North Thurston’s Ryan Mets, bound for Oregon State, leads Olympian All-Area baseball team

Staff writerJune 24, 2014 

  • The Olympian’s All-Area baseball team

    P Ryan Mets, North Thurston, senior

    Mets, the 3A Narrows MVP who will pitch at Oregon State next season, struck out 134 batters in 72 innings. Also hit .308 with 18 RBIs, leading Rams to the league title.

    P Leif Hansen, Olympia, senior

    Had one of the 4A Narrows League’s lowest ERAs (1.34) over 41 innings. Also hit .333 with 19 hits over 22 games.

    P Matt Mercer, Timberline, junior

    The Blazers’ ace, the 3A Narrows pitching co-MVP, throws high heat. Held opponents to a .133 batting average with 87 strikeouts over 49 innings.

    P Riley Storedahl, North Thurston, senior

    3A Narrows pitching co-MVP had a breakout season, striking out 83 batters in 561/3 innings, helping the Rams to a regional berth.

    C Brennon Kaleiwahea, Timberline, senior

    With a .990 fielding percentage, Kaleiwahea also threw out all 11 runners who tried to steal on him. Hit .368 and his 26 RBIs tied for team-high.

    IF Justin Graham, Tumwater, senior

    The engine that kept the T-Birds’ infield going. Despite a late-season hand injury, still played in the field and finished the season hitting a team-best .421 and was 15-for-16 on stolen-base attempts.

    IF Ryan Jones, Black Hills, junior

    Mobile infielder with patience at the plate. Held a .913 fielding percentage in 126 total chances and also hit .420 in 2A EvCo play, leading Wolves to the District IV tournament.

    IF Ty Housden, Centralia, senior

    2A EvCo’s leader in doubles (13) hit .370 in a split role between middle infielder and pitcher. Had a 4-3 record with six saves as a pitcher.

    IF Luke Hare, Tumwater, senior

    One of the T-Birds’ leading hitters (.406 average) at third base also had a 6-1 record with a 1.36 ERA over 36 innings as a pitcher.

    OF Garrett Terrell, Tumwater, senior

    2A EvCo’s MVP hit .310 with 27 hits and also had a 9-1 record with a 1.21 ERA, leading the T-Birds to their second consecutive state trophy.

    OF Hayden Maliska, North Thurston, senior

    First year as Rams’ full-time rcenter fielder made tough fielding plays look easy. His bat came alive, too, as he hit safely in 17 of final 19 games with 20 runs scored.

    OF Blake Nystrom, Timberline, senior

    Blazers right fielder didn’t commit an error in 25 games, pounded out 26 hits, and made the most of his .528 on-base percentage, scoring 20 runs.

    DH Tanner Gueller, W.F. West, senior

    Bearcats catcher had 16 extra-base hits — 12 doubles, four home runs — and drove in 26 runs.

    Utility Dustin Wilson, Rochester, senior

    When not pitching — he had a 11-2 record — Wilson was behind the plate as the Warriors’ catcher. Hit .425 with seven triples.

    Coach of the year: Craig Gregory, Shelton

    mwochnick@theolympian.com

Pitcher Ryan Mets turned in many impressive performances during his high school career at North Thurston, but his first varsity start as a freshman in 2011 was not one of them.

Mets, The Olympian’s All-Area Baseball Player of the Year headed for Oregon State, credits that first start of 11/3 innings — eight earned runs on seven hits in an 11-1 loss to Aberdeen — as a turning point.

After the game, coach Lance Baker demoted Mets to junior varsity. It’s a decision Mets now fully supports because it made him realize that it would take more than physical talent to get batters out. Mets said he became more dedicated in the weight room and to preparing mentally.

“Who would’ve thought that was the perfect scenario for me to be the best player I can be?” Mets said. “I owe a lot to (Baker). My mental approached totally changed. It became so much more than a game.”

This year, Mets played the game at an elite level, helping the Rams win the 3A Narrows League title and earn a berth into the 3A regionals for the third straight year. He compiled a 1.75 ERA in 72 innings, struck out 134 and hit .308 with 18 RBIs. He was named the 3A Narrows League MVP.

While Baker said it’s uncertain where Mets’ single-season strikeout number ranks in program history, he noted no other player he coached at North Thurston had as many strikeouts in a season as Mets.

“He’s grown up from a young boy into a young man in four years,” said Baker, who recently resigned after nine seasons coaching the Rams.

While pitching in front of major league scouts in almost every start, Mets threw a no-hitter, posted double-digit strikeouts in six games, and did not give up an earned run in 11 of the 12 league games.

Mets, known for his curveball and a high-80 mph fastball, said he thrives on pressure.

“I’d rather have the ball in my court than someone else,” Mets said.

Olympia coach Steve Roth said Mets’ competitive nature is what elevates him. He got a firsthand look at Mets during an all-state feeder game at Bellarmine Prep a week after the season ended.

One play in particular stood out. Mets made an impressive unassisted, inning-ending double play at first base.

“He knows every aspect of the game,” Roth said. “He’s a top-tier kid who has the motor ... and has so much upside.”

Mets joins an Oregon State program that won back-to-back College World Series titles in 2006-07, and has produced 64 major league draftees, including 31 pitchers.

Baker said as long as Mets remains healthy, the potential is endless.

“Look out when he gets into that age of 20-years-old,” he said.

 

Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 mwochnick@theolympian.com theolympian.com/southsoundsports @MegWochnick

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