Returning pitcher, newcomer join Pippins
YAKIMA, Wash. – A familiar face from 2016 and a newcomer who has dominated in his past two collegiate starts are the latest additions to the upcoming fourth season of the Yakima Valley Pippins.
Jordan Bocko, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound freshman at UC Irvine, pitched briefly for the Pippins last summer before a hand injury cut his season short. In four appearances, Bocko started three games, striking out 10 and walking four in 16.1 innings. He finished with an 0-1 record and a 1.65 ERA.
“What an opportunity to finish what he started in 2016 for Bocko,” Pippins manager Marcus McKimmy said. “His host family couldn’t wait to get him back when they heard the news. Our fans didn’t see much of him before the injury that ended his summer at Walla Walla. He will fill a big role on our pitching staff in 2017.”
So far this spring, Bocko has a 4.18 ERA and an 0-1 record at UC Irvine, with two starts in eight appearances. He’s struck out 20 and walked 13 in 23.2 innings.
Also joining the squad is 6-0, 190-pound right-hander Grant Townsend of Central Arizona College, who currently is 5-1 with a 1.76 ERA in 51 innings for the Vaqueros. He’s had a hot arm of late, tossing a complete-game, four-hit 6-0 win over Western Nebraska CC on March 17, and allowing just one run in eight innings in a 2-1 victory over Mesa CC on Sunday. In those two appearances, Townsend, of Bonney Lake, Wash., has struck out 22 and walked just one in 17 innings.
“Grant is a player I’ve had my eye on for several years now,” McKimmy said. “He has really made a noticeable jump for Coach Gilich at Central Arizona and will fit right in with our pitching staff. The fastball will be upper 80s with some 90 mph life at times, but we really like the breaking ball as it has allowed him to strikeout over a batter an inning so far in 2017.”
The Pippins host Victoria, British Columbia, on Friday, June 2, in the 2017 season opener, presented by Legends Casino and Hotel. On July 18, the Pippins will host the West Coast League All-Star Game, which will showcase the top talent from the summer league’s 11 teams in the Northwest. Season tickets and ticket mini plans – which include tickets to the All-Star Game -- are available for purchase at Hunky Shaw’s Team Shop, 12 S. Second St. in the historic Larson Building in downtown Yakima. Ticket packages also can be purchased by calling 509-575-4487 or online at pippinsbaseball.com.