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Knights Daily Update

Your Monday Knights' update

February 14, 2011

We're back after a weekend that proved to be pretty newsworthy for the Corvallis Knights.

First, our manager, Brooke Knight, directed the Perth Heat to the Australian Baseball League championship on Sunday in Perth (Saturday night here in the states). The Heat rallied from an opening-game loss to defeat Adelaide 2-1 in the best-of-3 championship series.

The story is already up in the news section of our website, with the appropriate links.

So, congrats to coach Knight and former Knights pitcher Liam Baron, who played for the Heat.

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Some of our 2011 players on Division II, Division III and junior-college clubs have already started their respective seasons.

Here's an update after two weekends of play:

CAL POLY: Infieder Jimmy Allen doubled, singled and had three RBIs for the Mustangs in a 14-5 win in their alumni game. Former Knights Mitch Haniger (2010) doubled and D.J. Gentile (2009) had two hits for the varsity, and Brent Morel (2006-07) homered for the alumni.

CONCORDIA: Infielder Sean Myrom is hitting .364, with two homers and six RBIs, for the Cavaliers. Ex-Knight Tommy Whalen (2009) is hitting .400, with a homer and six RBIs.

FEATHER RIVER: Outfielder Dayton Alexander is hitting .345, with two homers and two RBIs.

RIVERSIDE CC: Infielder Nic Cuckovich is hitting .444 (4-9) with six RBIs and five runs. Pitcher Kyle McNutt is 0-0, 4.50.

PACIFIC LUTHERAN: Pitcher Max Beatty is 1-0, 0.00 in his lone start. Infielder Corey Moore is hitting .400, with two RBIs.

REDLANDS: Pitcher Kyle Hart is 0-0, 1.80.

WESTERN OREGON: Infielder Griffin Boyd is hitting .194, with two RBIs. Ex-Knights Daniel Dillard (2010) is hitting .258, with a homer and six RBIs, and catcher Miles Kizer (2010) is hitting .176, with two RBIs.

BARRY UNIVERSITY: Ex-Knight Dean Green (2008) is hitting .321, with two homers and eight RBIs.

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The West Coast League may be looking to expand to New Westminster, British Columbia, for the 2012 season, according to this story in the New Westminster News Leader.

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Our friends the Wenatchee AppleSox are asking their fans to pick their caps for the 2011 season. Here's a story, with photos of the three caps in the competition.

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Only 109 days until our June 3 opener at Walla Walla, and 113 days until our June 7 opener against the Klamath Falls Gems.

That's enough for now. We have a few items we kept in the bullpen for Tuesday.


Schwartz back in Corvallis

February 11, 2011

Another week down, another five days closer to Opening Night V, set for June 3 at historic Borleske Stadium in Walla Walla, Wash., against the Sweets. The countdown's at 112 days to Walla Walla and 116 until our home opener, June 7 against the Klamath Falls Gems.

Here's a few Knights/West Coast League notes of note to start your weekend off right:

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Former Knights No. 2 radio broadcaster Jason Schwartz, now doing play-by-play for the USC women's basketball team on USCTrojans.com, was Corvallis on Thursday for the Women of Troy's game at Oregon State.

We're happy to report that Schwartz - who this summer will be the play-by-play man for the Tri-City Dust Devils in the Northwest League, his first gig in affiliated baseball - was thrilled to be back in town, and stopped by OSU's practice to chat with Matt Boyd, Jake Rodriguez and Dylan Jones, who each played for the Knights last summer.

He also reconnected with his host family, Tom Loveday and Peggy Duncan, reinforcing the importance/significance of that unique aspect of summer league baseball that's been enthusiastically embraced by the Knights and our community.

He'll be back in our neck of the woods in June, when the Dust Devils start their season.

Jason's hiring was also mentioned in this story by Jack Millikin of the Tri-City Herald, the paper's Dust Devils beat writer.

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Those of you who receive our e-newsletter or read the Corvallis Gazette-Times know the Knights are looking for candidates to sing the "Star-Spangled Banner" before home games, and for candidates 18 years of age and older who wish to be our mascot, Mack the Knight this summer.

If you're interested in either, wish to receive our e-newsletter, or just have a question in general about the Knights, simply e-mail me at brooks.hatch@corvallisknights.com and we'll do our best to help.

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Some news from around the WCL:

The Walla Walla Sweets have signed Niagara University freshmen righthanded pitchers Drew Fittry and Geoff Soja for the upcoming season.

Fittry is a 6-foot, 1-inch, 170-pounder from the Buffalo suburb of Tonawanda, N.Y., who was 6-1 with an ERA of 0.76 as a senior at St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute in 2010. He was named 2010 St. Joe's Pitcher of the Year and a first-team Catholic Team all-star, and honorable-mention all-Western New York.

Soja is a 6-foot, 3-inch, 210-pounder out of Fairport High School in the Rochester suburb of Fairport N.Y. He was a three-time all-Monroe County selection and was selected to the Section V Exceptional Senior Game as a senior.

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The Sweets have also signed Boston University graduate student Tristan Hobbes as their play-by-play radio broadcaster. A Utica, N.Y., native, he graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2009 and will graduate from BU this May with a Masters degree in broadcast journalism.

Hobbes comes to the Sweets with a wealth of broadcasting and media relations experience. Read all about him here.


Joe Beaver Road Show at the WWHQ on May 18

February 9, 2011

All this sunshine in Corvallis has us down here at the WWHQ oiling up our gloves and swinging the bats stored in the back storeroom in anticipation of the upcoming season, which now is (drumroll here for the daily countdown) only 114 days away.

We've got some news to whet your appetite for Knights baseball (BTW, home opener in 118 days, against Klamath Falls on June 7). The popular Joe Beaver Talk Show on KEJO (1240 AM) will do a remote broadcast from the WWHQ from noon until 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 18.

The show is hosted by Knights' play-by-play announcer Mike Parker and co-host Jon Warren. There will be prize drawings, food coupons, and our new nifty Nike team merchandise, which is arriving daily, will be available for purchase. We might even have clearance prices on our old merchandise, which is also quality stuff.

The WWHQ is located in the Madison Plaza building, on the corner of 4th Street and Madison Avenue, just down the hallway from Starbucks Coffee and Noah's Bagels, smack-dab in the heart of downtown Corvallis. So mark it on your calendars and make sure to stop by!

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Around the WCL:

Pepperdine pitchers Matt Maurer and Ricky Villareal have signed with the Cowlitz Black Bears.

Maurer is a 6-foot-3, 220-pound freshman lefthander from Medford. He was the Gatorade and Louisville Slugger Player of the Year for North Medford High School.

Villareal is a redshirt sophomore righthander from Edinburg High in Edinburg, Texas. He was 1-1 with a 3.95 ERA in 13 games for Pepperdine in 2010.

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The Klamath Falls Gems Gems have hired Klamath Falls native Michael D'Olivo as their Marketing and Promotions intern. He is a junior at Oregon, majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Sports Marketing.

His responsibilities will include putting together each game's script; updating promotional information, and helping to assure the Gems can provide a great show every night for their fans. He will also be responsible for arranging player and mascot appearances during the summer.


Ex-Knight Grant Glover honored

February 8, 2011

Early start for the blog today. The boss, Knights president Dan Segel, is back in town after spending three weeks in sunny, hot Australia (nice work if you can get it, huh?) working for the Major League Baseball and the Perth HEAT, and we want to make sure he knows we've been on the ball while he's been gone.

So here's a few early notes, with updates possible later today:

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Former Knights infielder Grant Glover, a senior at Western Oregon University, shared Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Week honors for the week of Jan. 31-Feb. 6 with a teammate after his outstanding performance in a four-game series against No. 1 UC San Diego.

Glover hit .429 and figured in five of the Wolves' 11 runs, as he scored four times and drove in another. The senior second baseman from McMinnville had six hits in 14 at-bats; he hit safely in the three nine-inning games, but went 0-for-2 in the seven-inning contest to snap his GNAC record 32-game hitting streak.

Here's the complete release on Glover's selection from WOU.

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Several other players with Knights' connections played in that series for the Wolves.

Outfielder Daniel Dillard (2010) was 2-for-13, with two RBIs; catcher Miles Kizer (2010), formerly of the University of Washington, was 2-for-15 with two RBIs, and infielder Griffin Boyd (2010, 2011) was 4-for-16 with two RBIs and a three-hit game.

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The 2009-2010 WCL-champion Wenatchee AppleSox have added four players from Gonzaga University to their 2011 roster.

They are outfielder Payden Cawley Lamb, righthanded pitchers David Bigelow and Aaron Brooks, and infielder Thomas Henderson.

Cawley Lamb is a freshman from Buckley, Wash., who was first-team all-state his senior year at White River High School.

A freshman from Fox Island, Wash., Bigelow was second-team all-state and a Tacoma News Tribune all-area honoree was a senior at Gig Harbor High School, where he was a teammate of Knights pitcher and Oregon State freshman Scott Schultz.

Brooks is a freshman from Mountlake Terrace, Wash., who was all-state and led Mountlake Terrace High School to the quarterfinals of the 2010 4A state tournament.

Henderson is entering his first year at Gonzaga after transferring from Columbia Basin College. The junior from Kennewick, Wash., was a first-team All-Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges all-star, and the NWAACC West Division Gold Glove winner in 2010.

The AppleSox open their season on June 3 with a three-game home series against the Kitsap BlueJackets. They host the Knights on June 20-22, and visit Goss Stadium on June 30-July 2.


More honors for Andrew Susac

February 7, 2011

Welcome back to the Corvallis Knights blog.

We had a great time meeting many of our Linn County fans over at the Linn County Spring Home Show at the fairgrounds this past weekend. We're sure the Knights' caps and Big League Chew distributed to winners of BiCoastal Media's "Wheel of Fortune" game are as popular on the east side of the Willamette River as they are over here at the WWHQ on the west bank.

Even though the rain returned to the Valley today, that can't dampen our enthusiasm for the upcoming season, our fifth in Corvallis. Football season is finally over, and it's only 116 more days until our June 3 opener at Walla Walla, and 120 more days until our June 7 home opener against the Klamath Falls Gems.

And while it's only February, we have some news and notes concerning past and futgure Knights we'd like to share, so here goes:

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Ex-Knights catcher Andrew Susac (2009), an Oregon State sophomore, was named a second-team preseason All-American by Baseball America magazine last week. He's a draft-eligible sophomore at Oregon State.

Susac batted .260 in 2010 for the Beavers, with two homers and 13 RBIs. This past summer he was named the No. 5 prospect in the Cape Cod League by Baseball America, and last week he was also named the sixth-best sophomore in the country, and the second-best draft-eligible sophomore, by Baseball America.

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Oregon junior left-handed pitcher Tyler Anderson, a Knight briefly during the 2009 season, was named a third-team preseason All-American by Baseball America. It's the fourth pre-season honor for the Las Vegas native.

Anderson joined the 2009 Knights in midseason and was 0-0, 3.86 in five games before being shut down for the summer. He was 7-5, 2.98 ERA for UO in 2010, with a school-record 105 strikeouts.

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Learn more about ex-Knights infielder/catcher Jake Rodriguez, a freshman at OSU, in this profile by OSU baseball Sports Information Director Hank Hager.

Our man Hank also tells you more about 2011 Knights pitcher Ben Wetzler in this profile piece.


ChiSox coach has doubts about Morel

February 4, 2011

Another day on the Knights' blog, which by now you've bookmarked as the place to go for news about our team, and from around the West Coast League.

Today's top item is this nugget on ex-Knights infielder Brent Morel (2006-07) from MLB Rumors on MLBnewsonline.com.

Here's the story, written by MLB.com correspondent Greg Fieg.

"White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker continues to have doubts about 23-year-old prospect Brent Morel's readiness to win the starting third baseman's job out of spring training.

Returning to his Chicago home from a three-week workout of various players in Florida and California, Walker told ESPN Radio 1000 that Morel, who hails from Bakersfield, has ability around the bag but has "some misses" when he hits because he "comes up out of his swing."

"He's always hit," Walker said of the former Cal-Poly standout. "The thing we have to be careful about is his swing. Does he have some holes in there that pitchers can exploit?"

After the White Sox took Morel in the first round of the 2008 draft, he hit .326 at Double A Birmingham, then .300 in 60 games for Triple A Charlotte, where his defensive play reminded observers of former White Sox third baseman Joe Crede.

In a brief September call up, Morel hit a home run (for his first big-league hit), though he struggled overall.

"I think he's going to be ready to go," said Walker, but hinted that he may have to hold off journeyman Mark Teahen if Morel expects to win the starting third baseman's job on opening day."

Morel played in 21 games, started Chicago's final 17 games, and hit .231, with three homers and seven RBIs in 65 at-bats. He did strike out 17 times, however.

Morel is the first Corvallis Knight to play in the majors.

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We have more upbeat news on the Braves' pitcher Tommy Hanson, one of three pitchers from the old Aloha Knights to pitch in the majors (the others are Bud Norris of the Astros and Marc Rzepczynski of the Blue Jays).

This snippet from NCS Sports Hardball Talk indicated Hanson - 10-11, 3.33 with 175 strikeouts in 34 games in 2010 - might be ready for a monster third season in MLB.

Don't let the overgrown offseason beard fool you. Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson has been working hard this offseason, taking advantage of some new resources available to him.

Hanson spent the winter in Southern California working out at the Boras Sports Training Institute with a team of trainers, Hanson said Monday morning on the first day of the Braves' pre-spring pitching camp that he's gained 10 pounds of muscle.

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News from around the WCL:

Congrats are in order to the Wenatchee AppleSox, who earned an achievement award at the recent Northwest Baseball Coaches Convention in Portland for their 2010 WCL championship. The award was presented to AppleSox coach Ed Knaggs at the convention's "Walk of Champions" luncheon.

"It's always nice to be recognized. The award is a reflection on the whole AppleSox organization from our owners, players, coaches, fans, and host families," Knaggs said.

AppleSox pitching coach Rob Hippi was a featured speaker at the convention, held at the Embassy Suites at Portland International Airport.

The convention is an annual gathering of baseball coaches from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Over 400 coaches attend the event representing high school, college, and summer collegiate programs. Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge was a special guest and spoke at the luncheon.

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Finally, it wouldn't be a blog without our obligatory opening-night countdown: 119 days until our June 3 opener at Walla Walla, and 123 days until our June 7 home opener against Klamath Falls at Goss Stadium.


Knights at the Linn County Spring Home Show

February 3, 2011

Just a reminder: representatives of the Knights will be at the Linn County Spring Home Show at the Willamette Events Center at the Linn County Fairgrounds this Friday-Sunday. We'll be sharing a booth with KRKT radio, so stop by, say hello and maybe pick up some swag if we have some.

And reminder No. 2, only 120 days until our June 3 opening night at Walla Walla, and 124 until our home opener, June 7 against Klamath Falls at Goss Stadium.

We should have pocket schedules available shortly. The schedule is also available at Corvallisknights.com.

A few Knights-related notes:

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Former Knights' catcher Andrew Susac (2009) of Oregon State is ranked the No. 6 sophomore in the country by Baseball America, which released its annual rankings of the top 50 players by class on Wednesday.

A graduate of Jesuit High in Roseville, Calif., Susac is also ranked as the No. 2 draft-eligible sophomore, behind left-handed pitcher Matthew Purke of TCU.

Susac was selected by Philadelphia in the 16th round of the 2009 MLB draft, but elected to play with the Knights and OSU instead of signing. He struggled in his first exposure to college-level pitching and hit .208, with two homers and 13 RBIs, in 33 games for the Knights, but has obviously progressed, as he was a Cape Cod League all-star last summer.

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Former Knights' lefty Daniel Bibona (2007), who earned five All-American citations, and was a two-time Big West Pitcher of the Year during his career at UC Irvine, was recently named the Lowes Senior CLASS Award winner. Voting is done by Division I baseball coaches, national media and fans; the award honors the most outstanding senior student-athlete in NCAA Division I baseball.

Bibona graduated in 2010 with a 3.25 GPA in sociology. He was the 2010 Big West Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year. A signee with the St. Louis Cardinals, he is a regular visitor at the Childrens Hospital of Orange County, and coaches youth baseball, Bibona is a member of a non-profit organization called American Home Dream, which assists children with terminal illnesses.

He was 2-2, 2.29 in 11 appearances for the Knights in 2007 and has subsequently credited former Knights pitching coach Trent Baysinger for helping him develop the changeup that made him so effective.

Bibona was 4-0, 191, in eight games with Quad Cities in the Midwest League after signing.

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Yesterday we ran down the whereabouts of some former Knights still in affiliated baseball. Turns out we've located a few more who are played independent baseball last year, and who are on rosters for this season as well.

Pitcher Ryan Platt, a second-team WCL all-star on the 2008 championship team, is on the roster of the Traverse City (Mich.) Beach Bums in the Frontier League.

Pitcher Trey Watt, who played briefly for the 2007 Knights, is also in the Frontier League, with the Windy City Thunderbirds.

And pitcher Brad Reid, a starter on the 2007 club, played with the Oakland County Cruisers in the Frontier League in 2010. We can't find him on a 2011 roster yet.


Knights pro baseball update

February 2, 2011

Spring training doesn't start until later this month and our opening day (June 3 at Walla Walla) is still 121 days down the road, but many Corvallis Knights alumni in affiliated baseball are getting ready to report to camp and discover where they'll play this season.

Most 2011 rosters haven't been set, obviously. But here's a quick rundown of where our alums played during the 2010 season.

MAJOR LEAGUES: Brent Morel (2007), Chicago White Sox.

TRIPLE-A: Jon Berger (2008), Portland (Padres).

DOUBLE-A: None.

SINGLE-A: Nick Akins (2007), Ogden (Dodgers); Jon Berger (2008), Lake Elsinore (Giants); Alex Burg (2008), Augusta (Giants); Rocky Gale (2007, 2009), Eugene (Padres); Drew Garcia (2007), Winston-Salem (White Sox); D.J. Johnson (2009), Gulf Coast League Rays (Rays); Blake Keitzman (2007), Casper (Rockies); Adam Melker, (2008-09), Batavia (Cardinals); Eric Massingham (2007), Lakewood (Phillies); Jim Murphy (2007), Clearwater (Phillies); Nick Struck (2009), Peoria (Cubs); Daniel Bibona, Quad Cities (Cardinals), and Matt Way (2007), Lakewood (Phillies).

Jared Eskew (2008), with the Marlins, missed the season after undergoing arm surgery. Greg Peavey (2007) signed with the Mets late and didn't play minor-league ball last summer.

Of course, alums from when the franchise was based in the Portland area Tommy Hanson (Braves), Bud Norris (Astros), Bobby Scales (Cubs), Mart Rzepczynski (Blue Jays) and Chris Stewart (Padres) spent all or part of 2010 in the major leagues.

And Daniel Turpen (Yankees) begins the 2011 season on the major-league roster after being taken from the Red Sox in the Rule 5 draft.

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News from elsewhere in the West Coast League:

Second-year Walla Walla Community College baseball coach Dave Meliah will be an assistant coach for the Walla Walla Sweets this summer.

He joins second-year manager J.C. Biagi and second-year pitching coach Mark Michaud on the Sweets' staff.

Meliah grew up in Walla Walla, helped DeSales Catholic High School win three state championshiops, and then played infield at Walla Walla Community College and the University of San Francisco. He was a first-team NWAACC Eastern Divison all-star at Walla Walla, and a West Coast Conference all-star at USF.

He was drafted in the 17th round by Texas in 1998 and played six years in their minor-league system, the final three at triple-A Oklahoma City. He retired in 2003, returned to Walla Walla, and started his coaching career as an assistant at WWCC.

His wife, Jill, is the girls basketball coach at Walla Walla High School. They have a daughter, Emily.


Knight-coached Perth advances to ABL Championship Series

February 1, 2011

Ok, so the weather today might be more appropriate for the NHL's annual Winter Classic than for a West Coast League baseball game.

But the sun's out, and that's a great reminder that warmer weather and more hours of daylight are on the way. It's only 122 more days until our June 3 opener at Walla Walla against the Sweets.

And that means only 126 more days until our home opener at Goss Stadium against the Klamath Falls Gems.

Now, onto other things:

You may have read about this on the Knights e-newsletter that went out this week. If not, here's some news about the Perth Heat of the Australia Baseball League, who are coached by Knights' skipper Brooke Knight.

The Heat defeated the host Sydney Blue Sox 4-2 and 6-0 to sweep the best-of-3 opening-round series. Perth thus advanced to the Delta Air Lines ABL Championship Series, set for Feb. 11-13, where it will play either Sydney or Adelaide, who meet this week in a loser-outg series for the right to play Perth for the title.

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We missed this last year, but it's never too late to report some good news.

Former Knights shortstop Richie Jimenez (2008-2009), the 2009 West Coast League Player of the Year and one of the most popular players in Corvallis Knights history, was named a first-team Mountain West Conference academic all-star for 2010.

A senior this season, Jimenez had a 3.35 GPA in physical education. He started 57 games in 2010 and hit .259, with no homers and 27 RBIs, in his first year with the Rebels after transferring from Riverside CC.

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The Knights have enjoyed a great relationship with Cal Poly over the years and several future and former Knights figure prominently in the Mustangs' plans for the 2011 season. They started practice on Friday.

Mitch Haniger, the 2010 Big West Conference Freshman of the Year and a top player for the Knights last summer, is their projected starting right fielder.

He hit .326, with 15 doubles, seven home runs and 46 RBIs, for Cal Poly in 2010 and did not make an error, not surprising for anyone who remembers his fantastic catch in deep center field against Wenatchee last summer, one of the greatest I've seen in more than 20 years of covering baseball at Goss Stadium/Coleman Field.

Former Knight D.J. Gentile (2009) is projected to start at DH, and freshman pitcher Chase Johnson, a 2011 Knight-to-be, could contend for a spot in the starting rotation.

Future 2011 Knights Jimmy Allen and David Armendariz will battle for playing time in the infield.


Monday Knights, WCL update

January 31, 2011

Representatives of the Knights will attend the Linn County Spring Home Show at the Linn County Expo Center this Friday-Sunday. We'll have all the info/ticket applications you residents of Linn County - and anyone else who attends - need for the 2011 season.

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Pretty slim pickings for the Knights and the WCL news on a Monday, but we always try to come up with something and here's an item from Bellingham.

The Bells have signed three plazyers from UCLA, the 2010 NCAA runner-up. They are sophomore outfielder Jeff Gelalich, freshman infielder Pat Gallagher and redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher Ryan Deeter.

Gelalich hit .321, with two homers, 13 RBIs and seven steals for UCLA as a freshman.

Gallagher was Nevada's All-North 4A Player of the Year as a senior at Reno High School ands was first-team all-state. He hit .505 with 18 home runs, 12 doubles, 56 RBIs, and 46 runs, and was a Baseball America prep All-American.

Deeter redshirted in 2010 at UCLA and then played with the Holyoke (Mass.) Blue Sox of the New England Collegiate League during the summer. He had two saves, 17 strikeouts and a 1.93 ERA in 23.1 innings.