WIAA 3A State Baseball Tournament Yakima Regional Preview

3A State Baseball Regional: Yakima Region

This region features three of the top ten baseball teams in the state of Washington. It is in my mind the second toughest tournament. In order to advance to the state finals, teams must win two games on Saturday; their first round game and defeat the winner of the other game played in this region. See our breakdown of each team and who advances to Pasco from the Yakima Region after the jump!!

 All Games are played on May 19, 2012

Game 1: Hazen vs. Kennewick, County Stadium (Yakima) 10:00 a.m.

Hazen (15-7) Hazen comes into this matchup as the only team unranked in this region. They do have one of the best players in the state; 1B, P Zac Kolterman. Kolterman has not made a decision where he will play next year, but he does hold an offer from New Mexico University. He also played in ESPN’s Area’s Code Baseball Games, been clocked at 89 mph pitching. The senior is the 3A Seamont Most Valuable Player and will most likely make the 1st team All-State. Other than that, Hazen doesn’t have that much talent. If they are going to win this game, they must out hit Kennewick today.  Notable wins: Peninsula, and Enumclaw. Tournament history: This program has never made it to state, and the last time they made regionals was in 2008.

Kennewick (18-7) This team is the best team and are the favorites in this region. They are also ranked No. 3 in state. Kennewick’s best player is Treck Stemp. Stemp will play next year at Washington State University and is considered the state’s fourth best player. The senior is batting .506 this season with 44 hits and 21 runs batted in. Other players to keep your eye on are catcher JJ Hancock (.420 19 runs batted in.), 1B Jarod Gonzales (.411, 30 hits and 20 runs batted in). Kennewick are a hitting machine and will give Hazen problems with their dominate performance at the plate. Notable wins: (Mount Si., Mt. Spokane, Kamiakin). Tournament history: Kennewick has not returned to the state tournament, since 2008 where they won it all.

Prediction: Kennewick 6-2

Game 2: Kamiakin vs. Mt. Spokane, County Stadium (Yakima), 1:00 p.m. UPSET ALERT

Kamiakin (18-6): Ranked No. 9th in the state and are the second best team in this region. Key players to watch are, Jesse Howser (29 hits, 22 RBI’s), Nolan Earley (16 hits, 12 RBI’s), pitcher David Marshall (1.78 era). Kamiakin’s biggest strength is their hitting. Being in the state finals last year, this team does have experience and gives them the confidence to handle such an exciting moment. Their hitting should lead them over Mt. Spokane today.  Notable wins: West Valley, Kennewick. Tournament history: Last year this team made state; placed 4th after losing to Camas.

Mt. Spokane (17-7): After talking with Spokesman writer Mike Vlahovich, I have a better understanding of what this team is about. Mt. Spokane has had to deal with the loss of their star pitcher, Kelly Fitzpatrick (Committed to Washington State University) this year. Key players to watch are Garnett Hoffnagle who is the best pitcher on this team (4-0, 1.38 era), Tucker Sanford (.345), and Tyler Huck (.340, 15 RBI’s). Mt. Spokane has the advantage in pitching and could win this game if Hoffnagle gives them a strong game today. Don’t be surprised if Mt. Spokane pulls off the upset tomorrow. Notable wins: Mt. Spokane did defeat Kamiakin in the playoffs this year. Tournament history: Made regionals in 2007 and did not make it to state. Prediction: Kamiakin 4-1

Who’s going to Pasco?

If the games play out like I predicted it to be, then Kennewick will face Kamiakin in the finals of this region at around 4:00 p.m. the same day (Saturday May 19, 2012). I like Kennewick in this game due to the outstanding and explosive offense attack they have had this year, plus their resume of wins shows that they are a tough team to defeat. I expect this game to be a high scoring game. Prediction: Kennewick 7-5 (Winner of Yakima Region, Advances to Pasco for the state finals)

–Evan Baron (BaselineBaron09)