Sports

WCCBL expands to Moses Lake

If growth is generally considered a positive sign, then the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League is doing just fine.

The WCCBL, which includes the Kitsap BlueJackets, announced last week that it will add Moses Lake to its league roster, bringing the WCCBL to eight teams.

Kitsap manager Matt Acker and co-owner Rick Smith both said the expansion is the most positive sign that could be bestowed on the league.

“I think it’s great,” Acker said. “It’s been a great league and it’s nice to have more teams in it.”

The WCCBL, which celebrated its inaugural season last summer, now includes Kitsap, Moses Lake, Aloha (Ore.), Wenatchee, Bellingham, Bend (Ore.), Spokane and Kelwona (British Columbia).

“It’s good for college baseball in the northwest,” Acker said. “It’s good for baseball in general in the northwest.”

Acker said because the WCCBL is not easy to get into, it makes a clear statement about the commitment of the Moses Lake Pirates, led by husband-and-wife owner duo Brent and Amy Kirwan.

“They don’t make it very easy to be a part of this league,” Acker said. “People are not going to do things at half effort when they come into the league. It’s great.”

As a testament to that, Smith said the league gave Moses Lake up to two years to get everything ready in terms of gathering community support, finances and making necessary player arrangements.

But the Pirates were a step ahead, joining the league this season.

Brent Kirwan said in an e-mail that he’s extremely excited to be a part of the league. The Moses Lake expansion was unanimously approved at the WCCBL’s Dec. 5 meeting.

“My family feels very blessed to be finally fulfilling this dream,” Brent Kirwan said. “We’ve been working for years to bring the highest caliber of baseball to Moses Lake and it was great to get the call that we were approved.”

Moses Lake, although much smaller than Silverdale and Kitsap County, found itself in a similar position to the BlueJackets when Kitsap finally got approved.

“They got their stuff together in a hurry,” Smith said. “It’s very much like the community here, just smaller.”

With strong facilities already in place, Brent Kirwan said his reasons for going after a Moses Lake club almost mirror Kitsap’s.

“We believe that community support will be the key to a successful first year,” said Brent Kirwan. “From the sponsors who make it all possible, to the fans in the stands. Every single person in the community will help us make sure WCCBL baseball stays in Moses Lake.”

In addition to improving the quality of play in the league and opening more roster spots for WCCBL hopefuls, Acker said players in the league, particularly those from the east coast, will get an even better experience than they did a year ago.

“There’s a lot those kids are going to see,” Acker said, citing the varying geographies the league encompasses. “They’ll go from super hot to some major scenery, like up in Kelwona. Some of the kids are going to be flattened by some of the places we play.”

To a degree, the BlueJackets have expanded themselves as well. Acker said the Tacoma “feeder” team that had been talked about is finally complete, with most everything ironed out but the roster.

The Tacoma Cardinals will compete with WCCBL teams, Portland City League teams and Pacific International League teams while acting as a feeder team for the Kitsap club. Players will get the opportunity through performance to advance to the parent Kitsap club.

The PIL has also expanded this offseason, growing to seven teams. Many of the WCCBL teams defected from the PIL.

Acker said 10 roster spots are full for the Cardinals, but added the rest will be filled later in January. He said the club wants to better estimate its costs before over-committing itself.

“We had a lot of response,” Acker said. “It’s great. It’s great for the Kitsap BlueJackets and it’s great for community collegiate baseball, especially for area and community colleges. When the kids see the scheduled competition, they’re going to be very excited.”

The club also gives area players (Acker has said the team will mostly be composed of Green River and Olympic Community College players) a look at the next level, taking on the teams they’d compete with regularly if they made it to the BlueJackets.

“This team gives them a great way to find out what these leagues are all about,” he said. “They’ll see some good ball clubs, no doubt.”

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