In 2016, the Eastside Catholic Crusaders baseball team saw their season come to an end courtesy of a 3-1 loss to the Sumner Spartans in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament.
The crushing defeat certainly has lingered in the minds of pitchers Jackson Bandow, Justin Armbruester and Cole Galvagno since last May. The senior trio hopes to lead the Crusaders to a Class 3A state championship this season. All three of Eastside Catholic’s prolific pitchers on the hill will play collegiate baseball next season on the diamond. Bandow will play at Yale University, Armbruester has committed to Pacific Lutheran University and Galvagno will be an invited walk-on at the University of Washington. Galvagno wants to see his squad redeem themselves after last season’s early exit from the postseason.
“We got knocked out in the first round last year and it left a bitter taste in our mouths. We’re just really excited to get back after it and make a run this season. The goal is to win a state championship. We just have to take it one game at a time,” Galvagno said.
The Crusaders have built a 14-5 record thus far. Eastside Catholic has won 12 of their past 14 games since going on a three-game losing streak in mid-March. Bandow, who tossed a no-hitter against the Garfield Bulldogs on March 25, isn’t surprised his team righted the ship after a sluggish start in early season action.
“This is a really solid team. We’re all excited to grow and connect as a team. That is what we have showed in the last couple of games. We struggled early and now we are getting into (Metro) league and we are really starting to take off and are starting to get on a roll,” Bandow said. “I can’t wait to see what we can do this year.”
The Crusaders “big three” are thankful they’ve already chosen their respective college destinations.
“I grew up as a Husky. My whole family went to UW and I have been a diehard Husky fan ever since I could walk. For me there was really no choice. It was always a dream school and once I got the call getting the invite my heart was racing,” Galvagno said.
Armbruester committed to PLU earlier this spring.
“For me I didn’t really know where I wanted to go until this spring. The pitching coach (Sean Taunt) down there really started recruiting me pretty hard. I liked what he preached. I went on a couple of visits and I just found that was the home for me,” Armbruester said.
The Crusaders trio know they’re one of the few teams in Washington with three collegiate-bound arms on the varsity roster.
“We are all dominant in our own ways. It is just awesome to be able to know that the next guy up on the bump is going to do well. We are all confident in each other and we all believe we can excel,” Galvagno said.
The Crusaders senior hurlers know there is a sense of urgency with not much time remaining in their high school athletic careers.
“It makes me want to push everyday and work as hard as I can because I know everyday could be the last one. I want to work hard because I know I don’t have very much time left with these boys,” Armbruester said.