Gonzaga to be Well Represented on Pippins Roster

Yakima Valley squad will feature three current, two future Zags

YAKIMA, Wash. – Three current Zags, a transfer and an incoming freshman will all represent the Gonzaga Bulldogs this summer in Yakima.

“I’m just excited that Coach (Mark) Machtolf and Coach (Brandon) Harmon, those guys do a good job not just getting us good baseball guys, but even better people,” Pippins head coach Kyle Krustangel said. “That’s exactly what the Pippins are about: having a quality clubhouse but also great baseball players. These guys all fit the mold. I’m excited to keep this relationship going so we’ll always have a plethora of Zags on our squad.”

Jaxon Sorenson, an infielder for Gonzaga who has played in the Expedition League, and Liam McCallum, a left-handed pitcher, will join returning player Connor Coballes on the Pippins roster this summer.

Sorenson will spend his freshman season at Gonzaga this spring as a utility player before heading to Yakima. With the Expedition League’s Wheat City Whiskey Jacks last summer, he slashed .267/.387/.420 with nine doubles, a triple and four home runs.

McCallum, a freshman, has represented Australia internationally at the U15 and U18 levels, and is an accomplished cricket and Australian football player. He was slated to join the Pippins in 2020 before the season was canceled.

That trio of Zags will be joined by Tyler Griggs, who last fall announced he will be transferring to Gonzaga from Central Arizona in the fall of 2022, and Payton Graham, an incoming Gonzaga freshman who hails from Richland.

“Sorensen and Griggs are two infielders that the Gonzaga coaches speak extremely highly of,” Krustangel said. “And it’s nice to have Liam play for us like he was supposed to a couple years ago. I’m excited to have these guys come in and be a part of our nucleus.”

Griggs, from Rochester, New York, was named an NJCAA All-American after leading Central Arizona with a .379 batting average and .487 on-base percentage. The infielder also notched 10 doubles, a triple and five home runs.

Graham, a right-hander out of Kamiakin High School, features a low-90s fastball he can mix with a curveball and pull the string on a changeup in the low 80s. A two-sport athlete, he was named the 2021 MCC Player of the Year as well as the MCC’s All-Purpose Player of the Year in football.

“Payton is a very talented young arm that the Zags are super excited to have,” Krustangel said. “He’s a guy I’ll look forward to throwing a lot of innings for us this summer.”

Pippins are scheduled to open their eighth WCL season at Yakima County Stadium on June 3 with a rematch of the 2021 West Coast League Championship Series against Corvallis. Opening night tickets are available now at PippinsTickets.com.

By Chris Rosato Jr.

February 18, 2022