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Eagles flying high into playoffs

by: Vern Uyetake, 
Josh Britton fields a ground ball during a recent home game. The Eagles are ranked sixth in the state with only one loss in league this year.

Westside Christian High School finished its 2008 regular season in baseball just short of perfection.

Now the Eagles are gearing up for the state playoffs, beginning on Tuesday at their home field Westlake Park at 3:30 p.m.

'We feel we're really playing well with our core of experienced players,' said coach Adam Sarancik. 'That is something we can rely on in the playoffs. We're pretty excited about our chances.'

Westside is entering the postseason on a high tide. The Eagles are 15-1, ranked sixth in the state in the Class 3A Coaches Poll, and have wrapped up the West Valley League championship.

They would have gone 16-0 had it not been for a 14-13 defeat against Valley Catholic, and Westside avenged that lone loss with a 12-1 triumph last Friday. Westside finished well ahead of runner-up Dayton, which went 12-4.

By winning the league, the Eagles earned a first round bye in the playoffs, which will allow some extra rest for their strong pitching staff.

Westside will have lots of hitting, pitching, depth and experience to throw at their playoff opponents. That is shown by their domination of the West Valley League all-star team.

Honored Eagles include:

n Zach Renicker, first team pitcher, 6-1 record, 2 saves.

n Nate Mays, first team catcher, second in average at .588, first in home runs with four.

n Michael Rose, second team second baseman, hit .395, led in on-base percentage at .697.

n Josh Britton, first team infielder, four-year starter at shortstop.

n Brandon Bray, first team outfielder, batted .317, went 5-0 with perfect 0.00 ERA as pitcher.

n Scott Moyer, second team outfielder, batted team-leading .618, had slugging percentage of 1.176.

n Ryan Herd, honorable mention outfielder, despite battling injuries this season, batted .429.

There is a distinct possibility the Eagles could host number one ranked Vale in a second round playoff game, which would be a tough task.

But Sarancik said, 'We're not looking past the first round. All of the games are going to be tough.'

The Eagles have achieved steady progress in Sarancik's three seasons as coach, going 8-6 in his first year and 10-4 in 2007, in which they made the state quarterfinals.