Resilient Rivals finish tough baseball season

By Gary Zambor & Brian MacKenzie
Posted 6/5/24


East Jefferson’s high school baseball team struggled to find wins, but built toward a brighter future for the program.

EJ’s season dawned with promise as nearly 30 …

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Resilient Rivals finish tough baseball season



East Jefferson’s high school baseball team struggled to find wins, but built toward a brighter future for the program.

EJ’s season dawned with promise as nearly 30 Chimacum and Port Townsend boys turned out, enabling the program to field both varsity and junior varsity teams.

The Rivals stumbled out of the gate, losing their first four games, but Head Coach Ben Lozano described his team as “resilient,” and his steadiness reassured his players.

"It was a huge jump from last year playing on JV with Ben and having him as a coach,” said Sawyer Ziel, a Port Townsend junior. “When I made my varsity debut, it made me feel more relaxed having him there, like I had nothing to worry about at the plate. He kept reminding me to breathe and keep a steady hand and I did exactly that." In the course of the season, Ziel emerged as one of the team’s best hitters.

The team’s resilience paid off when the Rivals found their groove in late March and played competitive ball through late April. In that stretch, EJ endured some tough losses while also earning three memorable victories over Vashon, Seattle Christian, and Cascade Christian.

Strong pitching powered those three wins and kept many losses close. Few opponents could cope with the spinning curves and heating fastballs thrown by EJ’s two star pitchers: PT senior Brody Moore and Chimacum sophomore Rylan Dunn.

"They played well off of each other,” said Chimacum junior Austin Glanz. “They have very different pitching styles, so having them in the same rotation was simply filthy."

Unfortunately, bad weather prevented the Rivals from fully capitalizing on Moore and Dunn’s pitching skills. Several April rainouts forced rescheduling that made May a dense logjam of games that overtaxed EJ’s bullpen and crowded out practices.

"The games simply took over most of our weeks, leaving us with limited practices,” said Glanz. “When we did practice it was always nonproductive," in part because EJ needed to prioritize the recovery of their pitchers’ arms.

Consequently, the season ended with a nightmarish seven-game losing streak.

Glanz, the team’s best batter, also blamed “inconsistent hitting."

"Sometimes we look like unstoppable forces,” he said. “And other times we couldn't hit a medicine ball."

The Rivals (3-14) finished sixth among seven teams in the Nisqually League.

"Overall, not what we wanted but what we got,” said PT senior Cash Holmes, the Nisqually League’s third-rated catcher.

Rivals players credited Lozano’s tenacity. "Our coach didn’t give up on us, even though we had a tough season,” said Dunn.

“We could be down [by] 100 and the man would never give up,” agreed Ziel. “His pride just wouldn't let him, and that's what we need, too, for the East Jefferson culture."

"Looking back, I couldn't have asked for a better group of guys to go to war with,” said Moore. “We fought every game to the last second. We learned how to handle tough losses, along with great moral life lessons that these men will carry on their backs for the rest of their lives."

“The memories this team has accumulated over these past four years are something nobody can ever take away from me,” added Holmes, “with senior year being by far the best!"

Gary Zambor is a student in Brian MacKenzie’s journalism class at Chimacum High School