Curtis Handy plans to train to become an electrician rather than try to play college baseball, so it was fitting that the Nooksack Valley standout lit up the field in his last local appearance.
Handy went 4 for 6 in the Class 1A/2B/1B Northwest Regional Feeder Games on Wednesday, June 3, to earn the annual Mal Walton Award for the outstanding player from Whatcom County.
Pioneers teammate Cole Mattice produced the first winning hit in four feeder games this week at Joe Martin Field when he singled home Meridian’s Tanner Tutterrow with two outs in the seventh inning, giving the Nationals a 4-3 win over the Americans.
Amazingly in the series of four eight-inning feeders, three ended in ties. The first game Wednesday ended 6-6, following 1-1 and 2-2 ties Monday in the 2A/3A contests.
“I’ve been injured all year,” said Handy, who batted a solid but personally disappointing .306 for Nooksack. He suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in Nooksack’s fourth football game and he has played well through a hip injury in baseball.
Handy, however, showed he will be more than healthy enough to play in the all-state series June 13-14 in Yakima if he is chosen.
He was among 10 players nominated for consideration. Two other locals were also nominated — pitcher/shortstop Tutterrow and pitcher/outfielder Ryan Gelwicks from Nooksack.
Just as in the 2A/3A feeders, the other seven nominations were for players from south of Whatcom County, including Al Evans Award winner David McLaurin from Cedar Park Christian. Playing for the Whatcom-dominated Nationals instead of the Americans, McLaurin went 4 for 7.
The other nominees were Darrington’s Andrew Young, South Whidbey’s Mo Hamsa, Overlake’s Aaron Mell and Evan Sather, Coupeville’s Aaron Curtain and Concrete’s Gibson Fichter.
It was hard to believe it took 31 innings to produce a winning run in the four feeder games, but that’s exactly how it went.
Tutterrow hustled out an infield hit to open the seventh. Nooksack’s Taylor Gardner, batting in his third different spot in the informally played second game, worked a walk and Overlake’s Mike Lau singled to load the bases.
With two outs, Mattice sliced a solid single to right to chase home Tutterrow, who pitched two scoreless innings to open the first game.
“I’m committed to Skagit Valley College,” said the ever-scrappy Tutterrow, who has won raves for his passion for baseball at Meridian. “I’m going to my hardest, anywhere they want me to play.”
Meridian’s Dalton Biehle pitched two scoreless innings — allowing only one hit, like Tutterrow — to preserve the 6-6 tie in the opener. The versatile Gelwicks and Lynden Christian’s Alex VanderVelden worked the middle four innings.
“I’m playing for the Skagit Sox American Legion team this summer, hoping to get noticed by community colleges,” said Gelwicks. “Anything to keep going in baseball is my saying.”
Handy went 3 for 3 with a run batted in for the first game. Also checking in with run-scoring hits were Meridian’s Thomas Utschinski, Lynden Christian’s Josh Heutink and Nooksack’s Brady Wood. LC’s Dylan Meenk scored three runs.
Gelwicks, VanderVelden and Gardner also had hits in the second game. It was the last appearance for Gardner, who plans to join the Navy.
Nationals coach Scott Gelwicks, Ryan’s uncle and Nooksack’s coach, thought his team put a lot of effort into both games.
“I thought they were great,” he said of his team.
Some of the pitching for both sides was a bit raw — there were a total of 24 walks and three hit batters in the two games combined, in which Meridian’s Erik Price also played.
A whopping 153 players batted in both contests combined.