Kamiak grads playing together as Knights again
Two former Kamiak baseball players are once again playing for the same team – also for the Knights.
Alex Nesbitt, 19, and Seth Heck, 20, are playing with the Corvallis Knights in the West Coast League, a summer collegiate baseball team. Nesbitt is a pitcher, Heck plays short stop.
“We grew up together, and then I went off to college and he was still in high school,” Heck said. “The fact that our paths crossed here, in Corvallis, a year and a half later is pretty unique.”
The Knights play 11 other teams in the two-division league, from the Cowlitz Black Bears to the Walla Walla Sweets. Their home field is at Goss Stadium, also home of the Pac-12 Oregon State Beavers.
The Corvallis Knights just finished an 11-game home stand and, on consecutive nights, July 4 and 5, Nesbitt and Heck were named Players of the Game. Nesbitt was Player of the Game again on July 10.
They are now in Bellingham, playing the Bellingham Bells. Right now, the team is second in their division, 20-14.
Nesbitt graduated in 2012, Heck in 2011. Just a year or two out of Kamiak, both of them have committed to playing major Division I college baseball.
Heck, of Edmonds, just finished his sophomore year as a short stop for Tacoma Community College. After two years playing for Tacoma, he recently signed to play baseball next year at Mississippi State University.
He said playing for Corvallis is a nice way for him to transition into playing for Mississippi State.
“Here in Corvallis, it’s West Coast, and you’re playing against mostly Division 1 players and at the level I’m going to be at next year,” Heck said. “I think it’s a good introduction of what to expect.”
Nesbitt, of Mukilteo, just finished his freshman year as a pitcher for the University of Washington.
Two weeks before Nesbitt was to report to the Corvallis Knights in June, Heck was contracted to play 10 days with the Knights as well. Heck’s contract has since been extended.
They like that when they’re miles from home, there is a familiar face on the field.
“I didn’t learn until later that Seth was on the team, so that was pretty exciting,” Nesbitt said. “It definitely brings back a lot of memories.”
Heck played short stop all four years at Kamiak on the varsity team. Nesbitt joined varsity as a sophomore and shadowed Heck as a short stop. Heck was the starting short stop.
“During practice, I played back at short stop and learned a lot of stuff from him,” Nesbitt said. “That helped me, when I finally got my chance after he graduated.”
His senior year, Nesbitt started pitching as well. Heck had never seen him pitch before Corvallis.
They have fond memories of high school practices or hanging out with the team off the field, a lot of times at the Mukilteo beach.
“High school baseball basically brought us together,” Nesbitt said. “I just remember always being able to talk about whatever was going on and have a good time.
“It’s easy to hang out with him because we’re pretty similar in the way we play the game.”
His first summer in college, Heck played for the Olean Oilers, a collegiate team in the New York League.
“It’s actually a pretty neat little deal,” Heck said of collegiate baseball. “It brings all these kids together, from different schools and different levels, to form these teams, and we play these small towns in front of thousands of fans every night.
“A lot of the times, the town you go to doesn’t have a professional team, so this is their entertainment.”
Nesbitt and Heck have themselves a good team: The West Coast League entered its ninth season in 2013 with the Knights leading with 248 total wins after eight years. Wenatchee was second with 241 wins.
Last summer, Corvallis won its sixth consecutive West Division title and advanced to the WCL Championship Series for the fifth time in the last six years.
“We’re on a four or five game winning streak right now,” Heck said last week. “We’re playing good.
“The Corvallis Knights are usually in the playoffs or right on the verge of the championship every season, so that’s what we’re shooting for.”
This season runs from June 4 to Aug. 20. The Knights play at least six games a week, hitting the road when there aren’t scheduled home games.
The team has been anywhere from Wenatchee and Walla Walla to Kitsap and Bend, Ore. and are on their way to Victoria, B.C. soon.
“You can play up to 45 or 50 games,” Heck said. “Your off days are very scarce. You’re here to play baseball, and that’s about all you have time for.
“But it’s what you sign up for.”
They both have the goal of getting a good college education and to keep playing baseball as long as possible. Heck is majoring in business, Nesbitt in communications. They said playing on a professional team would be a dream come true.
“I’m just going to keep playing until I can’t anymore, and just go from there,” Heck said. “If it doesn’t work out, I have a degree.”
If they do make it professionally, both Nesbitt and Heck said they would want to play for their hometown team, the Seattle Mariners.
Who knows – maybe someday they’ll be on the same team again.