Three NNU Nighthawks Added to Pippins Roster

YAKIMA, Washington — A trio of college teammates from Northwest Nazarene University are the latest additions to the Yakima Valley Pippins’ 2024 roster. Infielder/pitcher Gavin Brubaker, pitcher Adam Brooks, and outfielder Casey Wayne will head to Yakima once the college season concludes.

Brubaker is currently a freshman for the Nighthawks. He played in all four games this past weekend, in which the team won three of four against Central Washington. The Lakewood, Washington, native plays in the infield and has also pitched a bit during his first collegiate season. The ability to get some more work defensively in the infield is what Brubaker is most excited about for the summer season.

“I would say (I’m excited about) stuff on the defense, as well as ABs,” Brubaker said.

His father played baseball at Pepperdine. This high-level experience within his family played a large role in Brubaker’s growth as a baseball player from a young age.

“He was one of my coaches from an early age, and he played baseball as well. So, I kind of just want to follow in his footsteps,” said the 6-foot right-hander.

One piece of advice from his father that stuck out in Brubaker’s head was about making sure he always has fun when playing this sport.

“He said just always have fun. If it’s not fun, then you’re just sulking all the time. So, I like to just have fun, play loose, play free. I just love baseball,” he said.

Teammate Brooks has seen action in six complete innings on the mound so far for the Nighthawks. He has dealt three strikeouts and given up just two earned runs on the season through this past weekend in seven appearances.

The redshirt freshman mentioned that he is looking to just focus on the simple things about pitching as he approaches the summer season.

“I’m focused on not getting distracted between all the metrics and everything that comes with the new age of baseball. I’m just focusing on getting outs and competing,” Brooks said.

This will be Brooks’s second summer in the West Coast League. Most of his summer last year was spent dealing with a shoulder injury while part of the Walla Walla Sweets organization. Now that the Puyallup, Washington, native is part of the Pippins organization, he is excited about the fanbase in Yakima.

“I would just say the fanbase. Being able to play in front of the community,” said the lefty pitcher.

Wayne is the third member of the Nighthawks headed to Yakima. He spent the 2023 summer season with the Port Angeles Lefties of the WCL, so his experience level is a bit higher than others. He played in six games last summer and scored two runs. Playing in Washinton state was something Wayne really enjoyed the first time around.

“Last year was my first year up in Washington, when I played with Port Angeles, and that was a pretty cool experience,” the Arizona native said.

“The weather was nice. It felt cooler than Arizona, but everything was fun about it. I enjoyed that experience a lot, just seeing the different scenery, and everyone out there was really nice. It was a great time, so I’m excited for it again in Yakima.”

As a redshirt junior in college, Wayne has a lot of experience at the collegiate level. After spending three years at Phoenix Community College and making it to two World Series with the program, he took the leap to the NCAA level to continue to test himself. This jump is another step in the growth of the outfielder’s career.

“I feel like every year there’s another step that I take,” Wayne said.

“JUCO has definitely prepared me pretty well for this year, coming into NCAA for my first year. I’ve seen a lot of action on the field, and just learning IQ of the game and everything that comes in between the lines has been something that I feel like I learn every day,” said the former 2nd Team All-Region player while at PCC.

All three will finish their collegiate seasons in late May and take the trip over to Yakima to swap out red and black for Pippins’ green. They are joining a group that is trying to make some improvements after Yakima Valley finished 20-34 last season.

The Pippins begin their 10th anniversary season on May 31 against the Springfield Drifters at Yakima County Stadium. Single-game tickets for select games are on sale at PippinsBaseball.com/tickets, and tickets for remaining regular-season games will go on sale later this month.

By Jake Schrantz

April 1, 2024