Career Ladder

Posted 7/2/09

Both Giarrizzo and Jameson will play ball at the collegiate level next year. They're hardly alone in making that jump. Over the years, the Pioneers' program has sent several players on to play ball at the college ranks.

“It's something I …

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Career Ladder


Pioneers a stepping stone for college playLocal baseball purists have less than a month to enjoy watching the talents of players like Gianluca Giarrizzo and Scotty Jameson. After that, they'll have to travel a bit to witness the exploits of these two Powell Pioneers.

Both Giarrizzo and Jameson will play ball at the collegiate level next year. They're hardly alone in making that jump. Over the years, the Pioneers' program has sent several players on to play ball at the college ranks.

“It's something I like to do,” said Pioneers coach Jeff Young. “If a kid has the interest in continuing to play, I like to do what I can because I've been through the process and I didn't have anyone to really help me.”

The places Pioneer alumni wind up for college can be rather diverse, as demonstrated by this year's signees.

Jameson will take his game to Arkansas State, an NCAA Division I program. Giarrizzo will head in the opposite direction and play for Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore., an NCAA Division III program.

In doing so, both will look to build upon careers that have already seen them earn all-state honors twice in their Legion years.

“The Pioneers program has been great since Coach Young became coach,” said Giarrizzo. “He pushes us to accomplish our goals.”

For Giarrizzo, there was never much doubt that continuing to play baseball was one of those goals. An avid player since his T-ball days, Giarrizzo has always viewed America's pastime as unique.

“It just isn't like other sports,” notes Giarrizzo. “There's never a point where you can say you're OK. Baseball pushes you to get better and to constantly work to improve. It really captures the essence of what you want to be doing with sports.”

Giarrizzo's path to Oregon's Rose City and Lewis and Clark came after the Powell teen played in a Northwest Baseball Classic tournament in Portland.

“I met up with the coach at the tournament and eventually toured the campus,” said Giarrizzo. “I loved it. Everything just felt right about it, so it worked out nice.”

Things also worked out nice for Jameson, who had a little help from a family connection during the recruiting process.

“My brother grew up with the pitching coach at Arkansas State,” said Jameson. “He played ball with him, so I was able to get him to take a look at a DVD of my pitching mechanics.”

Needless to say, the Red Wolves liked what they saw and offered a spot on the team to Jameson, who also had offers on the table from NJCAA and NAIA schools.

“I'm excited about it (playing Division I ball),” said Jameson. “It's going to push me a lot. I'm a very competitive person, especially when I'm out there on the mound. I love facing hitters and seeing what I can do.”

Jameson has an arsenal capable of overpowering a lot of the hitters he faces. The Pioneers' ace is armed with a curve ball, change up, split-finger fastball and a straight heater that coaches are working to get into the 90 mile-per-hour range. What's more, he's comfortable breaking any of them out when needed.

“It just depends on the hitter and what he's done previously in the game,” Jameson said when asked which pitch he'd call upon to get the third strike in a close-game situation.

Like Giarrizzo, Jameson's love for baseball began at a young age. He's hoping the game stays with him for a number of years.

“My dream is to play Major League ball someday,” said Jameson. “I've been playing baseball for as long as I can remember — since I was a little kid in the back yard. Playing professionally, that's the dream. Coach Young has worked with me so much on my hitting and Coach (Cody) Bradley has helped with my pitch mechanics.”

The pair might not be the only members of the 2009 Pioneers team heading on to play college ball either. Young notes Grant Geiser, another two-time all-state selection for the club, has offers on the table. Dallas Robirds, rehabbing after an injury-shortened 2008 season, has also gotten some looks.

That's par for the course for the Pioneers' program. Young has watched six other players climb the ladder to collegiate baseball over the previous three years.

Giarrizzo and Jameson follow in the footsteps of Wade Elliott (Oregon Institute of Technology), Mark Hyde (Eastern Utah), Brad Brinkerhoff (Eastern Utah), Alex Cravens (St. Mary's), Anthony Masterson (Kenyon) and Mike Jameson (Panhandle State).

“The important thing is to find a program that fits you,” said Young. “Most college teams carry 30-40 players, so there's plenty of opportunities there. Nothing thrills me more than to get that call from a kid who's excited that he's just been offered a scholarship and accepted. Those calls are priceless.”