Kyle Gruber’s one-hitter keeps Lakeside Recovery rolling
June 18, 2013
By Neil Pierson
Kyle Gruber hasn’t played varsity baseball for Skyline High School yet, but if he keeps doing what he did June 13, coach Chris Tamminen won’t be able to hold him back.
Gruber needed only 75 pitches to throw a complete-game one-hitter, leading Lakeside Recovery to a 5-0 victory against the West Seattle Indians in a Double-A American Legion game at Skyline.
Gruber didn’t try out for high-school ball as a freshman, but he showed what he’s capable of this spring for the Spartans’ junior varsity team. Tamminen, who coaches Lakeside Recovery and the Skyline varsity team, has been impressed.
“He’ll be a junior next year, so he’ll maybe get a chance to play varsity,” Tamminen said. “We’ll see — you never know whether kids get better or stay the same. He has a good demeanor out there, though, and he competes, so I like to see that.”
The only thing that kept Gruber from a no-hitter was a fourth-inning double. He struck out five batters, walked one and hit one. Along with an above-average fastball, Gruber features a pitch not typically seen from teenagers — a knuckle curve.
“My brother started throwing it, and then he taught me, so I just kept throwing it and I developed,” Gruber said.
Lakeside gave Gruber all the offensive support he’d need in the second inning. Colin Huber drilled a two-out double to right field, scoring Matt Sarkozy and Jake Partlow.
Sarkozy padded the lead an inning later with a two-run triple, then slid into home plate and knocked the ball away from West Seattle’s catcher for the game’s final run.
Sarkozy, a junior-to-be at Issaquah High School, guessed correctly on his big hit.
“It was a 1-2 count, and I knew he was going to throw me something off-speed,” Sarkozy said. “I was waiting back and he hung a curveball, and I hit it out to the left-field gap.”
Lakeside played strong defense behind Gruber, committing only one error. Catcher Jonathan Criest threw out two would-be base stealers.
The squad’s all-around play has improved recently, and its record has improved to 8-8 following a four-game winning streak.
“We just kind of fixed some stuff up,” Sarkozy said. “We’re hitting better and making better decisions, and our pitching has gotten a lot better.”
Lakeside’s roster is comprised of Skyline, Issaquah and Newport students, so it’s taken time to develop chemistry. That and other distractions, like spring football drills and graduation, have caused a lot of fluctuations in Tamminen’s lineup.
“I think we’re getting an idea. We’re getting a little better,” the coach said. “We have an idea just as far as getting our batting order and getting guys that haven’t pitched that much for school ball pitching for us, because we know we’ve got to rely on them playing a bunch of games.”
A couple base-running errors kept Lakeside from adding more runs against West Seattle, and that’ll be a focus as the team tries to earn a district-tournament berth in late July.
“That can end up killing you, so hopefully we clean those up,” Tamminen said. “The kids are just being a little overaggressive trying to make something happen.”
Like their teammates, Sarkozy and Gruber hope playing with a Legion team during the summer will help their chances with their respective high schools in 2014.
I need to “get better at hitting and work on going to the opposite field, especially when I’m down in the count,” Sarkozy said, “and then work on my throwing, being able to be a sure-thing first baseman defensively.”
“Hopefully, next year I’ll make varsity,” Gruber said. “I need to gain some muscle and start working out.”