July 7, 2013
By Craig Lawson
NEWPORT, R.I. - Across the United States, current NCAA baseball student-athletes are playing in summer collegiate leagues. For four Washington State Cougars, the tourist town of Newport, R.I., is home this summer.
Pitcher Sean Hartnett, second baseman Shea Donlin, shortstop Trace Tam Sing and outfielder Ben Roberts are teammates in the smallest state in the union for the hometown Newport Gulls.
Newport has been a summer destination for several Cougars who eventually became MLB draft picks. Pitchers Chad Arnold, Jeremy Johnson and Travis Webb, first baseman Jim Murphy, second baseman Tommy Richards, and outfielders Derek Jones and Jared Prince have all spent time with Gulls before being selected by a professional team. Tam Sing was selected in this year's draft by the Kansas City Royals.
I visited the current Gulls/Cougars, July 5, during a summer trip to New England. Not only did I have a chance to chat with the guys before and after the game, but I met Trace's brother and mother who were visiting from Bellevue, Wash., and was treated to Sean singing the national anthem as part of the pregame ceremony. I would definitely love to see another rendition back in Pullman next spring. It was cap night and I was able to snare a freebie on my way through the gate as a bonus to my evening at the yard.
The Cougars are making an impact with Gulls. During one game this year, the hitting trio batted 1-2-3 in the lineup. During the game I saw, Ben drove in a run with a ringing double, his league-leading 10th of the season, as part of a 3-1 victory over visiting Plymouth (Mass.). Although Sean did not pitch in the game, he is having an outstanding summer with 13 innings pitched, 22 strikeouts to three walks, and zero runs given up on six hits.
The Gulls' home is Cardines Field, a ballpark built in the late 19th century. The community supports the team, as over 2,900 were in attendance. Not only that, but over $3,000 was raised in support of a local community member battling ALS. I could not help but be reminded of former Washington State football/baseball student-athlete Steve Gleason and his battle with the disease and the tremendous support he has received from fellow Cougars.
During an Independence Day weekend, it was nice to be reminded of a couple of things that makes our country great, people helping each other in their communities and beyond, and baseball in the sun. Both were on display in Newport and I am thankful to have been a part of it.