KIHEI - It didn't take long for Mark Karaviotis to know he was in the right place Saturday night.
Moments after the Maui High School senior shortstop committed to a baseball scholarship from the University of Oregon at Autzen Stadium, the student section at the Ducks' football game against Washington started serenading him.
"There was me and about six other recruits, they took us down on the field before the game and I committed right before the game to (assistant coach Mark Wasikowski)," said the 6-foot-1, 175-pound Maui Interscholastic League first-team All-Star. "It was pretty amazing. Right as I committed, I guess word got back to the student section of the stadium and about 10,000 of the students just started chanting my name for about 10 seconds - it was pretty unreal.
Mark Karaviotis, shown playing for Maui High School in 2011, will officially commit to the Oregon baseball program next month.
The?Maui News / Matthew Thayer photo
‘All the years of hard work, it just feels good to have finally made the decision and being happy with it. Anybody wants to play for a team that has the chance to win the national championship.’
– Mark Karaviotis
"They were saying, 'Mark Karaviotis, welcome to Oregon.' "
Karaviotis said he will officially sign with the Ducks on Nov. 11, the first day of the early signing period.
"The 59,000 people in the stands just made it feel like the right time," he said. "When the students were chanting my name, my parents started tearing up."
Karaviotis also took official visits to Indiana, San Diego State and Loyola Marymount, all of which offered scholarships, as did UC Riverside.
"The athletic facilities were second to none, but what was really cool was they have this place for student-athletes called the Jaqua (Academic) Center," Karaviotis said of the factor that tipped the scales for Oregon, moments before an SAT prep session in Kihei. "It's 40,000 square feet, it was built just this last year, and it is just for student-athletes, for tutoring, for study hall, they have computer labs. It was pretty unreal."
Karaviotis said he plans to major in business or sports medicine, and the Ducks have told him he will have a shot at the starting shortstop job from the moment he steps on campus.
Oregon coach George Horton guided Cal State Fullerton to the NCAA title in 2004 with Baldwin graduate Kurt Suzuki leading the way. In their fourth season after reinstating the program following a 28-year hiatus, the Ducks were one win from reaching the College World Series in 2012.
Karaviotis has been on several travel squads, the most recent being a Tampa Bay scout team. He plays approximately 45-50 games per year.
"All the years of hard work, it just feels good to have finally made the decision and be-ing happy with it," he said. "Anybody wants to play for a team that has the chance to win the national championship and playing under a great manager in coach Horton is a big part of it."
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com