EVERETT — Payne Patchett grew up going to Everett AquaSox games.
He was in attendance when the franchise won the Northwest League title in 2010. He was there when former Seattle Mariners star Robinson Cano homered during a rehab assignment last August.
And on Friday night, the recent Lake Stevens High School graduate was back at Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium for the AquaSox’s home opener.
Except this time, he was watching the game from the press box, sporting a red Salem-Keizer Volcanoes hat. And this time, he was there for work.
Patchett, 18, is the new play-by-play radio broadcaster for the Volcanoes — the short-season Class A Northwest League affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.
After beginning his professional broadcasting career earlier this month with a seven-game season-opening homestand in Salem-Keizer, Friday night marked Patchett’s first road game as the team’s play-by-play voice. Fittingly, his first road trip happened to be a Snohomish County homecoming.
“It felt like it was fate,” Patchett said Friday after Salem-Keizer’s thrilling 10-9 comeback win in 10 innings. “… Not only to have the first road game be here, but to also have the result be like this, it just really could not have been scripted any better.”
Patchett, featured in The Herald multiple times this spring for his broadcasting talent, has long been working toward this moment. Over the past eight high school seasons, he kept score and recorded play-by-play audio for nearly 200 Lake Stevens varsity baseball games. Along the way, he developed into a polished broadcaster whose skill far exceeds his age.
Patchett’s passion for announcing certainly was evident during Friday’s game. His enthusiastic voice drifted through the press box on a number of occasions — particularly when Salem-Keizer erased a six-run deficit in the sixth inning, and later when the Volcanoes mounted a two-run rally with two outs in the ninth.
On Salem-Keizer’s ninth-inning game-tying single, Patchett unleashed the following call: “A ground ball into the hole in center! Two runs are going to score! Salem-Keizer has just tied the game on a two-run single by Sean Roby! The game will continue!”
“This is why I like baseball,” Patchett said after the game, reflecting on the wild comeback victory. “This is why I like sports. It’s because of moments like this, and it’s just very exciting.”
Patchett has become plenty familiar with late-game drama over the past week or so, as Friday’s contest was already Salem-Keizer’s third extra-inning win in just eight games. In their first two contests of the season, the Volcanoes earned a pair of walk-off victories in extra frames.
“It’s definitely cool,” Patchett said of the exciting finishes. “It felt like I got the hard stuff out of the way in terms of those types of games. … Game three felt like just an absolute breeze after (the first two games), so that absolutely helped me a lot.”
Patchett said he’s acclimated well to his first professional gig, and that he didn’t have many nerves on opening night.
“I was perfectly fine, surprisingly,” he said. “I didn’t even know I was going to be that fine, but I was.”
On the second night of the season, Patchett got the opportunity to interview former six-time Major League Baseball All-Star pitcher Vida Blue, who was making a guest appearance with the organization.
“He was very funny, he was definitely happy to be there and talk to people, and it was just very cool being in the same area as him,” Patchett said.
Patchett said he’ll also get a chance to interview notable individuals such as 10-time MLB All-Star Steve Garvey, 1956 World Series most valuable player Don Larsen and former three-time national championship-winning Oregon State baseball coach Pat Casey.
Patchett didn’t have any such baseball legends to interview Friday, but there were several family members and a contingent of Lake Stevens High School staff members who showed up to see him in action. The four-game series, which runs through Monday, is Salem-Keizer’s only scheduled trip to Everett this season.
“It feels very cool knowing that there’s a bunch of people who have come out to support me,” Patchett said.
With his high school commencement ceremony just three days prior to the Volcanoes’ June 14 season opener, Patchett had to miss walking at graduation. He headed down to Oregon on June 8 — the day after classes finished — to prepare for his summer as Salem-Keizer’s play-by-play voice.
Patchett said he found a dormitory to live in that’s about a 15-minute drive from the ballpark. Since he’s without a car, he takes Uber rides back and forth.
Patchett said he gets to the ballpark plenty early on game days to begin his various duties, such as making copies of rosters, lineups and stats to distribute to the press box and various individuals.
For his own use, Patchett creates individual notecards filled with information about every Volcanoes player and opposing player. These notecards provide him quick and easy access during the game to stats and other facts such as draft history, age and hometown.
In addition to calling the games, Patchett does a pregame show and a postgame wrap-up.
“To be completely honest, experience like this is better than college, because I’m getting straight hands-on experience,” said Patchett, whose ultimate goal is to become an MLB broadcaster. “… This job is definitely going to help me for the future.”