be raised in height in front of boxes 1-to-3.
These netting additions parallel the changes being made across the landscape of baseball to provide greater fan safety while still maintaining the intimacy of the ballpark. Furthermore, the batting practice nets will now be moved to a new storage location down the left field line and out of access to fans.
All of these improvements are being funded by a partnership of the Borleske Stadium Assocation and privately contributed funds. Sweets team president Zachary Fraser said this group has worked extremely hard to enhance the historic ballpark while maintaining its tradition that fans have come to know and love.
“Since our very first season, the Stadium Association partners have been great to work with as we effort together to improve our historic facility,” Fraser said. “As the oldest stadium in the West Coast League – and one of the oldest still in operation in the country – we want to strike a balance between the tradition of the stadium while also making improvements that benefit fans and players. In addition to safer viewing, I know fans will appreciate the finished look and feel of the third base side of the ballpark.”Read Less
Expansion into visual broadcast gives fans a new perspective for Sweets games
Walla Walla, Wash. – Sweets’ fans will have the chance to follow the team’s home games in a new way this year which will allow them to see more of the action. The club has announced that they will be launching live-video streaming of all games at Borleske Stadium for the 2018 season.
“We are thrilled to bring the production of a video broadcast to Walla Walla fans this season,” said Sweets general manager Dan Ferguson. “The tremendous crowds and electric atmosphere at Borleske will now be brought directly to fans across the country and the world. We are confident that Brandon [Pavlina], our broadcaster, will be exceptional at calling the action on the broadcasts as fans that can’t be in Borleske, for the first time, will be able to follow the games via video.”
The move to incorporate a video broadcast at Borleske Stadium is in conjunction with a WCL-wide initiative to bring a visual medium to each ballpark in the league. Starting with the Sweets and the Yakima Valley Pippins launching a rudimentary Periscope broadcast in 2014, the process was greatly improved when the Victoria Harbourcats brought a multi-camera platform to the league in 2016. At the 2018 Winter Meetings in Portland, the WCL board of directors approved an initiative to help each club capitalize a video-stream service in each park. For the 2018 season, it is anticipated that all clubs in the league will have some variety of a live-stream available to fans.
The Sweets video broadcast will be a single-camera operation in 2018, traditional to what is seen with many colleges across the country. Development is already in place to allow for a multi-camera broadcast in the 2019 season. The video stream will be a simulcast of audio from award-winning Sweets’ radio broadcasts on KTEL Fox News Radio 1490 AM and 99.7 FM with new, separate advertising opportunities available through the video platform. The video broadcast will be a pay-per-view style format for fans with season and single-game passes available starting in May.
The live-video stream is being built with the partnership of the Sweets with Rob Snow and Michael Sanders of Walla Walla. Snow and Sanders have been part of developing streaming entertainment options throughout the Valley over the past five years, including Whitman Athletics. The Sweets have opted to use Boxcast, a comprehensive cloud-based solution that includes a full production suite to allow for a great viewing experience.
This platform will also allow the Sweets to extend their long-standing working relationships with local high schools and colleges, as this new initiative creates paying jobs for developing multi-media and video production students. This is the aspect that most excites Sweets president Zachary Fraser.
“Similar to what we have been able to do for players and developing sports marketing professionals, this project will both fill a need for our customer, as well as create development opportunities for young men and women in our community that are interested in sports broadcasting,” Fraser said.
Twice this season, the Sweets will be featured as the WCL Game of the Week where the broadcast will be shared league-wide via the WCL website. These dates will be Thursday, July 19 against the Bellingham Bells and Thursday, August 2 against the Kelowna Falcons.
“I’m very excited to be a part of the Sweets this season and cannot wait for the opportunity to bring a visual broadcast to Borleske Stadium for the first time,” said Sweets broadcaster and media relations manager Brandon Pavlina. “I have had a great deal of experience with simulcasts and am confident I will be able to utilize that experience to provide an engaging and insightful viewing experience for Walla Walla fans.”Read Less
Mutz, Camacho, Wilkerson and Speer set to lead Walla Walla
Walla Walla, Wash. – Walla Walla Sweets manager Frank Mutz has announced the coaching staff for the upcoming 2018 season. Mutz, Raul Camacho and Kyle Wilkerson will be back with the team again this season and Justin Speer will join the staff again after previously coaching with the Sweets in 2015.
“I’ve appreciated working with Frank, Kyle and Raul last season, and look forward to welcoming Justin back into the dugout,” said Sweets team president Zachary Fraser. “These are men that care about our community and about winning the right way.”
A native of San Fernando Valley, California, Mutz is currently the head coach at Chaminade College Preparatory High School in West Hills, California, one of the nation’s best programs at producing high school baseball talent. He is back for his fourth year with Walla Walla and said he has thoroughly enjoyed his time with the Sweets.
“I’m grateful to be back in Walla Walla for my fourth season,” Mutz said. “The Sweets have treated me and my family so well that we feel like a part of the community. There is so much to appreciate about Walla Walla, especially the way the fans have supported our ball club since 2010.”
With the coaching staff now assembled, Mutz said this group of men love the game of baseball but most importantly they are all of high character. He also said that he is looking forward to getting back at it with the Sweets this summer with a very talented roster.
“I can’t wait to get the club together in June,” Mutz said. “The entire staff including the front office has done an amazing job putting this 2018 ball club together. With key returners like Nick Nyquist, Danny Sinatro, Jake Suddleson, Ryan Johnston, Dylan Riddle, and Darius Vines, we have a strong nucleus of very good players. If the Sweets can throw strikes, play solid defense, I am convinced we will be in a position to make a strong playoff bid and run this summer.”
Camacho is from Oxnard, California and is back for his second year with Walla Walla where he will serve as the team’s pitching coach. He said that from top to bottom, the Sweets are the best run organization that he’s ever been associated with and that the fan support has been incredible.
“From the front office to the fans, it is top notch,” Camacho said of the Sweets organization. “I loved the hospitality of the people of Walla Walla and really look forward to coming back to that this summer to differentiate from the pace of SoCal.”
Camacho is currently the assistant athletic director at St. Bonaventure High School and had a storied career as the school’s head baseball coach before retiring from the position in 2012. He believes the Walla Walla community deserves a winner and that the staff and the players will work hard to bring it to #SweetsCountry this season.
“I am looking forward to finishing what we started last year,” Camacho said. “I feel the front office has put the pieces in place for this team to be really successful this season. I’m also looking forward to continuing the friendships I have made within the organization and the community of Walla Walla, as well as my daily walks downtown and getting to know the locals.”
Speer is a native of Gresham, Oregon and is currently the head coach of the softball team at Walla Walla Community College. He took over the program in 2015, and over his first three seasons there he has compiled an impressive 84–43 record.
“Walla Walla Community College has been a phenomenal school to work for and I have been blessed with the opportunity to coach there,” Speer said. “The Walla Walla community has been exactly what me and my wife were wanting when we moved here. It has been a wonderful place to work, live and raise my family.”
This will not be Speer’s first tenure with the Sweets, as he spent time as an assistant with the team during the 2015 season. He said it was an exceptional experience his first time around and that he’s thrilled to be back coaching with Walla Walla.
“I’m very thankful for the opportunity to be back coaching with the Sweets,” Speer said. “It means a great deal to be a part of such a professionally run organization like the Sweets that values their coaches, players and employees.”
Wilkerson is from Northridge, California and is back for his third year with the Sweets where he continues to serve as the team’s hitting coach. He said the experience with Walla Walla has been incredible, and that the best part is the small-town atmosphere because the community is so involved and supportive and it makes the drive to win that much more important.
Wilkerson said he is motivated by making his family proud, and that helps him to strive to always improve and get better. He is looking forward to getting to know the new players with the Sweets this summer and of course, a lot of winning.Read Less
Trojan pair will provide additional power and speed to the 2018 Walla Walla roster
Walla Walla, Wash. – The Sweets bring the glitz, glamour and sunshine from Los Angeles to the team this summer with the signing of a pair from the University of Southern California. Tyler Pritchard (IF) and Trevor Halsema (OF) will take to Borleske Stadium for Walla Walla in the 2018 season.
“USC is among the most prestigious baseball programs in the country,” said Sweets team president Zachary Fraser. “To be able to extend our strong relationship by adding players that Coach Hubbs trusts for future contributions is our honor. We expect these Trojans to deliver and look forward to both Tyler and Trevor being a big part of our season in Walla Walla.”
Pritchard is a native of Lake Elsinore, California and went to Temescal Canyon High School where he was a standout athlete. He played with the varsity baseball team for three full seasons and was named to the All-Sunbelt League team all three years. Over his varsity career at Temescal Canyon, Pritchard compiled a .347 batting average with 23 doubles, 41 RBI and 64 runs scored.
Now a sophomore with USC, Pritchard has appeared in 31 games over his Trojan career. He is studying business administration and plans to start his own business after the conclusion of his baseball career.
Halsema grew up in San Diego, California and went to Madison High School where he played four seasons with the varsity baseball team. Over those four years, he racked up a .334 batting average with 22 doubles, 54 RBI and 68 runs scored. He was named to the All-League team his freshman, sophomore and senior seasons and in 2017 was named to the Rawlings Perfect Game honorable mention team.
Currently a true freshman for the Trojans, Halsema is working to find his role with the club and anticipates that a summer in the WCL will help him develop that role. He has yet to declare a major but said that his ultimate goal is to become an FBI agent.
Sweets head coach Frank Mutz feels that both players from USC will be significant additions to an increasingly talented roster for the upcoming 2018 season.
“I’m looking forward to having a couple of Trojans with us this summer and am very familiar with Pritchard and Halsema, both having played their high school careers in Southern California,” Mutz said. “Tyler is a solid defender capable of playing multiple infield positions who will bring another left-handed bat and speed to our lineup. Trevor was considered one of the top high school prospects in Southern California coming out of school and will bring some additional power to an already explosive middle of the lineup.”
Dartmouth infielder and Santa Clara catcher make up newest additions
Walla Walla, Wash. – From California to New Hampshire, the Sweets have added another pair of talented players to their roster. Nate Ostmo (IF/Dartmouth College) and Jake MacNichols (C/Santa Clara University) will take to the field for Walla Walla in 2018.
“I had a great experience last year in Ohio playing in the Great Lakes League,” Ostmo said. “One of the things that I wanted to do was to take my experience from last year in a good league and raise the bar, go to a more competitive league and play in a place that’s closer to home where I can be close to family. Playing in Walla Walla in the West Coast League satisfies all of those things.”
“I was talking to one of my coaches and we decided that the WCL was a great league for me to go to,” MacNichols said. “One of my old high school buddies played for the Bellingham Bells and he said it was a great experience and that I should try to play in the WCL.”
Ostmo is from Portland, Oregon and attended Lincoln High School where he was a star-studded athlete. A four-year letter winner in baseball, he served as team captain his final two seasons. His junior year he was named Portland 6A Player of the Year and his senior year he helped lead his team to the Portland Interscholastic League Championship.
“I had a great experience at Lincoln High School,” Ostmo said. “I was under Coach Rob Herder for three years before he left and then I was lucky enough to have some really good young coaches, CJ Watson and Michael Blake, come in and take over the program and they’ve done a great job ever since.”
Ostmo is now a junior at Dartmouth College and said he was drawn to the school because of the excellent academics and how much he loved the campus during his recruiting visit. In his first two seasons playing for the Big Green, Ostmo batted .260 with one homerun, four triples, and 23 RBI. Playing primarily at shortstop, he has 130 assists, 65 putouts, and an .899 fielding percentage.
While the team has struggled at times to string together winning seasons, Ostmo said his experience has been about so much more than that. He feels the relationships that he has built and the people with which he has surrounded himself with will go much farther than the wins and losses of his college baseball career.
“When I think about the baseball program here as a whole, [I think about] the high character and caliber of people that they bring in,” Ostmo said. “When you talk about baseball, you can get lost in wins and losses, but at the end of the day I’m glad to be here because my teammates here are going to be my friends for life. My experience has been defined by my teammates and the individuals that create the program, not so much the winning and losing.”
MacNichols is a native of Napa, California and attended Vintage High School where he was a highly touted prospect. He was invited to participate in the Area Code Games for the Oakland Athletics in the summer of 2015 and was tabbed by NorCalPreps.com as No. 31 in its Scouting Report’s Baseball Top 50 in 2016. Over his final two seasons with Vintage, MacNichols compiled a .348 batting average with 36 RBI, 16 doubles and four homeruns.
“We had a great group of guys there, a really tight group,” MacNichols said. “At one point during my junior year we had eight guys committed to play D1 baseball in our lineup, so that was pretty cool.”
Now a sophomore with Santa Clara University, MacNichols posted six homeruns and eight RBI in his first year with the Broncos. Behind the plate, he recorded 229 putouts with a fielding percentage of .974 and threw out 13 baserunners attempting to steal.
The team struggled mightily last year, finishing the season with a record of 13-40. Then Rusty Filter came in and took over as head coach of the program, brought a new coaching staff along with him, and MacNichols said that has completely changed the direction of the team.
“The culture we have now within the baseball team is unreal,” MacNichols said. “It’s always been strong but now that we’re winning with each other – it’s unreal – and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. It’s basically the same group of guys making an impact this year as last year, which shows you what a new coaching staff can do. They haven’t changed anything mechanical, it’s all on the mental side of the game. We have the talent and ability to do it, so it’s just the mental part that they’re helping us out with.”
Both players expressed their excitement in getting out to Walla Walla, meeting the talented group of players the Sweets have put together, and having fun while competing for a WCL championship.
“Each summer team has a fun identity,” Ostmo said. “We’re all there to get better and develop, but I’m looking forward to having a good time with the guys while playing baseball at the same time.”
“Getting to know a whole new group of guys with everyone being from different sides of the country, I think that’s the best time,” MacNichols said. “When it turns into the dog days of summer and it starts getting tough, when you start winning that makes it even more fun.”
Teams will compete to raise money for WWVYBS, raised nearly $5k last year
Walla Walla, Wash. – The most talented players in the Walla Walla Valley who have excelled in their high school career will once again have the chance to showcase their talent against the current stars of college baseball getting prepared for their West Coast League season. Walla Walla Valley Youth Baseball & Softball (WWVYBS) and the Walla Walla Sweets have come together again to produce the second annual showcase event for talented Valley-wide high school baseball players for the 2018 season. This event will be hosted at Borleske Stadium on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 with the event starting at 6:35 PM.
The collection of top high school performers will play against the Sweets in a modified showcase-style event. The game will accomplish three goals:
1. Raise funds for youth baseball and softball in the Walla Walla Valley – net proceeds (game revenues less operating expenses) will go to the WWVYBS non-profit organization. These funds are used by area youth teams and programs to fund operations, travel expenses, and other developmental needs associated with providing youth of all backgrounds a chance to play baseball and softball – last year we raised nearly $5,000.
2. Prepare the Sweets for the upcoming WCL season – following the example of Major League Baseball teams that play pre-season exhibitions against area college programs, this game will allow the Sweets coaching staff to evaluate players on the roster in the context of Borleske Stadium – the first time that the baseball operations staff will have a chance to see the team together before the WCL season starts
3. Prepare the Stadium staff for the upcoming season – each year, the Sweets hire more than 75 people for food and beverage and stadium jobs – and for many, it is there first job. With Opening Day 2018 on pace to draw 2,200 people, there isn’t an event in town that can prepare the staff for crowds that size. This event will allow stadium operations managers and their staffs to be prepared for 45,000+ fans during the season in a real-time environment.
“After the tremendous success of this event last year, we are thrilled to once again partner with the Sweets in bringing this opportunity for local high school athletes to showcase their baseball skills while also raising funds to support American Legion Baseball, Babe Ruth Baseball, Blue Mountain Girls Softball and travel teams,” said Rick Eskil, president of Walla Walla Valley Youth Baseball & Softball. “The Sweets do a great deal for our community and its youth programs and this is yet another example of that.”
The roster for the showcase team will be selected by area high school coaches and will feature 15 players on the roster. Each player will wear customized hats and uniforms and will be given a personalized wood bat for the event. The game structure will be slightly different than a traditional baseball game, as showcase games include controlled pitch counts and other features that protect the health and welfare of players on both sides.
The showcase team will once again be managed by Sweets partner Jeff Cirillo. Jeff played 14 years in Major League Baseball, was a 2-time All-Star and played collegiate baseball at USC. He continues to coach amateur baseball in the Seattle area and is also a scout for the Los Angeles Angels.
“We are thrilled to be hosting this game again,” said Sweets general manager Dan Ferguson. “It is a fun and unique platform to help develop and raise money for youth baseball talent in the Valley, and the ability to have a former MLB All-Star be able to work with the kids in our community is just a fantastic opportunity overall. We are looking forward to another memorable event and the chance to raise even more money this year for the youth programs affiliated.”
How to get tickets for the public: Ticket commitments are available from teams associated with WWVYBS starting April 3rd. They will be selling the tickets to friends and family in the community. For information on how to acquire tickets from these teams, please contact WWYVSB Board member Mike Lemma (email@example.com). Tickets will be available at the Borleske Stadium Box Office on the day of the game, with the Box Office opening at 4:30 PM, and prior to the event online starting April 30th.
About Walla Walla Valley Youth Baseball & Softball:
Walla Walla Valley Youth Baseball & Softball was founded 34 years ago to raise funds for Babe Ruth Baseball and American Legion Baseball. Over the years, it expanded to provide funds for softball programs. In addition, WWVYB&S sponsors the Batter Up Program, which provides gloves and other equipment for baseball and softball players who cannot otherwise afford the necessary gear.
Sweets bolster outfield and pitching staff with a duo of Yellowjackets
Walla Walla, Wash. – The Sweets added a couple of stingers to their roster by signing a pair of Montana State University Billings Yellowjackets. Jalen Garcia (OF/Junior) and Carson Woolery (RHP/Junior) have joined #SweetsCountry and will take the field at Borleske Stadium for Walla Walla this summer.
“My coach was trying to get me into different areas around the country, but then he said, ‘The Sweets are here for you, [you’ve] got a spot,’ so I said, ‘Sign me up!’” Garcia said. “I’m ready to play ball in the WCL and get going.”
“Ever since my freshman year when we went to the Sweets’ games, I was always telling my buddies that I wanted to play for this summer team eventually,” Woolery said. “It’s always been a team I wanted to play for, so I’m really excited to have the opportunity.”
Garcia is a native of Billings, Montana where he attended Billings Christian High School. Montana does not have state-wide high school baseball, so he played American Legion with the Billings Scarlets and had an outstanding career with them.
He was a three-time All-State selection and his senior year in 2015 was named Montana Baseball MVP and won the Montana state batting title. That same year, Garcia helped lead the Scarlets to a AA Montana baseball state championship and took home tournament MVP after going 13 for 22 with 11 RBIs in the team’s five games.
“I loved it; we had a great program and the coach was awesome,” Garcia said of his time with the Scarlets. “It was definitely different being the only guy from my high school [to play there]. I didn’t really know any of the guys, having not grown up or played ball with them, but it was a great experience. We were super good and winning state was awesome, too.”
Garcia spent his first year playing collegiately with Corban University and put up some excellent numbers. He started 30 games and finished the season with a .294 batting average, four doubles, a homerun and 11 RBI.
“It was definitely a learning experience,” Garcia said. “Getting to the college scene and getting comfortable was really good [for me].”
The talented outfielder then transferred to Montana State University Billings and had a terrific sophomore year with the Yellowjackets. He compiled a .327 batting average, 11 doubles, five homeruns, 38 RBI, and was tabbed second-team All-GNAC. He was recently named to the 2018 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association preseason second-team All-West Region.
“Loved it,” Garcia said of the MSUB baseball program. “The coaches keep us working hard and run a really professional organization. They keep us on our toes, keep us on our grades, just keep us in line really well, and we’ve been having some success here.”
Garcia is now settled into playing at a four-year university but didn’t have that opportunity when he was coming out of high school. He was lightly recruited and garnered little interest from four-year programs, but not letting it discourage him, he has used it as a chip on his shoulder to continually motivate himself.
“When you’re coming out of high school, not having any D1 offers, not really having a whole lot of offers [in general] and being the Montana MVP and winning the batting title, you expect some [offers or interest],” Garcia said. “But it’s tough getting recruited out of Montana, especially when you only have Legion ball. So, it’s been a motivation for me my whole life, and I let it fuel me, but I don’t let it get to me.”
The Billings native had the chance to play in the West Coast League this past summer with the Wenatchee AppleSox, but despite putting up some solid numbers offensively, Garcia felt he could have had a stronger performance. He finished the season with a .276 batting average, 14 doubles, two homeruns, and 21 RBI.
“It was a good time, a great experience,” Garcia said of playing for the AppleSox. “I definitely wish I could’ve played a little better, which is definitely going to motivate me this year. But it’s nice to have a little experience under my belt and know what to expect, what the fields are like and the whole system.”
With the AppleSox Garcia had the chance to play at Borleske Stadium against the Sweets in the opening series of the season and was impressed with the support from the team’s fan base. He also said that Woolery has filled him in on what else he can expect to experience playing for the Sweets.
“Carson tells me about how crazy the fan base is there, how loyal they are, and how the players are like superstars around the community,” Garcia said. “When I was playing there in the outfield, it was definitely an experience opening there with so many people, it was awesome.”
A native of Caldwell, Idaho, Woolery went to Caldwell High School where he was a three-year varsity letterman in baseball. He said there were some ups and downs throughout his tenure there but that the team bonded over the adversity and that ultimately he feels the experience benefitted him in the long run.
“I feel like that really helped me grow as a player and as a leader overall because we had to take initiative at a young age because we didn’t have much handed to us throughout our high school career,” Woolery said. “So, overall it was a really good experience for me and my junior and senior years we had two really good seasons.”
Woolery played his first two college seasons for Walla Walla Community College and excelled on the mound for the Warriors. As a sophomore, he posted a 5-2 record with a 2.70 ERA over 53.1 innings. He was initially recruited as an infielder, but after a lackluster freshman season, he made the tough decision to convert to a full-time pitcher.
“Toward the end of my freshman year, my pitching coach, J.C. Biagi, pulled me aside and really sat me down and talked to me about if I wanted to come back the following year as a pitcher,” Woolery said. “He saw potential in me being on the mound, more so than being an infielder. Coming back to Walla Walla my sophomore year, I then made the choice that I wanted to do what I can to keep playing baseball, so I made the jump and became a pitcher. I tried to work really hard at it and pick Biagi’s mind because he’s a very smart man and made me the pitcher that I am today.”
The hard throwing right hander also spoke highly of Walla Walla Community College head coach Dave Meliah and the tremendous program that he runs.
“The two years I had at Walla Walla were so far the best two years of college that I’ve had,” Woolery said. “The city of Walla Walla, the school, and the baseball program were great experiences all around. It was a big family atmosphere that we had, so it was just a really great day-to-day grind.”
Woolery began to garner a lot of interest from four-year universities after his time with WWCC, but he ultimately chose to play for Montana State University Billings. He said he was drawn to the program because of head coach Aaron Sutton and his reputation for having an exceptional approach to the game.
“A big dream of mine during high school was to play for him because I heard so many great things about him,” Woolery said. “Just the way he ran programs, I was really interested in the opportunity to play under him.”
Though it’s still early on in his tenure with the Yellowjackets, Woolery said he has enjoyed his time so far in Billings and that it was a significant change of scenery but a smooth transition overall.
“It’s been really great, but it was a big change coming over,” Woolery said. “I really enjoyed eastern Washington, and I had never been to this part of Montana. But it’s a great team that I didn’t have trouble getting involved with or making friends with, so right away I felt like one of the guys.”
Having spent two years in Walla Walla, Woolery became familiar with the Sweets program and attended several games while there. He said he was extremely impressed with Borleske Stadium and the energy the fans bring, and after experiencing that, he knew it was something of which he wanted to be a part.
“It’s a great atmosphere, the fans are amazing, and it’s just really cool to see the whole town of Walla Walla come around one specific thing,” Woolery said. “Especially with a team like the Sweets that’s very family and fan oriented, it’s a really cool thing. Playing in [that environment] with the huge grandstand we have and everything, it’s going to be a really fun time.”
Sweets head coach Frank Mutz said he is excited with the prospect of adding yet another pair of talented players, this time from Montana State University Billings. He believes both players will play key roles in the Sweets’ success this season.
“Woolery has a big arm and will fit into one of the starting roles or could be a closer,” Mutz said. “With his success in the NWAC and his season at Montana State, he will add stability and experience to our staff. And I’ve been watching Garcia’s start to his 2018 season at Montana State. His numbers are unreal, and my hope is that he can put those kinds of stats up this summer in Walla Walla. I believe he should fit right into the top of our line up.”
Borleske Stadium to Host the Two Storied Programs on 7/16/2018
There were Two.
Walla Walla, Wash. – In the long and decorated history of high school baseball in Walla Walla “two” is the number of programs that existed in the community for as long as most can remember. Long before College Place and Walla Walla Valley Academy donned their respective uniforms there were two options in town for aspiring young ball players – Walla Walla High School or DeSales Catholic High School. One was the “Big 9” 4A juggernaut, boasting names like Jared Jones, Eric O’Flaherty and Jason Grove; the other was perhaps one of the most decorated small schools in the nation led by names like Joe Levens, Dave Meliah and Pat Graham.
“Two” also represents the total number of times that the programs faced off in some hundred years of combined existence. The reasons were varied – size discrepancy/classification, public vs. private, scheduling conflicts; some in the community felt that one school had everything to gain and nothing to lose, while the other had nothing to gain and everything to lose. While players from both programs knew each other well, thanks to little league and summer programs played together in the Walla Walla Valley, it was a once-in-a-generation experience to play each other in a high school game that meant something. Loyal local baseball fans would remember those two beautiful sunny days in the late 90’s.
One remnant of that history is the venerable ballpark that has evolved so much since the teams last faced off there in the Spring of 1998. Wa-Hi once called Borleske ‘home’ before the construction of Murr Field. While the Irish of DeSales played home games across the ivy-laden fence to the east at Ray Lane, they were no stranger to Borleske, having competed in numerous district and regional tournaments en route to their many state championship appearances.
As luck would have it after those two games at Borleske Stadium in the Spring of ’97 and Spring of ‘98, the teams find themselves in the awkward baseball position of having one win apiece – an unsettled series tie.
That will change, starting July 16, 2018 at Borleske Stadium. Kind of.
The Walla Walla Sweets, members of the West Coast League and a community leader in using baseball and Borleske Stadium as a fundraising platform for community improvement, have partnered with Wonderboy Creative, a local marketing, web and design firm with roots in Sweets baseball and the Walla Walla Valley, to launch the Inaugural Alumni Classic. The event will pit alumni from the Walla Walla High School Blue Devils baseball program against alumni from the DeSales Catholic High School Fighting Irish baseball program in a 7-inning, wood-bat baseball game – with umpires and all. The game will be played at Borleske Stadium on Monday, July 16, 2018. While the competition on the field will be fierce, both alumni programs are coming together with the Sweets and Wonderboy to raise money for the respective school programs, with a portion of NET proceeds of the game being donated to the schools.
The school that sells the most tickets will be the home team, and there is skin in the game for the result of the game on the field: the winning school will take home 55% of the NET proceeds, with the losers taking home 45%.
“The goal is to help both sides find a fun, unique way to raise needed dollars to help improve the student experience,” said Sweets president Zachary Fraser. “Maybe the need is in the athletic department, maybe the need is new trombones for the music department. We don’t really have a specific fundraising goal other than to make it a large donation and to have fun with our community while doing it.”
The idea was hatched in the late nights of the early years of building the Sweets, when Wonderboy founder J.C. Biagi was an integral part of Fraser’s team in the Sweets front office. The two would float fun ideas to host events at the stadium while building desks, clubhouse lockers, guest services booths and other necessary projects for a start-up baseball team. With the Sweets now firmly rooted as a Walla Walla community staple, and Wonderboy starting to lead the way in creating remarkable customer brand experiences, the timing was right to pitch this event to the respective school communities.
“I think I speak for many when I say we’re grateful to our schools for the opportunities that we were provided in our youth,” said Biagi ‘00 – who coincidentally played baseball for Hall of Fame coach Kim Cox at DeSales. “As former players, we get to spend time with old friends and teammates while reliving some great memories at a beautifully renovated Borleske. Being able to do so while raising money for current students in our community is an incredible opportunity.”
Wa-Hi graduate and former baseball player Jason Magnaghi ‘96, now vineyard manager for Figgins Family Wine Estate, has been tabbed the team coordinator for Wa-Hi, while Biagi is taking the lead for DeSales. Rosters will consist of 21 players, 30 years old and over for each side. It will, no doubt, be difficult to whittle down from the many, many great players to have played for both programs. That is why the planning for the 2018 event is being done in such a way that this event develops into an annual summer tradition, creating opportunity to involve more alumni in the future.
“We hope that not only will it energize and unite the schools in a common community goal, but that it will also serve as a catalyst in the future to give people who grew up in the Valley and live away from here now another reason to come back and visit,” said Fraser.
Sweets season ticket members will have the opportunity to purchase seats for the event early, with game tickets open to the public May 1. Individual students will have a chance to participate in a ticket sales contest, with a $1000 scholarship on the line for the top seller among the two student bodies, a $500 scholarship contribution for the 2nd highest seller, and a $250 scholarship contribution to the 3rd place seller.
Ticket prices will be as follows:
Premium Seating (behind home plate, field boxes, and beer garden tables): $18
Premium Seating (behind home plate, field boxes, and beer garden tables) w/commemorative t-shirt in school colors: $28
General Admission Seating (1st base, 3rd base, outfield grandstands): $14
General Admission Seating (1st base, 3rd base, outfield grandstands) w/commemorative t-shirt in school colors: $24
Additional details will follow shortly, including links for purchasing tickets and promotional opportunities.
Zachary Fraser, Walla Walla Walla Sweets
J.C. Biagi, Wonderboy Creative
歡迎來到 Walla Walla
Walla Walla, Wash. – The Sweets have gone international with their latest signing, adding talented Taiwanese catcher Wei-Chieh (Willy) Chang from Kainan University. He is set to join the growing talented Walla Walla roster for the upcoming 2018 season.
Sweets team president and owner Zachary Fraser expressed his excitement for having Chang as a member of the team this upcoming season and looks forward to incorporating him into the Walla Walla community.
“We can’t wait to introduce Willy to the Walla Walla Valley and vice versa,” Fraser said. “His talent will play well in the league and it will provide a great cultural opportunity for our staff, players and fans. #SweetsCountry has shown remarkable love towards every player to ever wear the Sweets jersey and I know that Willy will have a similar reception.”
A native of Taipei City, the capital of Taiwan located at the northern part of the island, Chang went to Ku-Pao Home Economics and Commercial High School where he honed his skills on the baseball diamond.
“It was very competitive,” Chang said of his time at Ku-Pao. “Everyone got along with each other very well.”
Chang first visited the United States as a young athlete playing baseball for the Taiwan National Team in the 2011 PONY League Baseball World Series hosted in Washington, Pennsylvania. His team came up just short, losing in the championship game, but Chang said he thoroughly enjoyed the experience and going to the American shopping malls and outlets.
Two-time WCL All-Star Nick Nyquist becomes the latest 3-year Sweet
Walla Walla, Wash. – A familiar face will be back on the diamond this summer with the Sweets’ most recent signing. Nick Nyquist (IF/Gonzaga University) is set to rejoin Walla Walla for the upcoming 2018 season.
Nyquist grew up in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and went to Coeur d’Alene High School where he had an exceptional baseball career. He finished his senior year in 2014 with a .506 batting average, six homeruns, and 34 RBI and was named Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year, Idaho Hall of Fame Baseball Player of the Year, and Inland Empire League MVP. From his sophomore year through his senior year, Nyquist was also named first team All-State and first team All-League.
“It was really great,” Nyquist said of his time at Coeur d’Alene. “We made a good run there and ended up winning the district title five years in a row, all four that I was there. We were really good and just had a good group of guys and a fun atmosphere.”
Nyquist is a redshirt junior at Gonzaga, having utilized his redshirt designation prior to the 2016 season. In the two seasons that he has played with the Bulldogs, Nyquist has appeared in 42 games and has a .238 batting average and a .347 on base percentage.
“I’ve loved every second of [playing at Gonzaga],” Nyquist said. “We have a really good group of guys; it’s a really tight knit group. There’s just a team-first type of atmosphere, and there’s really nothing better than that. It’s just a bunch of selfless guys and we all go out there and do our thing.”
He is the son of Lisa and Mike Nyquist. His father, Mike, played baseball collegiately at Whitworth University and Washington University, then briefly played professionally in the minor leagues. Nick has a brother, Chad, who played college baseball at Spokane Falls Community College.
Exciting new features now accessible as Sweets unveil new website
Walla Walla, Wash. – The Walla Walla Sweets announced Monday the launch of a newly redesigned, fully optimized website, wallawallasweets.com. As the team enters their 9th season of play in the West Coast League, team leadership determined it was time for a facelift.
“When we first launched our website nine years ago, many of the features were on the cutting edge of technology,” said Sweets president Zachary Fraser. “Technology has grown by leaps and bounds since then and we felt it was an appropriate time to upgrade.”
The new website features upgrades to many of the things fans have come to love, including an automated Sweets video feed, team news, and upcoming game and ticket information accessible throughout the site. In addition to the staples, the new site will feature up to date league stats during the season, a sleek and modern Game Center showcasing details for each game (starting pitcher, team records and statistics, and promotions), social buttons to make sharing information with family and friends easier, plus more.
“In redesigning this site we put a lot of focus on our fans,” added Fraser. “In addition to a seamless and user-friendly interface, it was important that we work toward creating more in-depth content areas where fans can interact and get to know our organization more closely.”
The Sweets have partnered with local marketing and design agency Wonderboy Creative on the project. While there are many design and development agencies out there, it was Wonderboy’s ability to customize the website around baseball’s nuances that made them the clear choice.
“We love challenges like this and we are thrilled to work with Zachary and his team to develop an improved solution,” said Wonderboy partner Katie Biagi. “We have an intimate and unique connection to the Sweets and baseball in general that allowed us to approach this differently than most projects.”
While fans will enjoy the front-end of the site, it’s the fully customized content management areas on the backend that bring the site up to date. A challenge with a lot of websites, and a challenge with the Sweets previous site, is the need to input the same material more than once in order to ensure it displays in various locations on the website. One of the top priorities for both the Sweets and Wonderboy was to create an easier to use backend for front office staff and eliminate the need for duplicate input.
“We, like Zachary and the Sweets, dream big then figure out a way to make things happen,” continued Biagi. “We were all able to put our heads together and build a site that hopefully brings fans closer to the game, while saving the Sweets staff time to focus on getting ready for the season.”
Some cool features to explore include the roster, complete with more in-depth information, including social follow options to keep up with your favorite Sweets players, and a unique mobile roster view. Both the listed and calendar view schedule feature the above mentioned game center. Additionally, each WCL team has its own page, allowing fans to learn more about Sweets opponents as well as find out when the team will face off against them during the season.
“We are very proud of our new website,” added Fraser. “It represents an investment in our fans and team that we hope everyone will enjoy exploring as much as we do.”
Sweets add talented, experienced player from Creighton University
Walla Walla, Wash. – From the home of the College World Series to Borleske Stadium, the Sweets’ newest signing represents the first Creighton player in Walla Walla team history. Junior Jordan Hovey (IF) will suit up and be on the diamond for the Sweets this summer.
“I’ve heard a lot about the Sweets,” Hovey said. “He told me it’s a great league and a great organization. I played in the Northwoods League the past two years and I wanted to get to a different part of the country and play in a competitive league. So, I thought it would be a great fit, and I’m lucky to have the opportunity.”
Hovey is a native of Edwardsville, Illinois where he went to Edwardsville High School and had a great baseball career. His senior year in 2015, he finished the season with a .382 batting average, 32 RBI, 25 extra base hits, was named an All-American, and played in the Illinois All-Star Game.
“I went through some ups and downs in my time at Edwardsville, hitting around .200 my sophomore and junior seasons,” Hovey said. “Then my senior year, I was finally able to put it all together and break through. That year, we finished 32-2 and were one of the highest ranked teams in the nation. So I take a lot of pride in having gone to school there and it really helped to prepare me for college baseball.”
He played his first year of collegiate baseball with Missouri State but saw limited action, primarily as a pinch hitter. Hovey then transferred to Jefferson College and put up some gaudy numbers for the Vikings. He finished the season with a .335 batting average, 13 doubles, three triples, nine homeruns, 55 RBI, and a 1.066 OPS.
“I really enjoyed Missouri State, but I didn’t play to the best of my abilities while there and felt like I needed to go somewhere else to get more playing time and just to play to get better,” Hovey said. “So, it worked out in a way where I got to go to Jeff-Co and play for Coach Evers, which was awesome. It was just a really great experience for me [at Jefferson].”
Now attending Creighton University, Hovey said he chose to play there because of the tremendous opportunities he has both athletically and academically with the Bluejays.
“I went to Creighton because I felt like it would put me in a great position to develop, to become the best player I can be, and give me the chance to compete in an NCAA Regional,” Hovey said. “Also, the education here is top of the line, so that was another factor. But yeah, the guys are all great, the coaches are awesome, so we’re just trying to get better everyday and continue to become more disciplined and organized as a team.”
Sweets owner and team president, Zachary Fraser, is ready to have Bluejays in a Sweets uniform and said he hopes to continue to develop a relationship with the Creighton baseball program and Coach Servais.
“We’re excited about starting a relationship with Creighton,” Fraser said. “Our success with Midwest programs gives us confidence that Bluejay players will be no different. With Hovey, we are getting a mature, developed player and we will count on his experience over the course of a challenging WCL schedule.”Read Less
Young trio will play key role for the Sweets this summer
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
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
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.
“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.”
“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.”
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 the University of Nevada, Reno 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.”
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 the University of Nevada, Reno 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.
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
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,” Lesmeister said. “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,” Kutzke said 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