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Summer leagues keep Lute baseball players on the field in the area and abroad

By Dave Girrard


After putting together one of the best seasons in the history of PLU baseball last spring, head coach Geoff Loomis and several of his players joined other teams for summer play.

Loomis’ summer team won a national championship, and he was named manager of the year. Pitcher Matt Serr ’05 was invited to play for a collegiate traveling team that spent two weeks in Holland in early July and won an elite tournament. Several others took part in other summer league play.

“It was an experience I’ll never forget,” Serr said. “Meeting guys from all over the United States and from The Netherlands and all over Europe was great. It was really neat seeing a different country and their values. ”

Matt traveled with an elite baseball team to Holland, where he competed and conducted a children's baseball clinic. Photos courtesy of Matt Serr.

The tour was sponsored by International Sports Tours, based in Los Angeles, which arranges tours in 12 sports including baseball in 23 countries. Serr first learned of the baseball tournament from Loomis, and was selected following an application process. Players are selected based on their grades, playing talent and community involvement.

The next step was fund-raising. Serr needed to raise $2,400 for the trip. He sent out about 40 letters and raised about half from family and friends. He earned the rest working at Red Robin restaurant.

The trip to Holland first stopped in Cincinnati, Ohio – where he met all of the U.S. players – and then went to Amsterdam. During the first three days of their stay in Holland the team ran a baseball clinic for kids. “That was a great experience,” Serr said . “It was really neat because they looked up to us like professional baseball players.”

Then came a couple of practices and the games. The team, based in Apeldoorn – about an hour from Amsterdam – was called the Warriors. All of the players on the team were from NCAA Division III schools. The Warriors won all seven games against teams from Germany, Belgium, Italy and two other U.S. squads to claim the title.

Serr played in four games at third base or second base and pitched in one game, tossing all five innings of a 4-2 win. Even though he hadn’t hit in a game in three years, he still had seven hits in 11 trips to the plate (a .636 average) and drove in four runs.

“Coming together as a team and winning the tournament was really significant,” Serr said .

When they weren’t playing, the team toured the country. Stops included the home of Holocaust survivor Anne Frank. The main mode of transportation was bicycle. “Anytime the team wanted to go out we’d ride our bikes everywhere,” Serr said.

Others spent the summer playing closer to home. Tyler Stevenson ’05, Jason Miller ’05, Aaron Fulmer ’06 and Chris Ullom ’04 all played for the Everett Merchants.

Loomis completed his fourth season as manager of the Aloha Knights, based in Portland, Ore. His team qualified for the National Baseball Congress’ World Series, held in August in Omaha, Neb., and ended up winning the national championship with a perfect 7-0 record. Loomis was named the NBC National Manager of the Year.

The Knights and the Merchants are in the Pacific International League, a summer “wood bat” league for collegiate players with 13 teams in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.

Ullom had a good season for the Merchants, hitting .302 with four doubles, three triples and 11 RBI in 26 games. He graduated from PLU in May and plans to start medical school in January. He also had a tryout in September with the San Diego Padres organization.

Stevenson hit .244 in 32 games and Miller had a .220 batting average in 22 games, while Fulmer made nine appearances as a pitcher.

Five other Lutes also saw action with summer teams. David Fox ’06 played for the independent Eugene (Ore.) Blue Sox, while Jeff Caley ’07 played for another independent team, the Mt. Hood Cardinals, also based in Portland. Joe Walling ’05 was a member of the Tacoma Tugs of the Men’s Adult Baseball League, and Joe DiPietro ’07 and Roger Guzman ’07 both played for the Yakima Beatles American Legion team.

All except Ullom will return to the Lute team next spring and try to do even better than last year. The Lutes won 23 games last spring, the second-highest win total in school history. Included were victories over eventual national champion George Fox and Eastern Connecticut State, which was ranked No. 1 in the nation most of the season and finished as the national runner-up.

 

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© Scene 2004  •  Pacific Lutheran University  •  Winter 2004

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