Earning a trip to Yakima for this weekend’s All-State Baseball Series takes individual achievement and a truckload of it.
Put up huge numbers from March to May.
Get selected for a feeder game and shine.
Then be nominated and, finally, selected.
It’s all you. Except with this year’s All-State Series there’s a notable theme running through this group of 76 elite seniors from across the state and from all sizes of high schools.
The doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday at Yakima Valley College’s Parker Faller Field will feature 11 sets of teammates and one — Skyline — that has three players together on Team St. Helens.
Perhaps the most interesting pairing isn’t with high school buddies but with two players who are spending the summer together playing for the Yakima Valley Pippins before heading off to Stanford.
Davis’ Henry Gargus, this year’s Washington State Baseball Coaches Association player of the year, will take the field in Saturday’s first eight-inning game at noon for Team Baker. He will be up against Team Adams and future Cardinal teammate Owen Cobb, a shortstop from Garfield.
Later in the day, Gargus and Cobb will suit up for the Pippins’ West Coast League game against Wenatchee. Cobb is already off to a blazing start for the Pippins, going 7 for 13 with a double, triple, home run, five runs scored and six RBI in two games at Ridgefield and an exhibition contest.
Gargus, a two-time CBBN player of the year who committed to Stanford two years ago, will be making his Pippins debut this weekend.
BULLDOG BATTERY: Ellensburg’s Tyler Polacek and Jadon Bugni will get that special teammate experience on Team Rainier, which plays in Saturday’s second game at 3:30 p.m.
Not just teammates but batterymates, Polacek and Bugni graduated on Thursday and these two definitely deserve a little more pitch and catch.
Polacek was instrumental in the Bulldogs’ back-to-back 2A state titles, earning the win in the championship game as a sophomore and throwing a three-hit shutout in last year’s semifinals. Bugni, a catcher headed to WSU, batted .458 over his last two seasons with 12 home runs and 66 RBI.
CHIEFS ENCORE: Moses Lake’s charge to the Class 4A state championship, the program’s first in 38 years, was indeed a family affair and Team Adams will feel a lot like that, too.
Evan McLean and Dominic Signorelli will represent the Chiefs, who defeated Olympia 5-3 for the title, and they’ll spend the weekend here playing for the Moses Lake coaching staff, which includes Signorelli’s dad.
McLean threw a perfect game in the state semifinals, beating Skyview 3-0 with 12 strikeouts. He finished 9-0 with a 0.35 ERA.
Signorelli, who received the CBBN player of the year award in 2018 to split Gargus’ two honors, is headed to Boise State, which is fielding a program next spring for the first time in 40 years. He’ll be joined by two other All-State picks — Stuart Flesland of Mt. Spokane and Torin Montgomery of Lake Washington.
FUTURE WILDCATS: Ben Williams of Tonasket and JJ Lemming of Steilacoom will play together on Team St. Helens this weekend before both move on to Central Washington University.
But in different sports.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Lemming had a solid spring as a pitcher and first baseman but football is his future. He’s ready to join a deep pool of young quarterbacks at CWU after throwing for over 8,000 yards and 94 touchdowns as a two-time league MVP for the Sentinels.
Williams threw a no-hitter this spring with an immaculate inning.
Also on the local recruiting front, Yakima Valley College signed two All-State picks as Arlington’s Cameron Smith and Brewster’s Joe Taylor will both get a good look at their new home field this weekend.
PARKER REVISITED: Almira-Coulee-Hartline’s Dalton Kentner (Team Adams) will know his way around Parker Faller Field since he made a surprise visit here two weeks ago. And it went very well.
Kentner threw a two-hitter with seven strikeouts and swatted a two-run double in a 10-0 victory over Odessa in the 1B state championship, which was originally scheduled for Centralia but was moved to Yakima since two eastside teams made the final. He finished the season 12-0 with 122 strikeouts.
WATKINS HEADED TO HALL: Merle Watkins of Kittitas will be in the induction class at Saturday’s Hall of Fame banquet, which will be held at the Yakima Convention Center starting at 7 p.m.
Watkins was the head coach at Kittitas for 23 seasons and produced 15 state appearances and 304 career wins. Rex Ashmore and Kevin Heimbigner will also be inducted.
Also at the banquet, Selah’s Mike Archer, a member of the 2015 Hall of Fame class, will receive the Dave Johnson Coach of the Year award (2A-1A schools).
AROUND THE BASES: Will Simpson, part of the Skyline trio playing on Team St. Helens, was drafted earlier this week by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 18th round. Montgomery and Cobb were drafted in the 35th and 37th rounds, respectively. ... Asotin pitcher Devin Fry (Team Baker) earned two of his 11 wins in the 2B state tournament, which saw the Panthers allow just one run en route to the title. ... University Prep’s Gus Coluccio (Team Adams) celebrated the 1A state title with his team at Yakima County Stadium, an unlikely run that required the Pumas to win three loser-out district games. ... Wahkiakum’s Luke Brown (Team St. Helens) was a five-year all-league pick for the Mules, who were allowed to use eighth-graders in 2015 because of low enrollment.