Current YVC coach has previous playing, coaching experience in West Coast League
YAKIMA, Wash. — Kyle Krustangel, current head coach at Yakima Valley College who also has West Coast League coaching and playing experience, is the new manager of the Yakima Valley Pippins.
Krustangel coached the past three summers for the Wenatchee AppleSox, but resigned his position in early September because of the grueling travel involved between his YVC and Wenatchee commitments. The AppleSox, foes of the Pippins in the WCL’s North Division, qualified for the WCL playoffs this year for the first time since 2013 under his leadership.
“I’m absolutely thrilled and grateful to the Pippins for bringing me on staff,” said Krustangel, who just bought his first house in Selah along with his wife, Katie. “I’m excited to get to know the Yakima community on a deeper level. I know we have our Yaks fans and our sports fans in Yakima. I was at the fair the other day and saw seven or eight Pippins sweatshirts, and I’m excited to have those faces become names next summer.”
Krustangel is entering his fifth season as YVC coach. In his first season in 2016, the Yaks won the college’s 21st NWAC baseball championship. He also was named NWAC East coach of the year, NWAC coach of the year and ABCA Regional coach of the year. During his first four years, in which his teams have won 141 games, the Yaks have won no fewer than 30 games each season.
Krustangel played in the WCL in 2007 for the Spokane RiverHawks, and played and was an assistant coach at Whitworth University, from which he graduated. He also was head varsity baseball coach at Bridgeport High School from 2011-2014, was head coach of the Spokane Bandits AAA American Legion team from 2012-2015, and was head coach of the Yakima Pepsi Beetles in 2016.
“We’re excited to have Kyle join the Pippins and help continue to build strong, exciting baseball programs in Yakima,” general manager Jeff Garretson said. “His energy is infectious, and I believe that will rub off not only on our players, but our fans as well.”
Krustangel succeeds Marcus McKimmy, who coached the Pippins during the franchise’s first six seasons. During McKimmy’s tenure, the Pippins became the first WCL expansion team to advance to the playoffs, and the Pippins also were the most successful expansion franchise in the WCL in its first two seasons. Krustangel also succeeded McKimmy as head coach at YVC in 2016.
“Marcus played a huge role in getting the Pippins off to a successful start,” Garretson said. “The formative years of any organization are crucial, and the work that Marcus did not just in player development, but in the community and with coaches and programs around the country, was critical to the successes we’ve had.”
Garretson said Krustangel’s coaching at YVC — and McKimmy’s coaching of the Yaks during his tenure — is advantageous for the Pippins.
“I view the Pippins as just one of a number of community assets that we have in Yakima,” said Garretson, whose family has deep baseball roots in the Yakima Valley extending back to the late 1930s. “YVC is another of those assets, and it has a rich history of success in baseball. As the Pippins continue to grow and evolve, we want to continue to build our own history of success as well.”
Krustangel agreed, noting that his approach to coaching the Yaks and the Pippins is essentially the same.
“In terms of how I organize the community college here in Yakima with the type of talent we’re bringing in and the type of players, it’s the same equation in the summertime. It shouldn’t be a complete 180,” Krustangel said. “Just because it’s some new faces during the summer, the expectations are the same. I want both groups to truly leave not just as better players, but as better people, better students, better family members.
“There’s a lot more that you can use this game to teach than just a right arm or a big bat. It’s important to me that all the guys I get to coach, we should be positively impacting their lives. That’s something that’s been with me since I started coaching.”
Krustangel said Pippins fans will appreciate the energy around the team.
“You’re going to see a team that plays the game hard,” he said. “You’re going to see guys getting on the field, getting off the field hard, playing the game how the game is supposed to be played. But, we’re going to be loose and have fun. Our guys are going to have good energy, and play the game the right way.
“At the same time, I want our guys to be interacting with fans before and after, playing catch with the kids. I really value bringing the youth of the community into the game and also letting our guys let their personalities show,” Krustangel said. “Sometimes guys get forced in college to play a certain way and be someone they’re not. I want each person, each player to let their personality come out and be himself.”
The Pippins open their seventh WCL season in June at Yakima County Stadium. Season tickets, mini plans and ticket vouchers are now on sale at the Pippins team store at 12 S. Second St., by calling 509-575-HITS, or at PippinsTickets.com.