It’s official: Gig Harbor High School pitcher Owen Wild will be a Zag.
On Sunday, July 28, Wild made it official by verbally committing to Gonzaga University, where he’ll join the baseball program after graduating from Gig Harbor in 2020.
Wild had narrowed down his top three choices to Seattle U, Gonzaga and a late-comer in the University of Utah. But Gonzaga stood out from the beginning.
“As soon as I got on the campus, I just fell in love,” Wild said.
“I really liked the town of Spokane and it kinda feels like home when I got out there. On the visit, I really connected with the coaches and right now they’re making plans to build an indoor practice facility right next to the stadium. It’s going to be a top of the line facility.”
Wild’s visit to Gonzaga coincided with him playing in a local tournament in Spokane with the Narrows Baseball Club. Wild pitched in the season finale for team pitching in the consolation game. Wild’s outing in the consolation game lasted 2 and ⅔ innings, collecting six strikeouts but giving up three runs in the effort.
The relationship that Wild has established with the Gonzaga program goes back to the fall of his sophomore year. When presented with an opportunity to take part in a high school prospect camp in Spokane, Wild decided to skip the 2017 Fish Bowl between Peninsula and Gig Harbor to participate in the camp. It was a small sacrifice that is seeing its payoff now with Wild headed to Gonzaga.
At the camp, Wild had a chance to face four live batters and struck out three. It was that effort on the mound that day that got Wild on GU pitching coach Brandon Harmon’s radar. After another successful outing at another camp, Seattle U offered Wild a scholarship which triggered an offer from Gonzaga not long after.
With three schools in hot pursuit for the Gig Harbor pitching prospect, it was Gonzaga’s vision for the future, program stability and their family-like atmosphere that boiled it down for Wild.
“The biggest thing that stood out for me was their sense of family,” Wild said. “When you talk to the coaching staff, they all have a great relationship and most of them are from Spokane and help preach that family atmosphere. One of the things that they talked about is that they not only want good baseball players but they want good people as well. It helps with team chemistry in the dugout and the clubhouse.”
The Gonzaga baseball program has had head coach Mark Machtolf a part of the program in some capacity since 1988, with the bulk of his time coming as head coach since 2004. In the last 10 seasons, the program has reached the NCAA Baseball Tournament three times (2009, 2016, and 2018) and the Bulldogs recently won over 30 games in each of the last four seasons. Wild is entering the final weeks of his 2019 summer baseball season and with just one tournament left in Centralia later this summer. He now feels a little more relief that he will not have to think about schools or recruiting. He can focus on playing water polo for the Tides this fall. The recruiting push has been put to bed and Wild is already sensing the weight lifted off of his shoulders.
“Yeah, it feels really good to commit at this point. There’s really been a weight lifted off of my shoulders,” Wild said. “You’re not trying to go out there and impress a coach or coaches watching in the stands. Every single game you go out there and you know there’s going to be a coach watching. It’ll be a lot easier knowing I have a place to go.”