The bigger the bat, the better Ferndale’s Kyler Brudwick hits.
Swinging a 35-inch, 45-ounce wooden war club, Brudwick went 4 for 4 — all line shots — in the first game of the annual Northwest Regional Class 2A/3A All-Star Feeder doubleheader.
Brudwick didn’t play the second game on Monday, June 1, at Joe Martin Field, but he didn’t need to. He was nonetheless a thoroughly convincing winner of the Mal Walton Award, given to the top performer from Whatcom County.
Burlington-Edison’s Nic Metcalf won the Al Evans Award to lead seven players from south of Whatcom County who received nominations for consideration to play in the All-State Series June 13-14 in Yakima.
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After the eight-inning games ended in ties of 2-2 and 1-1 between the Nationals and the Americans, the three players nominated from Whatcom County were Ferndale’s Brady Shearer and Brudwick and Squalicum’s Carter Nickelson.
The Class 1A/2B/1B feeder games are scheduled Wednesday on the same field, starting at 5 p.m.
Brudwick, a three-year starter at Ferndale, can’t even remotely hide his passion for baseball.
“I have so much passion for the game. I’m going to play until I’m told I can’t play any longer,” said Brudwick. “I’ve committed to play at Central Washington University.”
Since the regular season ended for Ferndale, Brudwick has used bigger and bigger bats.
“I batted about .350 using 32- and 33-inch bats,” the old-school style third baseman said. “I was a little disappointed. I had higher expectations, but I feel I just got into my own head too much, thinking instead of just hitting.”
So he switched to a 34-inch bat for districts and state regional play. The result was 10 for 18 slugging in five pressure-packed games. Using an even larger bat, this one of wood, he is off to a 7 for 14 start in the first four Post 7 American Legion games.
Throw in his 4 for 4 on Monday, and he’s 21 for 36 over a 10-game span.
“I’ve wanted to play college baseball since I was in grade school,” said Brudwick. “The reason I’m using a wood bat (now) is that I can’t find any 35-inch metal bats. Wood has a smaller sweet spot than metal, so that is helping me to develop more consistency.
“I’ve worked hard to get to where I want to be, and now I can see it’s paying off,” he said.
In the first game, Sehome’s Jake Albert, Bellingham’s Nate Pearsall, Connor Erickson and Nickelson had the only other hits for Whatcom County schools. In the second game, Squalicum’s Tim Lann went 2 for 4, including a two-out double in the bottom of the eighth. Lann was stranded when a fly ball ended the game.
The only other Whatcom hit in the second game was a sixth-inning single for the Nationals by Nickelson, who scored the tying run on a two-out single by Daniel Head of Granite Falls.
Albert showcased his versatility when he played four innings for both teams in the opener — at shortstop and first base — then pitched the first three innings of the second game. He allowed the Americans’ second-game run on a single by Archbishop Murphy’s Sean Clancy — the only hit Albert permitted — and a sacrifice fly by Mitch Davis of Anacortes.
In addition to Metcalf, the all-star nominations for the southern schools included Mason Schwetz of Burlington, University of Washington pitching signee Adam Davenport of Cedarcrest, Chris Gentry and Head from Granite Falls, Conor Sand and Clancy from Archbishop Murphy, and Jordan Neville from Anacortes.
Squalicum’s David Stealy pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth for the Nationals in the opener. Blaine’s Cody Gobbato pitched well for both teams, while Ferndale’s Corbin Puhan and Bellingham’s Charlie Carmichael each threw two scoreless innings for the Nationals in the second game and Metcalf finished with a scoreless eighth.
Perhaps the best defensive play came on the first out of the eighth inning for the Americans as the Nationals tried to preserve the tie. Sehome’s Leif Anderson ranged well into foul territory in right field to make an outstanding catch.
The rest of those who played from Whatcom County included Squalicum’s Kyle Little, Josh Holcomb and Ben Tripp, Bellingham’s Dante Check, Ferndale’s Ian Barnes and Erickson.
Spelling of Erickson's name and his hit in the first game corrected on June 2, 2015.