Energetic King County Mets cap perfect tourney with Pathway Omaha UpperClass title

June 25, 2024

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — As soon as the final out was recorded, the King County Mets stormed out onto the blazing hot turf field with water bottles in hand. As they rushed their teammates, the shouting and water bottle showers ensued.


Not too long after the fact, the jubilant group of players from Seattle brought out a water cooler and surprised their leader, coach Marcus McCannel, with a freezing cold water and ice bath.


There was plenty to celebrate as the top-seeded Mets had just defeated No. 2 LS Titans 10-1 in the Pathway Omaha UpperClass championship game Monday at Iowa Western Community College.


Apparently, though, it was just another day for the energetic Mets, which celebrated their way to a perfect 7-0 record, allowing just 17 total runs in the process.


“It’s all about having fun. The teams that perform well have the most fun, and I feel like we did a great job of that all weekend,” said Mets cleanup hitter Vance Phipps, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI in the title game.


The squad’s manager was also not surprised by the enthusiasm.  


“These boys had a bunch of pancakes every morning and they were high energy. They’re great and I love coaching them,” McCannel said. “They always bring the energy and when we come out here in this tough and hot environment these boys showed up. It was really cool to see.”


The Mets offense showed up early and often when Hayden Villasenor drilled a three-run home run over the left-field wall for an early 3-run lead. Thomas Wood drove in the fourth run with a sacrifice fly in the fourth and the fifth tally came across by way of a balk.


The Mets enjoyed a five-run sixth courtesy of RBI singles from Phipps, Wood and Micah Bartle. The other two runs came by way of an error and a hit by pitch with the bases loaded.


Mason King added a 3-for-3 effort while Hayden Heckenkamp and Wood collected two hits apiece.


“We got hot, for sure. I’d say our offense is a strong suit and it definitely came alive in the championship game,” Phipps said. “The first two games our bats were a little sleepy coming off a long flight, but we turned it on and that’s all that matters.”


Max Starikov notched the win on the mound, allowing just three hits and striking out two across four scoreless innings. In two innings of relief, Lucas Clarke surrendered four hits and one unearned run while striking out three.


“Our pitching staff was great all tournament,” McCannel added. “I think we allowed five or six runs total all weekend. It was crazy. I’m really proud of everyone.”


The Mets, who have played together for three years, enjoyed their first Pathway Omaha experience — living in the Iowa Western dorms, eating breakfast on campus, hitting in the cages in the mornings and more.


“We were here for baseball. It was a business trip so getting it done, it meant a lot,” Phipps said. “It helps getting in front of coaches but overall it was just really fun. It really provided the perspective of playing collegiate baseball; what it would be like with early morning hitting, breakfast and games every day.”


“It’s a cool bonding experience for these kids – on and off the field,” McCannel said.


Winning can certainly help that bonding experience, no doubt.


“We knew that this had a lot of quality teams that we hadn’t seen before in a new area and compete,”McCannel said. “When you do win, which is obviously a hard thing to do, it creates a winning atmosphere for the boys. Here it was important to keep that because we did expect to win. They worked hard for it.”