Dynamic duo leads Crusader baseball team into playoffs

Curt Towey possesses a rare luxury in 2009 — one very few high school baseball coaches stumble across in a lifetime.

Curt Towey possesses a rare luxury in 2009 — one very few high school baseball coaches stumble across in a lifetime.

Eastside Catholic’s roster boasts two Division I recruits in seniors Mike Englund and Matt Boyd.

“They’re both solid players,” Towey said. “When they’re up to bat or on the mound, you just kind of send them up there and let them do their thing.”

Englund, a 6-foot, 200-pound shortstop/second baseman, has committed to Arizona State University, while Boyd, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound pitcher, has committed to Oregon State University. The scholarships are admittedly huge steps toward life-long goals by both players of reaching the Major Leagues.

“I can obviously go to ASU and it’s one of the top programs in all of college baseball,” Englund said. “I feel like I can get better there, and then come out three years later a lot better player than I am right now.”

Boyd, who resides on Mercer Island, said staying close to home was important to him.

“There’s a great coaching staff down there, they’ve got a great program,” he said. “They’re up and coming. They’ve been to the (College) World Series three out of the last four years.”

While Englund and Boyd are excited to jump to the collegiate level, neither has ruled out one more possibility — the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft in June.

“People talk and stuff,” Boyd said. “You don’t really know anything yet because it’s pretty early. But it’s my dream to play Major League Baseball, so if I have an opportunity, we’ll see what happens.”

Englund, whose brother was signed directly out of Bellevue High School, plays in the Washington National’s organization. He said he’s received some great advice along the way.

“You have to conquer every level and just move along,” Englund said. “I don’t want to take it too fast by trying to sign out of high school unless they give me something that I can’t say no to.”

Towey noted both players are very special. He said Boyd, a left-hander, can bring the ball to the plate with authority and has a quick pick-off move to first base. Englund is described as a hitter who can “create havoc” at the plate. All that said, Towey, a former minor league pitcher within the Seattle Mariner’s organization, is quick to provide his athletes some advice.

“For both of them, I recommend that they go to school,” he said, noting many athletes who go directly from high school to the minors fizzle out quickly. “The minor leagues are a grind.”

The Eastside duo is currently tearing up the Metro League. Englund is batting well over .300 with two home runs. Boyd has a 7-0 record with a 1.02 ERA and 71 strikeouts.

Future decisions are no doubt important to the pair, but the focus for Englund and Boyd lies on the coming week and the Metro playoffs. The Crusaders were ranked No. 1 in the Washington Baseball Poll for class 3A with a 14-3 record as of press time. Eastside Catholic was in a similar situation last season when it entered the league tournament with a 20-1 record, and lost two straight games to end its season.

“I think in some ways, last year all we did was just hit a bunch of home runs, we were never close in a game,” Englund said. “This year we’ve battled it out a few times … so I think that’s going to help us down the road when we have to come into those clutch situations.”

Boyd agreed, noting this year’s team has kept its focus on the task at hand.

“We definitely want to go farther than we did last year,” he said. “Everybody’s goal is to win state, you know? We’re just taking it one game at a time. It’s kind of been our motto this year.”

The first round of the Metro playoffs begin Monday May 11 with higher seeds hosting. The remainder of the games will take place, May 13-16 at the Southwest Seattle Athletic Complex.