Derek Wiley
The Bulletin

Upcoming games

June 18-19: Elks at Victoria

June 21-23: Elks vs. Bellingham

June 25-27: Elks vs. Walla Walla

When Bend Elks relief pitcher Coen Wynne entered Friday’s game against the Portland Pickles in the seventh inning, he was throwing to a familiar face.

Along with being Elks teammates, Wynne and catcher Dante DeNiro also play for Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona.

“I’m really comfortable throwing to Dante,” said Wynne, who allowed one hit and struck out five batters in 21⁄3 innings Friday to preserve a 12-10 Elks victory. “It takes away stress. You don’t have to go over the signs with a new catcher. They don’t have to learn how you like to pitch and what you like to put people away with and structure at-bats. Knowing Dante makes it easier.”

Wynne, from Sydney, Australia, is back for a second season with the Elks after spending last summer in Bend.

Pitching in relief, he posted a 3.00 ERA in 36 innings this spring for Grand Canyon, which had its winningest season as an NCAA Division I program (36-24) and lost in the championship game of the Western Athletic Conference tournament.

Wynne said he returned to Bend because of Elks coach Joe Dominiak and the fans who continued to support the team last summer despite the worst season in franchise history.

“Surprisingly with how bad of a season we had, we had really good fans,” said Wynne, who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning Sunday to earn his third save in a 3-0 victory against the Pickles. “There’s a great atmosphere. Bend is a great town. I like the travel that we get to do in the West Coast League, too. Being from Australia, I like that I get to travel up and down the West Coast.”

Dominiak lives in Tempe, Arizona, when he is not coaching and was able to attend several Grand Canyon games this spring. Dominiak said he is also close with Grand Canyon pitching coach Rich Dorman, after coaching him at Chemeketa Community College in Salem.

Three Grand Canyon teammates came with Wynne to Bend this summer — DeNiro, pitcher Michael Hansell and outfielder Jake Jarvis.

“It’s a cool experience playing with my boys again. We’re all pretty close,” said DeNiro, who also has been impressed by Elks fans.

“There’s something different about the crowd here,” he said. “They’re very energetic. They love to be here. They’re loud and supportive.”

DeNiro, from Tucson, Arizona, has played baseball for as long as he can remember and started playing catcher when he was 11 or 12.

“I played infield for a little bit, middle infield and third base, and then they (batters) started hitting the ball too hard at me so I had to put some gear on and go behind the dish,” said DeNiro, who was roommates with Jarvis during their freshman college season. DeNiro, Jarvis and Hansell are all rising sophomores at Grand Canyon and played sparingly as freshmen.

“We had a really great outfield this past season at Grand Canyon so it was tough to get in the lineup,” said Jarvis, who hit a modest .231 in 13 at-bats for the Antelopes this spring. “I’m trying to make the most of this summer and get as many at-bats as possible and get everything back in rhythm for the fall when I get back to Arizona.”

Starting in left field, Jarvis knocked in two runs and scored one Sunday in Portland.

Jarvis and Hansell both come from baseball families. Jarvis’ father, Jason, pitched at the University of Utah and was then selected by the New York Yankees in the 13th round of the 1994 Major League Baseball draft.

“I’ve always played baseball. It’s kind of embedded in my family,” Jarvis said. “My dad really worked with me hard and got me to where I am today.”

Hansell’s father, Kirk, played shortstop for San Diego State in 1984 and ’85.

“When I was about 9 years old I started throwing the ball off the mound and kind of fell in love with it,” said Hansell, whose pitches include a fastball, curveball and splitter. He is working on adding a change-up and slider. “I just want to get a lot of innings off the mound and just pitch well and get better.”

­­— Reporter: 541-383-0307, dwiley@bendbulletin.com

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