Tuesday, September 26, Corvallis, Ore. – Oregon State University student Connor Heath, the Corvallis Knights…
Corvallis, Oregon, Wednesday, February 10 – The Corvallis Knights and Wenatchee AppleSox are a tradition celebrated each summer, one inning at a time. The two baseball clubs partnered from the very beginning as founding West Coast League members in 2005. From that inaugural summer collegiate season forward they have enjoyed extraordinary success on the field and in their respective communities.
In terms of personifying the two organizations commitment to community, leadership and player development, there are no better Knights and Sox alumni we can think of than Mitch Haniger and Marco Gonzales of the Seattle Mariners.
Mitch & Marco shined brightly in the West Coast League in 2010; Mitch with the Knights, coached by Brooke Knight, and Marco for the WCL champion AppleSox led by skipper Ed Knaggs. Both earned first-team all-WCL honors.
Haniger flashed leather all summer long, primarily in center field. In league play, he hit .299 with 22 walks, 11 stolen bases, 5 triples, 3 home runs and 18 RBIs.
Gonzales, a two-way player, led Wenatchee to a league championship. The southpaw made 8 regular season starts and went 5-1 with a 2.76 ERA while striking out 66 over 52 innings pitched. He collected a save in his one relief appearance. Marco also made two postseason starts, going 1-1 with a 2.91 ERA, striking out 15 over 12.1 innings pitched.
Mitch came to Corvallis following his freshman campaign at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he was named Big West Freshman of the Year. Cal Poly and the Knights are longtime partners, a relationship that got started with former big league pitcher Bud Norris in 2005. Since, Corvallis has featured Mustang stars like ex-MLB third baseman Brent Morel, pitcher Eric Massingham, outfielder Adam Melker, WCL Pitcher of the Year Jared Eskew, pitcher Chase Johnson, outfielder Nick Torres, shortstop Peter Van Gansen, pitcher Casey Bloomquist, pitcher Slater Lee, outfielder Cole Cabrera and shortstop Brooks Lee.
“Hanny arrived with an obvious love for the game. His athletic frame showed promise, and from a tools perspective he could really do it all. After a nagging back injury early in the summer, he really turned it on,” said Corvallis skipper Brooke Knight.
“We were fortunate to be a small part of Mitch’s journey and very much appreciate Cal Poly placing him with the Knights.
“Our partnership with them has most definitely elevated our program,” said Knight. “The mutual trust is something we value greatly. When (head coach) Larry Lee sent his son Brooks to Corvallis it was a proud moment for all of us. Larry believes in our culture, system and focus.”
“Mitch was mature beyond his years,” said Cal Poly head coach Larry Lee. “He was a very-talented high school player that once in college worked extremely hard to better himself in all facets.
“He had a goal of wanting the play at the major league level and developed a clear plan on how to get there. An important component of that was his experience with the Corvallis Knights, where he was able to continue his development as a baseball player and as a person.”
Shortly after his spring season at Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, Colorado, Marco got his first taste of high-level collegiate baseball in Wenatchee. Incredibly, he started Colorado’s 5A state championship game all four of his years at Rocky Mountain and won them all.
Gonzales is one of many Gonzaga University prospects to shine for the AppleSox. Former Wenatchee field manager Ed Knaggs always referred to his Bulldogs as AppleZags. Since the Sox first year in the WCL, Wenatchee has featured Zags stars such as former big league pitchers Clayton Mortensen and Steve Ames, pitcher Brandon Harmon, pitcher Matt Fields, outfielder Royce Bolinger, catcher Maxx Garrett, outfielder Payden Cawley-Lamb, WCL MVP Mitchell Gunsolus, outfielder Brock Slavin, pitcher/outfielder Tyler Frost, current big league first baseman Taylor Jones and current major-league pitcher Brandon Bailey.
“Marco was our first Gonzaga incoming freshman,” said Ed Knaggs. “What stood out was his presence on the mound and how polished he was. His dad Frank (a former high school and current pro coach) had a lot to do with that feel for the game. Marco was just a fierce competitor and advanced in all facets.
“We sure appreciated his summer in Wenatchee. Looking back, it was the beginning of a distinguished career in college baseball.
“Speaking of beginnings, our relationship with Gonzaga got started in 2001 with then GU skipper Steve Hertz. He was my very first phone call as Wenatchee’s coach. I knew that having as many Zags as possible was a recipe for summer success, and it really was. The Sox have benefited greatly from the partnership and they continue to work well together with current head coach Mark Machtolf.”
“Marco Gonzales has always been a great competitor,” said Gonzaga skipper Mark Machtolf. “He was mature beyond his years and a great teammate. We have always been proud of Marco for his baseball accomplishments but more so for his qualities as a young man.
“Gonzaga Baseball’s relationship with the AppleSox and coach Knaggs certainly helped foster Marco’s development. He loved his time there and the experience was crucial to his development as a baseball player.”
Mitch’s Knights and Marco’s Sox faced-off six times in 2010. While Wenatchee would win the league title, knocking off the Bend Elks in the West Coast League Championship Series, Corvallis went 5-1 against the AppleSox that summer.
The Knights swept its home series at Goss Stadium June 29-July 1, and took two of three at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium July 30-August 1. Only twice did both stars appear in the same game as Marco never made a start or relief appearance vs. the Knights. He was the designated hitter in the series opener at Goss, played first base in the series finale in Wenatchee and went 1-for-6 over the two games he appeared.
Haniger started all six games and went 7-for-26 with a double, two triples and 5 RBIs. In the teams’ series opener at Goss Stadium, Mitch made an epic diving catch in center field. It started a late-inning 8-4-3 double play, setting the tone for the series and preserving a 4-2 win.
“I still remember that catch Mitch made. That is still probably the most impressive catch that I’ve seen in a game that I was broadcasting. It was definitely a game changer,” said former Wenatchee AppleSox and current Tri-City Dust Devils broadcaster Chris King.
Six future Major Leaguers played in the series including Knights southpaw Matt Boyd of Oregon State (Detroit) and infielder Matt Duffy of Long Beach State (San Francisco/Tampa Bay); and Wenatchee catcher Trevor Brown of UCLA (San Francisco) and pitcher Zack Weiss of UCLA (Cincinnati). In addition, current hard-hitting NFL safety Jordan Poyer of Oregon State (Buffalo Bills) appeared twice for Corvallis in the series at Goss Stadium.
Two-way Corvallis star Matt Boyd homered and registered the save in the Knights 8-6 series opening win at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium on July 30. Weiss started for the Sox in the series finale in Wenatchee, won by Corvallis 7-5 and powered by Haniger who went 4-for-5 with two runs scored and 2 RBIs.
Other notable alumni that played in the Sox/Knights 2010 regular season match-ups were current Lower Columbia College head coach Eric Lane (shortstop) and Driveline Baseball super staffer Maxx Garrett (catcher) of Wenatchee; and current San Francisco Giants hitting coach Justin Viele (shortstop), UC Santa Barbara assistant coach Dylan Jones (pitcher/utl), Oregon State director of baseball operations Jake Rodriguez (catcher/inf) and Yavapai College assistant coach Miles Kizer (catcher) of Corvallis.
“Our partnership with Wenatchee has been so fruitful in so many ways,” said Knights Baseball Club CEO Dan Segel. “We emulated the AppleSox from the start. No way we make the kind of strides we did in the early years without the support and counsel of AppleSox owner Jim Corcoran and his staff.
“The rivalry and membership in the WCL has been an awesome thing, with so many cool moments and incredible players like Mitch and Marco,” Segel shared with pride. “We really appreciate the efforts of Wenatchee’s current management team. Owner Jose Oglesby and his crew are doing a great job carrying on the Sox tradition.
“We all can’t wait for baseball to return, and for Mitch and Marco to get back on the field. We wish them and the Mariners the best.”
Haniger and Gonzales are both relatively young players at 30 and 28 years old respectively, but they are veterans on a very youthful and talented Seattle Mariners club.
Not only are Mitch and Marco outstanding baseball players, they are genuine role models who are active in their communities and who are always looking to better those around them.
Marco and his wife Monica launched the Gonzales Family Peanut Butter Drive in partnership with Northwest Harvest and the Seattle Mariners in May of last year to help meet demand for nutritious food during the COVID-19 pandemic. Northwest Harvest is the leading hunger relief agency in Washington.
Mitch has been an ambassador for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Also, this past year, he collaborated with MLB and Bank of America on a “wearing it forward” custom t-shirt design to help raise funds for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Haniger is eager to return to play after missing last season. The power-hitting right fielder was an American League All-Star in 2018. Marco had his best MLB season in 2020 and is Seattle’s ace.
“Community and competing with class. That is what the Knights, AppleSox, and the West Coast League are all about,” said AppleSox owner Jose Oglesby. “Marco and Mitch exemplify this to the nth degree.
As a longtime Mariners fan, I can only hope that Marco and Mitch can help guide the M’s back to the playoffs in the near future.”
Mitch & Marco Facts:
*Haniger was selected in the first round (supplemental) of the 2012 MLB draft by the Milwaukee Brewers; Hanny was picked in the 31st round of the 2009 MLB draft by the New York Mets, but chose to enroll at Cal Poly
*Gonzales was picked in the first round of the 2013 MLB draft by the St. Louis Cardinals (19th overall selection); Marco was selected in the 29th round of the 2010 MLB draft by the Colorado Rockies, but chose to enroll at Gonzaga
*Haniger made his MLB debut on August 16, 2016 with the Arizona Diamondbacks
*Gonzales made his MLB debut on June 25, 2014 with the St. Louis Cardinals
*Haniger was named the 2012 Big West Player of the Year
*Gonzales was named the 2011 co-WCC Player of the Year and co-WCC Freshman of the Year with future big leaguer Kris Bryant of University of San Diego; Gonzales was also named the co-WCC Player of the Year in 2013 and was the recipient of the John Olerud Award honoring the top collegiate two-way player
*Marco was named the 2012 WCC Pitcher of the Year
*Haniger was traded by Arizona to Seattle on November 23, 2016
*Gonzales was traded by St. Louis to Seattle on July 21, 2017
*Haniger hit .282 with 16 home runs and 47 RBIs in 96 games in his rookie season of 2017
*Gonzales was named the St. Louis Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year in 2014. That same year, Marco tossed three innings for the Cards both in the NLDS vs. the Dodgers and NLCS vs. the Giants; he picked up two wins in relief in the NLDS including the series clincher
*Haniger earned AL All-Star Game honors in 2018; he hit .272 with 18 home runs and 67 RBIs, tied for the AL lead in outfield assists and finished 11th in AL MVP voting
*Gonzales has been the Seattle Mariners opening day starter the past two seasons, 2019 and 2020
*Haniger missed most of the 2019 season and all of 2020 due to injuries and surgeries
*Gonzales went 7-2 with a 3.11 ERA over 11 starts in a shortened 2020 season; Marco led the AL in walks per nine innings (0.904) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (9.143)
*Haniger’s career totals for batting average, home runs and RBIs are .267, 62 and 189, respectively
*Gonzales career totals for wins/losses, ERA and strikeouts are 41-27, 4.09 and 420, respectively
*Mitch is from Mountain View, California while Marco is from Fort Collins, Colorado
Knights & AppleSox Facts:
*Corvallis plays at OSU’s Goss Stadium while Wenatchee hosts their WCL games at Wenatchee Valley College’s Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium
*The Knights played their first two WCL seasons at Mt. Hood CC’s Oslund Field
*Corvallis skipper Brooke Knight (6) and former Sox head coach Ed Knaggs (4) have been named WCL Coach of the Year a combined 10 times
*Corvallis leads the all-time series between the Knights & Sox, 52-44
*Corvallis leads the WCL in regular season wins with 498; Wenatchee is second at 426
*Five teams have won WCL titles over 15 seasons with Moses Lake (2007), Bellingham (2014) and Bend (2015) with single championships and Corvallis with 7 and Wenatchee with 5
*Wenatchee has repeated as WCL champions twice, 2005 & 2006 and 2009 & 2010
*Corvallis has won four straight WCL titles (2016-2019), are defending WCL champs and are the reigning Perfect Game Summer Collegiate Team of the Year
*Wenatchee and Corvallis have met in the WCL finals 4 times, with the Knights winning in 2008 (2-0) & 2013 (2-0) and the Sox in 2009 (2-0) & 2012 (2-1)
*The AppleSox were owned by Jim Corcoran through 2017; Jose Oglesby is the current owner
*Corvallis Knights president/GM Bre Miller was named the WCL’s first female GM in 2012
*Knights Baseball Club CEO Dan Segel worked with Jim Corcoran to help found the WCL, which was established in 2005; Segel earned WCL Executive of the Year honors in 2007, 2008 & 2009
*Current Chicago Cubs Vice President of Player Development Matt Dorey was the first Corvallis skipper in 2007; Brooke Knight is the longest tenured head coach in the WCL (2008-present)
*Ed Knaggs managed Wenatchee from 2001-2014, winning 6 titles (five WCL and one Pacific International League championship); Knaggs joined up with Corvallis in 2018 and is currently the Knights associate head coach Current Yakima Valley CC head coach Kyle Krustangel managed the AppleSox from 2016-2019; Krustangel replaced AJ Proszek who filled Ed Knaggs shoes for the 2015 season. Krustangel is now with the Yakima Valley Pippins and current Lower Columbia pitching coach Ian Sanderson is set to skipper Wenatchee in 2021
*Former Mt. Hood CC head coach Dale Stebbins managed the Knights in 2005 & 2006
*Twenty-Four Knights alumni have appeared in Major League Baseball; Seventeen Wenatchee alumni have appeared in MLB
*Corvallis has appeared in the WCL postseason for 13 consecutive years (2007-2019) and have made 11 WCL Championship Series appearances; Wenatchee made 9 straight appearances in the playoffs (2005-2013) and have appeared 10 times in the WCL postseason & 7 times in the league’s championship series
*Corvallis has been the recipient of the Jim Dietz Team Sportsmanship Award twice, and Wenatchee once
*Wenatchee has featured three WCL MVPs, and Corvallis two
*Corvallis has featured five WCL Pitchers of the Year, and Wenatchee two
*Wenatchee’s highest alumnus MLB draft pick was Keston Hiura of UC Irvine, who was selected #9 overall in 2017
*Corvallis’ highest alumnus MLB draft pick was Adley Rutschman of Oregon State, who was selected #1 overall in 2019
Big Games & Moments in the AppleSox/Knights Rivalry:
>Future big leaguer Drew Rasmussen of Wenatchee tosses 6 no-hit innings at Goss Stadium on June 29, 2014 before Marc Gallegos of Corvallis breaks up the right-hander’s no-hit bid with a lead-off single in the seventh; Rasmussen earns the 5-4 win and allows only one hit over 6.1 IP. Drew would throw a perfect game the next year for Oregon State vs. Washington State and his battery mate on that historic afternoon was longtime Knights utility man Dane Lund (2011-2014)
>AppleSox hit a walk-off homer at Goss Stadium on August 3, 2017 as the AppleSox were the home team in a rescheduled double-header hosted by Corvallis because of smoked out games in Wenatchee; Jake Taylor of Seattle University hit the surreal three-run walk-off blast
>Wenatchee sweeps the Knights in a doubleheader at Mt. Hood CC on the last day of the 2006 West Coast Collegiate Baseball League regular season to earn a championship series berth; future big leaguers Tommy Milone of USC and Clay Mortensen of Gonzaga pitch the Sox to the sweep. Milone tossed a 7-inning complete game in the Sox 3-1 game one win and Mortensen sent Wenatchee to the postseason with a 9-inning complete game victory in game two, as the Sox edged the Knights 2-1 with Milone delivering a game-winning sacrifice fly (breaking a 1-1 tie in the fourth inning). The Knights led Wenatchee by one game going into the season’s final day, needing just one win to advance to the postseason. The AppleSox had other plans and rode their future MLB arms to a match with the Spokane Riverhawks, who they would beat to repeat as WCCBL champs
>Jorge Perez of Grand Canyon tosses a two-hit shutout in the 2013 West Coast League Championship Series finale at Goss Stadium; Knights dogpile in the daylight as Corvallis edges Wenatchee 1-0 in the shortest playoff game in WCL history at 1 hr, 28 minutes. Trevor Lubking of PLU was equally masterful allowing only two hits, one a double to Blake Drake of Concordia who scored on a game-winning sacrifice fly by Dane Lund of Oregon State
>Wenatchee upsets the Knights in the 2009 WCLCS, sweeping Corvallis who had posted the league’s top record at 38-10; AppleSox dogpile at OSU’s Goss Stadium, the only time a visitor has won a championship clinching game at Goss in Knights history. Sox closer Paris Shewey of Washington State earned high-pressure saves in both WCLCS contests
>Knights slip by Sox at Wenatchee in the 2008 WCCBL Championship Series opener in an extra-inning thriller in which left fielder John Wallace of Oregon State came up with a huge outfield assist in the bottom of the tenth and then delivered a RBI double in the eleventh inning to knock-in an insurance run; Bryant Kraus of University of Portland delivers the game-winning RBI single propelling Corvallis to the 6-4 win. The Knights closed out the series a night later at Goss behind a stellar start from future big leaguer Josh Osich of Oregon State who tossed 8 innings of one-run baseball while striking out 6 in the Knights 4-1 clinching victory
>Wenatchee swept the Knights July 29-31, 2005 at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium; future University of Washington pitching coach Elliott Cribby of UW started and won the opener while future Gonzaga pitching coach Brandon Harmon of GU started and won the series finale besting future big leaguers Matt Hague of Washington and Bud Norris of Cal Poly, who both appeared for the Knights in what was their West Coast Collegiate Baseball League season-ending contest. Wenatchee captured the inaugural WCCBL title that summer, while the Knights opted out of the postseason as part of a commitment to return to the NBC World Series as defending champions