YAKIMA, Wash. – A pitcher and catcher from Gonzaga University and a Western Oregon University pitcher with ties to the Yakima Valley are slated to join the Pippins when they open their season at home against Corvallis in June.
Catcher Stephen Lund and right-handed pitcher Owen Wild will join fellow Zag Reagan Haas (Riverside Christian) in Yakima, while former Yakima Valley Yak Seth Kuykendall will join the Pippins following his first season at Western Oregon.
Lund, a redshirt freshman, started behind the plate for three of Gonzaga’s first four games during the Sanderson Ford College Baseball Classic in Surprise, Arizona, on Feb. 14-17. The 5-foot-10 right-hander from Verona, Wisconsin, hit .231 to help his team to a 2-2 record over the weekend.
“Stephen is an elite defender with definitely a plus bat for a Division I catcher, but a guy that’s going to play a majority of games for the Zags, who look to be on top of the West Coast Conference,” said Pippins coach Kyle Krustangel, who stressed the importance of bringing in a veteran to work with younger catchers like Josh Davis, a YVC freshman who will be joining the Pippins for the summer as well. “It’s a great learning opportunity for Josh … and at the same time, it’s nice to have a guy that’s handling elite arms over there at Gonzaga.”
Wild, a 6-foot-3 senior at Gig Harbor High School, will get his first taste of collegiate competition with the Pippins before beginning his freshman year at Gonzaga in the fall. He owns Gig Harbor’s single-season strikeout record after retiring 112 batters in 78 innings last season.
Kuykendall is no stranger to Krustangel or the Yakima Valley, as he played with the Yaks for two seasons before transferring to Western Oregon last fall. Last season, the right-hander started 11 games for YVC, completing two of them while compiling a 7-2 record and 2.92 ERA. He also pitched for Krustangel’s former West Coast League team, the Wenatchee AppleSox, last summer, striking out 43 batters over 41.1 innings along the way to a 2.17 ERA.
“I’m thrilled to have Seth back. Seth’s a fan favorite,” Krustangel said. “I would imagine him coming to be a starter. He’s got a four-pitch mix, a strike thrower who had a lot of success last summer and threw in one of our playoff games.”