Hillmick picks Pirates

<p>Pendleton's Taylor Hillmick throws from the mound in the Bucks' 9-8 win against Walla Walla on Tuesday in Pendleton.</p>

Pendleton senior Taylor Hillmick had no shortages of options when it came time to select the collegiate program where he’d continue his baseball career.

The pitcher and outfielder snagged interest from no fewer than six programs in the Northwest, and after taking visits to several campuses settled on a familiar locale.

Hillmick signed his letter of intent with Division III Whitworth on Monday at Big John’s Pizza in Pendleton.

“I know the coaches, I know the team pretty well after playing up there all summer, and it just felt more like home up there,” he said. “It made it easy.”

Hillmick, who played his summer baseball with the Spokane Dodgers, caught the eye of recruiters with his 2.92 ERA that came in 34 innings against hitters that already were, or will be on college rosters.

“It was pretty cool,” Hillmick said of the recruiting process. “I was pretty ecstatic after I?got my first call from Pacific (University), and then they just started flowing in after I?got done with the Dodgers.”

Due to Div. III?rules, Whitworth was not able to offer Hillmick an athletic scholarship. But the PHS class president’s 4.29 GPA and other academic achievements earned him enough scholarship money to cover tuition and rooming.

The Pirates finished last season 14-25-1 and eighth in the nine-team Northwest Conference. Also courting Hillmick from the NWC were defending champions George Fox and third-place Pacific. He also fielded calls from St. Martin’s in Seattle, Concordia and Oregon Tech.

He said the chance to play early helped steer him toward Whitworth.

“They told me if I?work hard enough I?can get on (the field) as a freshman and that’s pretty much what my goal is to do,”?he said, adding that he’ll play anywhere and isn’t set on pitching since his throwing shoulder has been surgically repaired once already. “Especially after my shoulder surgery, wherever I can get in on the field I’m pretty happy with.”

Hillmick finished his junior season at Pendleton with a 6.92 ERA?and six saves in 29.1 innings pitched. He batted .246 in 65 at-bats and fielded .918 with 38 putouts.

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Contact Matt Entrup at mentrup@eastoregonian.com or (541) 966-0838.

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