North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Baseball continues for MP grads

 

July 12, 2011

Evt Merchants

When the big league team gets you down and the minor leagues seem to be filled with unknown players, local baseball fans could save a few bucks by heading to Everett Memorial to see another team play.

The Everett Merchants, under head coach Harold Pyette-in his 39th season at the helm-are one of the founding members of the Pacific International League, which was established in 1992 and is primarily made up of current and former college players with roots in the area. It is one of the premier Summer Collegiate Baseball leagues for players in the Pacific Northwest, and many of the names on the team's 25-man roster should be familiar if you follow the local preps.

19 of the players that have appeared on this year's Everett roster are current or former NWAACC players, four are from Gonzaga and there is even a Washington Husky. Five such players are recent graduates of Marysville-Pilchuck High School. Playing for the Merchants is a way for these players to continue to hone their skills while playing close to their families and friends.

Levi Cartas (MPHS Class of 2009), Matt Cooper ('10), Ricky ('07) and Ty Holm ('09) and Matt Gange ('08) all were standouts in baseball as Tomahawks before playing for the Merchants. I sat down with these players before their game Monday to talk about their experiences with the club, their future plans and what playing for the Merchants meant to them.

"The best thing about it is that we're all guys that have been playing together for a long time," said Cartas, a switch-hitting infielder. "That made it easy to be comfortable here."

Pitcher Matt Cooper agrees, "I'd love to come back and play again next year. Playing with kids that I've played with all my life is a lot of fun."

Pitcher/outfielder Ty Holm grew up playing for Laces Baseball Academy and remembers looking up to Merchants players, "When I got here, it was kind of like 'I made it'," he says.

That is exactly the way that infielder Matt Gange feels, too. "Playing for the Merchants was something that I had really looked forward to through my baseball career. To get here was pretty special."

Playing for the Merchants may be the final stop for some of these players, but several will head to four-year colleges. Several have, and several more will, go on to be drafted and have professional careers. Over the years, the team has had 71 alumni with pro careers, with nine of those players making it to the major leagues. The five former Tommies–four of whom played for Everett Community College under former Merchants Levi Lacey and his assistant Shean Nasin–hope to at least play at four-year colleges as their next step.

Cartas is headed to either Seattle University or Northern State, Ty Holm is planning to attend Concordia University, Gange is likely headed to Western Oregon, while Cooper-who attends Bellevue-is undecided on his next stop, but does want to play at a four-year.

The team has played 26 of its 36 games and is near the top of its division in the standings. They have five home games left, and ticket sales help fund the cost of operating the team, which otherwise come out of the pocket of the coaching staff and players. At just $3 for adults, $2 for juniors and students, with kids six and under free, there isn't a better deal around to watch high quality baseball.

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