Eastlake relaxed, ready for state baseball showdown with Kentridge | Prep sports news

The 4A KingCo champs take their act to Kent for the first round of the state tournament against the Chargers from the SPSL

Who: Eastlake (14-9, 10-7 4A KingCo)  VS. Kentridge (17-8, 13-3 South Puget Sound League)

When: 1 p.m. May 24

Where: Art Wright Field, 850 Central Ave. N., Kent

What’s at stake: A spot in the 4A state quarterfinals, and an afternoon game against Lake Stevens or South Kitsap

From the dugout

Eastlake head coach Kevin Agnew said he expects Kentridge to bring lefty Sam Dacus, the team’s leader in every significant statistical category, to the mound in the opener.

The senior sports a 5-2 mark on the year in 13 appearances, with 52 innings and two-thirds under his belt and a 1.46 earned run average.

“He’s a typical soft lefty that is going to throw a lot of breaking stuff,” Agnew said. “If we can stay within ourselves and not get frustrated the first time through the order, we will be able to go out and compete.”

Players to watch for

Eastlake: Mick Vorhof, SR., Pitcher

The ace of the Wolves’ pitching staff can match stats with anyone, including his likely counterpart in Dacus.

Vorhof has a barely believable 1.11 ERA in 63 innings pitched, and has posted 66 strikeouts against only 15 walks.

Agnew said against a powerful Kentridge lineup that includes multiple players taller than six-feet, Vorhof’s ability to spot his breaking ball will be critical.

“Mick’s got about a good a breaking pitch as I’ve seen,” Agnew said. “That is going to be a big piece of success: locating that breaking ball and getting ahead of hitters.”

Kentridge: Joe Wainhouse, SR., 1B/Pitcher

The Chargers have no shortage of capable bats, and senior Joe Wainhouse leads the charge.

Along with a .370 batting average, Wainhouse has 35 RBIs, 27 runs scored and 10 home runs, including a pair of multi-homer games.

But don’t expect the Wolves to be in awe of Kentwood’s sluggers, especially after nearly facing games with postseason intensity since late April.

“I don’t think our kids are going to be intimidated,” Agnew said, noting many of his regulars have faced Kentridge players in summer baseball leagues and tournaments. “They know what they are up against.”

Inside corner

The day before his team won its opener at the 4A KingCo tournament, the first of three straight postseason wins to claim the conference championship, Eastlake baseball coach Kevin Agnew knew he had to keep his team loose.

So rather than taking swings in the batting cage, he had his wolves trade in their bats for paddles, and sent them off the diamond.

“We just played ping-pong,” he said of his team’s final practice before a three-game KingCo tournament run that has set the stage for an even greater postseason opportunity. “We’ve tried to keep them loose.”

Eastlake played like the most comfortable team on the field throughout three impressive conference tourney wins, and Agnew said the feeling around the clubhouse is what you would expect of a team on a hot streak and rewriting school history.

“They feel like they’re champions,” he said. “They’ve played well in big situations, and they are feeling good about that.”

Should the Wolves advance, or if the first game of the day goes the way of the offenses, Agnew is confident Connor Graham and Mason Pierzchalski can also play a large role on the mound.

Graham picked up the win in an impressive effort in the winner-to-state semifinals of the KingCo tournament, and Pierzchalski has allowed only six runs in 18 innings of relief, while posting six saves.

Agnew said he expects another collected effort from a group that has faced nothing but pressure for the past month.

“We haven’t played any games that haven’t counted,” he said. “I think that means something.”