Duo deliver state berth to KL

Regular season or postseason.

Regular season or postseason.

It really doesn’t matter to Kentlake’s Zach Wright and Miles Nagel.

No matter the time of year, the Falcons’ unflappable duo is going to produce. And they did just that last Saturday afternoon at Kent Memorial Park, leading the Falcons past Beamer in a Class 4A West Central District baseball game, 16-6.

The sophomore Wright delivered five strong innings on the mound, allowing one run on six hits and striking out four. Nagel, a junior, came through with the bat, going 3 for 4 with a pair of long doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored.

“Me and him are like the calmest people on the team,” said Nagel, Kentlake’s hot-swinging designated hitter. “We just stick to our own business.”

And on Saturday, that business meant earning a state berth, which the Falcons accomplished for the first time since 2005 and just the second time in school history.

Kentlake did it behind an explosive offensive performance and the usual steady pitching of Wright, who just a week earlier, helped the Falcons beat Puyallup, 4-3, for the South Puget Sound League title.

“I like pitching the big games,” said Wright, who needed just 72 pitches to work through five innings and also rang up a solo home run in the fourth inning. “I’ve just been doing it for a long time.”

With the win, the Falcons (17-4) will move on to the regional portion of the state tournament. Kentlake opens play at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Kent Memorial Park against Battle Ground, the No. 2 seed from the SeaKing-Southwest Bi-District tournament.

Virtually everyone on Kentlake’s roster delivered something against Beamer. The Falcons pounded out 14 hits, getting at least one from everyone in the starting lineup. In addition, every starter in the lineup — if they didn’t have a courtesy runner come in — scored at least one run.

“We just got on a roll where the ball looked like a basketball coming at you. It’s huge,” Kentlake coach Jason Evans said. “I think they’re just in a zone right now.

“We’ve just got an unbeatable confidence right now, and the kids know they can get it done.”

They certainly did get it done last Saturday, particularly Wright and Nagel.

Wright cruised through the first three innings unscathed, allowing the Falcons’ offense to jump on Beamer starting pitcher Kelvin Ketchum early. Kentlake pounced to a quick 4-0 first-inning lead, keyed by a two-run double from Matt Smith.

Andy Enders pushed that lead to 5-0 in the second, singling with one out, then moving to second and third on wild pitches before coming home on a sacrifice bunt by Marcus Evans.

Beamer cut the deficit to 5-1 in the top of the fourth on an RBI-single to center field from Jacob Thielman.

Kentlake added three more runs in the bottom half of that inning, highlighted by Nagel’s RBI double off the left-center fence, giving the Falcons an 8-1 lead and essentially putting the game away.

It was a typical calm performance from both Wright and Nagel, Jason Evans noted.

“They haven’t all year,” Evans said. “As a coach, you want to see more fire and more enthusiasm knowing they’re ready to go and you just don’t get it.

“But after knowing these guys all year … I just know if they give me a head nod, they’re ready to go. They don’t come to the field not prepared.”

No matter the time of season.


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