Kentwood Conquerors bring home the 4A baseball championship | Slide Show
June 2, 2010 · 7:58 PM
Avery Kain may not be the ace of the Kentwood High baseball team.
But Saturday night at Safeco Field in the biggest game of his life, Kain certainly pitched like an ace.
Kentwood’s 6-foot-5 righthander allowed just two hits and struck out four in a complete-game gem, leading the Conquerors past the Bombers 8-0 for the Class 4A state championship.
How good was Kain?
The big guy needed just 74 pitches to complete the shutout. Kain mowed through the Bombers in the first inning on just six pitches, delivered 12 more in the second, 13 in the third and eight in the fourth.
When it was all said and done, Kain had helped the Conquerors secure their first state baseball title since 2000. And it took him just 1-hour, 39-minutes to accomplish the feat.
“I think that might have been the best game I have ever thrown,” said Kain, a junior who has been the team’s No. 2 pitcher behind Austin Voth most of the season. “It was definitely easier today than it has been. I had a lot more command, pitches were moving for me. I could just work batters with all my pitches.”
In ace-like fashion, too.
“I think we have two number-one pitchers,” said Kentwood shortstop Bryant VanEngelenburg, who collected two hits, two runs scored and an RBI in the championship victory.
Kain cruised through the Bombers in order in the first, third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings. On his final pitch of the evening, Kain induced a relatively sharp ground ball to third baseman Matt Bell, who delivered a bolt to first baseman Voth for the final out.
Kain then was pig piled on the mound by the entire Kentwood roster.
“That’s the best feeling in the world. I got crushed a little bit,” said Kain, who already has committed to play at Washington State University. “I had a feeling it was going to happen. When it finally happens, you don’t feel anything. It’s pure bliss. Just awesome.”
The Conquerors gave Kain all he would need in the opening inning. Zach Corpuz led off the inning with a sharply hit ground ball that squirted through the legs of Richland shortstop Syd Hall. JT Evenson bunted Corpuz to second and VanEngelenburg quickly followed with an RBI single up the middle, giving the Conquerors a 1-0 lead.
Richland didn’t find the hit column until the third inning, when Corey Morris legged out an infield single. Kentwood catcher Taylor White, who threw out a pair of base runners on Friday night in the semifinals, nailed Morris attempting to steal.
Kentwood broke the game open with a five-run third inning, highlighted by a two-run double down the left-field line by Kain. Bell and Cash McGuire also had RBI singles in the inning.
With a comfortable lead in hand, Kain proceeded to retire seven straight batters leading into the sixth inning, when Richland mounted its lone rally of the game. Kain hit Hall with the pitch to lead off the inning. Michael Dunford followed with a single through the right side, pushing Hall to third with no outs.
That’s as close as the Bombers would get to scoring. Third baseman Bell nailed Hall at the plate on a ground ball. Kain then collected his third strikeout of the game before inducing a lazy flyball out to right field.
“Avery has the ability to command the zone and throw as well as anybody we have,” said Kentwood coach Jon Aarstad. “He’s kind of figured it out the last two weeks, honed in his accuracy and gone right after guys.”
The Conquerors added a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth to ice the victory. Jordan Harris delivered an RBI single to left that scored VanEngelenburg. White followed with a fielder’s choice out to third base that scored Voth.
The win helped the Conquerors end where they envisioned they would be when the season began.
“We knew what we could do and we came out and did it,” said Kain.