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Laker baseball program breeds success at the next level

The Lake Oswego High School baseball program has not only been synonymous in recent years with winning league championships, it has also produced an impressive crop of players who have gone on to play collegiately and, in some cases, professionally.

It's an impressive crop, led by major league pitcher Mike Stutes.

Stutes led Lake Oswego to its first state title in baseball as the Lakers' ace and one of its better hitters. He had a successful college career at powerhouse Oregon State University and ended up being drafted into the Philadelphia Phillies farm system.

Stutes would eventually make the switch from starter to reliever and quickly moved up through the minors.

Stutes had a very strong 2011 campaign, going 6-2 with a 3.63 ERA. However, Stutes' shoulder flared up on him this season, causing him to miss most of the year and he underwent surgery in June.

Another one of Lake Oswego's former aces is in the middle of a strong college career. Tom Zarosinski started at Oregon State University but made the switch to George Fox prior to his sophomore year.

“George Fox was a little closer to home and still competitive baseball,” Zarosinksi said.

George Fox has been a very strong program in recent years and Zarosinski hopes to bounce back after somewhat of a struggle last season to be one of the team's most reliable arms.

“Last year was almost like having a year off. But I'm getting closer and I think things are going to start to fall into place,” Zarosinski said.

Zarosinski and former teammate Taylor Dunn figure to make up a fearsome one-two punch on the mound for the Bruins this season.

“We were kind of a package deal,” said Zarosinski of the pair's decision to transfer.

Dunn went 3-2 with a 3.17 ERA last year and walked just 17 batters in more than 65 innings.

Strong pitching has been a calling card for Lake Oswego's program over the years. The Lakers' most recent ace, Will Waterman, played alongside Zarosinski, Dunn and Brock Pellow before taking over as the team's Monday starter.

“I've seen a lot of good pitchers come through the program and had great coaching at every level,” Waterman said.

Pellow is currently playing at Western Nevada College and hopes to be one of the top arms for his team this year.

Waterman recently wrapped up an incredibly impressive senior campaign, putting up some of the best pitching numbers in the state.

He will attend Yavapai Junior College this fall with the hopes of moving up to a D-I school in the near future.

“I'd love to transfer back to the Northwest. My main focus right now is just to get a four-year degree,” Waterman said.

Waterman knows that playing at the collegiate level, particularly in a new climate like Arizona, will be an adjustment but he has been lauded over the years for his work ethic by Lake Oswego coach Jake Anders and hopes his efforts will continue to pay off.

Waterman was one of a handful of players from this year's team to move on to play college ball.

Tyler Campbell signed to play Division I ball with Vanderbilt. Campbell is one of the best hitting prospect to come through Lake Oswego's program in a number of years and has also been one of the slickest fielding shortstops in the state during his tenure with the Lakers.

Mikey Gallagher recently graduated and will attend Pacific next year and will play alongside his brother Austin.

Another former Laker, pitcher Jared Van Hoon, recently graduated from Pacific after a very strong career.

Van Hoon was a closer for Pacific and played shortstop and third base. He hit .305 in 2011 and also posted four saves and is now playing for the Colorado Sox in the Rocky Mountain Baseball League.

Pitcher Sam Lee rebounded from an injury to post strong second-half numbers for Lake Oswego during his senior year and will attend Redlands next year.

Grant Taylor will also play collegiately, the multi-sport standout signed to attend University of Portland this year. The outfielder was a key contributor for the Lakers' football team and was also one of the league's most consistent and feared hitters during his time on varsity.

Oregon colleges have benefitted greatly from Lake Oswego players. Pitcher Chad Kjemhus is a reliever for the University of Portland and will be joined by Taylor this year.

Nick Rulli is at Oregon State after hitting .323 at San Joaquin Delta College his freshman year and looks to make an impact for the Beavers this season.

Other players have gone on to make a name for themselves outside of Oregon.

Pitcher Tom Banta is a reliever for Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash. Taylor Sanders played at University of Nevada Reno and recently transferred to Chandler-Gilbert in Arizona.

Making a splash at the Division I level is Jeff Kremer, a standout nose tackle for the Lakers who is playing baseball at Duke. In 2011, Kremer played nearly every game for the Blue Devils as a catcher and designated hitter.

Kremer led the team with a .347 batting average and was an ACC Honor Roll Selection.

Michael Wesner recently graduated from North Florida University and will now look to continue his career playing professionally, perhaps in Australia.

Another Laker recently wrapped up his playing career. Zach Mandelblatt graduated from Pomona College in California where he pitched and played in the outfield.

Mandelblatt then went on to play in the Independent League, starting with the Orange County Fliers.

In 2011, Mandelblatt hit .298 and stole 22 bases but an injury set him back and Mandelblatt struggled in 2012 for the Joliet Slammers.

“It can be tough. You get three days off in 50 games which can be tough if you're in a slump or if you're injured,” Mandelblatt said.

He recently wrapped up his playing career and is moving back to the Northwest.

“It was very worthwhile. I got to travel and play baseball everyday. It definitely has its ups and downs. I played with the goal of getting better every year and this year that didn't happen. I knew it was a longshot and I'm happy to have gotten to play as long as I did,” Mandelblatt said.

Lake Oswego continues to churn out high-quality players and will enter the 2013 season with a handful of individuals looking to play at the next level.




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