Expectations soar high for veteran Eastside Catholic squad | Baseball preview

Senior Jake Gober fields a throw at second base, while sophomore Gunnar Buhner backs him up. - Kevin Endejan/Reporter
Senior Jake Gober fields a throw at second base, while sophomore Gunnar Buhner backs him up.
— image credit: Kevin Endejan/Reporter

When Eastside Catholic head baseball coach Kurt Boyd looks at his 2011 team he sees a ton of positives.

The most glaring of those, however, is the similarity between this year’s squad and the 2007 Crusader team  —  the last ECHS group to make the state tournament.

“If you look at the makeup and roster, they’re almost identical to numbers and talent level of the kids,” Boyd said.

Eastside returns 10 seniors, but also a balance of experienced underclassmen, including three juniors and six sophomores.

“Composition wise it’s made of a lot of hardened senior veterans combined with a good support of very strong juniors and very upstart, energetic sophomore class,” Boyd said.

Leading that group of seniors is Jake Gober. A second-team All Metro selection at catcher and third base last year, he is expected to see significant time at catcher and second base this season while senior second baseman Jacob Kelliher recovers from off-season surgery.

The pitching staff will also be led by a senior in Kyle Larson. Forced to sit out last season after transferring, the right-hander will get his shot as the No. 1 starter. Seniors Kyle Jaske, Max Wolfram and Charlie Ory will provide relief, while sophomores Austin Soukup, Jeff Kepple and Alex Foley fill the other starter slots.

The infield will be solidified at first base by senior Justin David and junior Braden Wolgamott. Gober and sophomore Blake Gillespie will share time at second base and sophomores Hayden Meier and Kepple will split time at third. Shortstop will be filled by first-team All-Metro selection, junior Jeff Bohling, and sophomore Gunnar Buhner  —  the son of Seattle Mariner great Jay Buhner.

Eastside Catholic’s outfield will be anchored by senior Ben Boyle, senior Matt Wenzinger, junior Chris Cardoza, Foley, Jaske and Ory. Senior outfielder Rob Granfelt will miss the entire season after suffering an injury in football and senior outfielder Dan Williams could miss the entire season with shin splints.

With all the experience, Boyd expects his team to be solid both on the mound and in the field. He hopes that will be enough to help the Crusaders reach their ultimate goal of reaching the 3A state finals in Tacoma.

Of course that will require getting past two-time defending state champion O’Dea and usual Metro powerhouses Seattle Prep and Blanchet.

“Our goal right now is to get to Cheney (Stadium),” Boyd said. “It really depends on these kids, it’s on their shoulders. They know it, they’ve got something good here.”

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