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BASEBALL PREVIEW: Beamer pitching should take Titans a long way; FW, TJ, Decatur also solid
Pitching, pitching and more pitching. That's the definition of the Todd Beamer baseball team this season.
The 2012 edition of the Titans feature an impressive group of four starting pitchers who will win a lot of games for Beamer. Matt Bower, Brett Oyer, Richie Apigo and Scott Sunitsch could make up the best pitching staff in the South Puget Sound League South Division.
Entering Wednesday, Beamer pitchers had given up a grand total of three runs in six games during their 5-1 start. Two of the runs came during a 2-0 loss to the No. 1-ranked Puyallup Vikings, who are the favorites to win the SPSL South.
But the Titans aren't far behind. Beamer finished 11-8 in the South a season ago and bring back a bulk of the players that led them into the postseason.
Leading the list is senior left-hander Bower, who has already signed a letter of intent to play at the University of Washington.
As a junior, Bower ended up with a 4-4 record and a 3.90 earned-run average. He struck out 46 in 37 2/3 innings for the Titans.
Also back are Oyer and junior Jarred Prather. Oyer was a first-team, All-SPSL South selection as a shortstop after hitting .348 with 11 runs, five RBIs, one triple and four stolen bases for the Titans. Oyer, a senior, was also 2-0 with a 1.62 earned-run average and 22 strikeouts on the mound.
Prather finished with a .341 batting average and scored 11 runs. He had one home run, two doubles, six RBIs and also stole two bases during the 15 games he played during the SPSL regular season.
Also returning for head coach Jerry Peterson are seniors Sam Kosbab (OF, P), Apigo (3B, P) and Dallin Havili (1B, P), juniors Daniel Lee (OF) and Jaden Sawyer (Util.) and sophomores Lawyer Braun (OF) and Scott Sunitsch.
Kosbab, Havili and Braun have been leading the Titan offense during the early season. The trio have combined to knock in 20 runs.
"It would be a great year with our pitching and defense," Peterson said. "If our offense develops, we should compete for a top seed in our division."
The Federal Way Eagles baseball program hasn't really had to rebuild in the last couple years. Last season, the Eagles and head coach Danny Graham had an impressive group of seniors who won plenty of games during their time at Federal Way.
However, stalwarts like Nick Tanielu, Austin Weber, Drew Cratsenberg and Brett Evans graduated last spring after leading the Eagles to the postseason the last two years. This year, Graham will be counting on plenty of newcomers to keep the Eagles in the mix, including juniors Evan Elliot and Ryan George, along with freshman Riley Cratsenberg.
The Eagles do return a pair of All-SPSL players in senior Darrien Moran and junior Chris Shimer.
Moran had a very impressive all-around season last year, finishing second on the team with a .442 batting average and led the team by scoring 18 runs. Moran had 10 RBIs, six doubles and stole five bases. Moran also led the SPSL South with 18 walks. On the mound, the left-hander finished a perfect 4-0 during the SPSL season with a 2.08 earned-run average. He struck out 35 in 30 1/3 innings of work and walked only nine.
Shimer, a second baseman, was a defensive wizard in the middle infield for Federal Way. He finished third in the SPSL South in doubles with six, struck out only once during the regular season in 36 at bats and was also hit by a pitch four times. Shimer finished with a .389 average and also scored 11 runs and drove in nine.
Also back is junior Derek Klaas, who will play shortstop and help Moran and the rest of the pitching staff.
"If we play good defense and throw strikes, this will give us our best chance at winning," Graham said. "I don't think we will outscore many people. If we can't make the routine plays defensively, we will lose more than we win."
Joseph Townsend brings back plenty of talent from a team that finished 7-12 a year ago. Jefferson is 3-1 in the early season and should be a factor in the rugged SPSL North Division.
"We have very good team speed and senior leadership," said Townsend. "We are deep in pitching and should be solid on defense."
The Raiders bring back senior first baseman/pitcher Steven Sonnenfeld, along with sophomore shortstop Niko DelaCruz. Sonnenfeld hit .457 and led TJ with 21 hits, 17 RBIs, four home runs and 15 runs scored.
Jefferson also brings back one of the best pure athletes in the state in senior K.W. Williams. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder led the TJ football team to the playoffs for the first time in school history in the fall and won a state wrestling championship in the winter. Last season, he hit .396 with 17 RBIs, two home runs and a triple.
Townsend will also be counting on newcomers Travis McCauley (Pitcher), Hunter Henry (3B) and Mark Fitzgerald (1B,P).
"We go hard 90 all the time, because hustle never fails," said Townsend. "If the young men live and play by this quote we will be successful. If not, our lack of focus and play-hard-all-the-time attitude will fail."
The Gators and first-year head coach Korey Sites are hoping for an improvement this season. Last year, Decatur finished 6-14 in the SPSL 3A Division, but return plenty of experience.
Leading the list are junior Derik Bontempo and sophomore Brandon Zimmerman. As a sophomore, Bontempo led the Gators with a .467 average and had two home runs, two doubles, seven RBIs and slugged .733 as an outfielder. Zimmerman, a second baseman, hit .321 with a double, 10 RBIs and six stolen bases and was voted the most valuable player of the Gators by the players.
Also returning for Decatur are senior Brett Johnson (OF, P), junior Michael Ciotta (Catcher) and sophomores Chris Carns (SS, P) and Janson Junk (OF, P). Newcomers Jason Wiley (IF), James Marshall (OF, P) and Kenny Sheedy (IF, P) will also provide depth.
"I expect us to be competitive every day and against any team," Sites said. "The only way to reach that expectation is to take things on a pitch-by-pitch basis and not worry about past or future experiences. We have the talent and ability to play hard, aggressive baseball. I really like who we have, but we need to mature a little bit if we are going to have postseason success."