Veteran leadership could spell success for Wolves baseball

March 11, 2014

By Neil Pierson

Over the course of Kevin Agnew’s three-year tenure at Eastlake High School, the baseball program has steadily built itself into a winning product.

Agnew’s first season in 2011 saw the Wolves win only one conference game. The next year, they finished one win shy of a playoff berth. And last year, Eastlake reached the Class 4A KingCo Conference playoffs, and would have advanced to state if it weren’t for a one-run loss to Bothell.

“It was great for them to get that experience,” Agnew said, “and I think these kids, they understand what’s expected of them. They’ve got another year of playing under their belt, and I think they’re going to be ready to go, and they’re going to play hard.”

Having several starters return from last season’s team should benefit Eastlake. Among the veteran leaders are Mick Vorhof, a senior pitcher/shortstop, and Mason Pierzchalski, a senior who was a second-team, all-conference first baseman in 2013 but could play one of several positions in 2014.

“We have guys with playoff experience, and I think that’s kind of the reason we didn’t get where we wanted last year,” Pierzchalski said. “We kind of went in without the experience, and this year, we’ve got it.”

Pitching should be one of the team’s tangible strengths. Vorhof is the likely No. 1 pitcher, but seniors Max Escarda and Connor Graham will also see plenty of innings.

“I think Mick is one of the better pitchers coming back in our league this year,” Agnew said. “He was a first-team (all-conference) utility player last year – he had three or four saves; he had three or four wins.”

Vorhof said the Wolves should score their fair share of runs, too. He’s good at getting on base and could set the table for others from the No. 1 or No. 2 position in the batting order.

Eastlake lost senior Austin Hooker, its leadoff hitter and center fielder, to a shoulder injury. To fill the void, Agnew expects sophomore Nathan Mano to step up. Fellow sophomore Mark Whitley should help out at shortstop when Vorhof pitches, and seniors Kirk Boe and Mitch Augenstein return to solidify the infield.

Catcher is the only position in limbo, with two players expected to battle for the starter’s job through the nonconference schedule, Agnew said.

Senior Carson Iraola and junior Jeffrey Feinglas are among the returning players who should contribute, along with newcomers Jackson Dahl and Ryan Frizelle.

Versatility should be a team strength, and it says something that Pierzchalski isn’t sure which position he’ll play with the season opener at West Valley (Yakima) looming March 14.

“We’ve got guys that are willing to play multiple spots, and can play multiple spots, so we have a lot of depth on what we can do as a team,” Pierzchalski said.

“I think our team is pretty confident,” Vorhof added. “We had a good year last year, really stepped it up, and we’ve got a lot of guys returning, so we’re excited to get going, get on track again.”

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