Summer team a ball for players

Major Leaguers are often called the “boys of summer,” but these guys are the real deal.

Instead of taking a few months off to recoup from studies and school sports, 23 local high school-aged ballplayers are hitting the dusty diamonds this June and July as part of the Sequim Baseball U-18 ball club.

Spawned by head coach Dan Perry in 2000, this summer league team travels (or hosts) games and/or tournaments each weekend for a two-month stretch, hitting fields across the greater Puget Sound area.

For some players, it’s a chance to extend the high school season that ends in May, while others are playing with varsity-level players for the first time.

For Jonathan Thom, a Sequim High senior and all-league third baseman, this summer marks his fourth season with Sequim Baseball.

“When I started playing … it was a way to prove myself to coach D (assistant Dave Ditlefsen, the high school coach),” Thom said. “I like baseball and you get to play so much.”

Often that play comes at the handicap of playing older, tougher club teams. In Sequim’s first game on June 11, Sequim’s roster of mostly sophomore-aged players (average age: 16.2 years) took on a Kitsap squad of 17- and 18-year-olds. Sequim led early before falling 13-6, and that after missing six of the regular players.

“We’re not usually as good; we’re playing over our heads,” Thom says. “But that’s good. We improve way more (than other teams).”

Thom and fellow senior Max Royall get a chance to play another year with teammates before deciding on college or other career paths. Thom says it’s nice to keep playing after a disappointing loss to Kingston that ended the Wolves’ season.

Spencer Middleton, a pitcher and first baseman for Sequim Baseball, has two-and-a-half seasons playing for the summer club under his belt.

“It’s just something different, it’s not as competitive,” Middleton says. “We have fun, travel on the bus and (get) away from the whole school sports thing.”

For freshmen, Middleton notes, the summer league team is a good transition into playing varsity-level baseball. For others, it helps keep players sharp for the next spring season.

The team, combined with Perry’s batting cages in downtown Sequim, helps Sequim ballplayers hone their skills during the offseason, Middleton says.

Perry, who started coaching in 1989 with the Junior Babe Ruth program, was an assistant coach and head coach at Sequim High until 2006.

Assistants include Ditlefsen, Sequim High School’s varsity head coach since 2005 and newly-hired athletic director; Kevin Royall, a coach from California who began coaching in 2006 with SHS’s junior varsity squad; plus assistants Buddy Bear, Bill McFarlen and Joe Ignagni.

The summer club’s sponsors include Olympic Ambulance that funds about 40 percent of the team budget.

Sequim Baseball players and staff raise the other 60 percent through various fundraisers

On June 7, the club raised $5,200 at its annual auction at John Wayne Marina.

Sequim Senior Baseball — 2008 schedule

Date Opponent Location Time

June 11 Post 24 Silverdale TBA

June 15 Wilder’s Jr.* Sequim 1 p.m.

June 21 Wilder’s Jr.* Port Angeles 1 p.m.

June 27-29 Wood bat tourney Tacoma TTC TBA

July 3-6 Firecracker tourney Port Angeles TBA

July 10/12/13 Gig Harbor Gig Harbor TBA

July 15 Bainbridge Island Sequim 5 p.m.

July 18-20 Puyallup Puyallup TBA

July 23 Bainbridge Island Bainbridge Island 5 p.m.

July 25-27 Wood bat tourney Tacoma TTC TBA

July 31 South Kitsap U-17 Sequim 5 p.m.

* — doubleheader

Sequim Senior Baseball— roster

Players: Jason Baker, Matt Bereiter, Mike Bereiter, Jared Forshaw, Matt Holloway, Ryan Hueter, Anthony Ignagni, Phillip Lepper, Taylor Lepper, Preston McFarlen, Spencer Middleton, Chris O’Bryant, Jeremie Oliver, Ben Omdal, Reed Omdal, Drew Rickerson, Matt Rief, Max Royall, Weston Royall, Jonathan Thom, Trevor Swanson, Travis Smith, Isaac Yamamoto

Coaches: Dan Perry, Dave Ditlefsen, Kevin Royall, Buddy Bear, Bill McFarlen, Joe Ignagni

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