There’s a reason — or reasons, rather — that the Pippins lead the West Coast League’s East Division by a 4 1/2-games. And five of them were chosen Tuesday to play in the league’s all-star game next Monday in Klamath Falls, Ore.
Vince Fernandez, an outfielder and newly-minted WCL player of the week, will lead a Yakima Valley contingent that includes pitchers Brandon Williams and Eli Morgan, outfielder-catcher Jake Roberts and first baseman Shawn Wardian for the league’s annual showcase.
Williams will be a senior next year at Central Washington University, having been named the GNAC’s pitcher of the year as a junior, and Wardian is a former Yakima Valley Community College performer who last season played for American Institute of Business in Des Moines, Iowa.
One of YV’s aces, Williams is 4-2 with a 2.95 ERA through a team-high 39 2/3 innings. Morgan, an 18-year-old who graduated from high school in Palos Verdes, Calif., on the Pippins’ opening night, is 5-0 with a 2.76 ERA and has the most victories of any undefeated pitcher in the league.
Fernandez, who got only nine at bats last spring for UC Riverside, is leading the league in hitting at .394 while being tied for fourth in homers (four) and third in RBI (28). He’ll also represent the Pippins in a home run hitting contest prior to the all-star game.
Roberts, a rarity who excels as both a catcher and center fielder, has been YV’s leadoff hitter much of this season and carries a .359 average and has scored a team-best 21 runs. Defensively, he’s committed just three errors through his first 26 games.
And Wardian, who’s played mostly at first base, is hitting .315 with 15 RBI and a team-leading 21 walks. He recently compiled a 14-game hitting streak, the WCL’s longest this season.
The three-division league has been divided into North and South teams, with Ed Knaggs of the Wenatchee AppleSox serving as manager of the North squad while Klamath Falls’ Mitch Karraker will lead the South.
The home run derby is scheduled for Klamath Falls’ Kiger Stadium starting at 5:10 p.m. with the game to follow at 6:35.
The Pippins, 21-11 in their inaugural WCL season, conclude a three-game series at Medford tonight before returning to Yakima County Stadium on Wednesday night to meet the Thurston County Senators in nonleague play before resuming league action Thursday night at home against the Wenatchee AppleSox.