Northwest colleges are beginning to buy the pitch about Puyallup-area baseball.
Not just from the Puyallup High School baseball program, but the city and the schools in the surrounding 10-mile radius are starting to look like a go-to hotspot for colleges in the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
With pitcher Michael Newstrom signing his commitment to Washington State University and infielder Michael Spellacy signing on with Gonzaga University inside the school’s library during a Nov. 9 ceremony, it’s now been four consecutive years a Pac-12 program has come calling for the talent that Vikings boast.
“It’s been a good run,” Puyallup coach Marc Wiese said.
Rogers High senior Kolby Force signed on with Concordia University (Portland).
It’s been a real good run for Puyallup baseball and Wiese indeed, as the program has become one of the top recruiting spots for college baseball, as Weise has seemingly churned out one Division I-level talent after another.
“Probably the biggest joy I get out of baseball is being apart of helping them with the opportunity to play at the next level,” said Wiese, who’s entering his 21st season with Puyallup. “We love winning baseball here, but the biggest joy is seeing guys moving on.”
The Pac-12 schools in the Northwest have plenty of familiar faces. Former Puyallup Vikings Levi Jordan, Christopher Micheles and Austin Stump are at Washington along with Emerald Ridge High graduate Alex Meyers.
At Oregon State, one of the program’s top pitchers, Puyallup grad Luke Heimlich, helped the Vikings win a state championship in 2014, while his OSU teammate Michael Gretler (Bonney Lake) has put up highlight plays that reached ESPN’s “Sportcenter” Top 10 plays.
Former Oregon State catcher and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Logan Ice (Rogers) was drafted by the Cleveland Indians with the 72nd pick of the 2016 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
“It’s going to be so much fun as lot of guys from Puyallup are at UW,” Newstrom said. “I think it speaks to what Wiese preaches: Just be prepared every day and make sure you get your stuff done. To join Luke Heimlich and Chris Micheles in Pac-12 schools is an amazing feeling and humbling.”
And back-to-back NAIA national champion Lewis-Clark State College (Idaho) has never shied away from this area as Tyler McDowell (Puyallup) and Gabe Reiten (Spanaway Lake) will be joined by former Vikings third baseman Ryan Peterson in an attempt for a third national title in as many years.
“I can just speak that (Wiese) made me a better player,” said Spellacy, who will join Rogers graduate Troy Johnston at Gonzaga. “The atmosphere of playing a night game at Heritage Field is second to none. I haven’t seen anything like it. The game under the lights is a great atmosphere.”
It’s also the kind of atmosphere that Wiese and fellow coaches Matt White (Rogers) and Larry Marshall (Emerald Ridge) have used to help foster so much talent.
“It’s pretty cool to turn on the Pac-12 Network or get a chance to go up to UW. Or travel down to Oregon State or WSU — just seeing them compete, win or lose,” Wiese said. “Just seeing them play the game the right way. That gives me joy.”