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 protected]). 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
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