2B Baseball: Rainier Mountaineers Don’t See Youth as a Shortcoming in Shortened Season

By Eric Rosane / erosane@yelmonline.com
Posted 3/25/21

The Rainier baseball team’s fourth-place finish at the 2019 WIAA State 2B Tournament was its best result ever, and the program looked prime to get back on the diamond in the spring of 2020 and …

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2B Baseball: Rainier Mountaineers Don’t See Youth as a Shortcoming in Shortened Season

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The Rainier baseball team’s fourth-place finish at the 2019 WIAA State 2B Tournament was its best result ever, and the program looked prime to get back on the diamond in the spring of 2020 and restructure a young team into something dynamic. 

But then COVID-19 hit. 

Now, a year removed from a canceled 2020 season, Rainier is returning an even younger 16-man squad to a shortened six-week season with hopes of reestablishing their place in the competitive Central 2B League. 

The team is the youngest and most untested group that Head Coach Mark Mounts has had in his 14 years with the Mountaineers — but that’s not unique in the era of COVID, and it certainly isn’t a problem for the passionate coach. 

“This is the youngest group of kids that we’ve ever had, but that doesn’t mean that we’re less talented by any means. This is probably the deepest group I’ve had, but youngest at the same time,” Mounts said. “Right here, you could easily go 15 deep and athletically, physically, they could handle it.” 

The Mountaineers this season are composed of four eighth graders, four freshmen, three sophomores, one junior and three seniors. While at least half the team has never played high school ball, Mounts said they’re an experienced bunch with many having played select and recreation ball within the last year. 

Rainier will be led this year by junior third baseman Ethan Gonzales, senior catcher and shortstop Michael Green, sophomore outfielder and pitcher Jake Jeske and senior outfielder Carson Edminster. Mounts said they plan on rotating three to four players on the mound this season. 

The focus this season will be on getting the team’s upperclassmen more playing time while also building team chemistry. They’ll have just one opportunity to play against each league opponent this year. 

“It was rough,” Mounts said, reflecting on last year’s canceled season. “Our kids, they handled it well last year, but it was still rough because there was that hope that was given for so long … With our older kids, I just want them to enjoy the game one last season because they didn’t get to play last year. We should be just fine. It doesn’t matter that we’re young.” 

Green and Gonzales said it has been great to be back on the diamond this season after so much time away from high school sports. Their team only lost one senior from the canceled season last year, so they feel pretty tight with each other.

“We’re young, so we’re trying to find spots for guys, and we do have good ball players. We will have younger guys playing games and we do have spots open. So, it’ll be interesting to see how we come out and start,” Gonzales said.

With only five practices before they were due to play Stevenson on Monday, the leading players do admit they’re still trying to figure out what their team will look like come the season’s first pitch. 

“It’s a little different. It feels weird to not be playing for more than just pride, but playing for pride is just as good,” Green said. “I think the guys are really just trying to enjoy the season with each other because we kind of know when the end is … It’s different, it’s weird. I don’t know how to explain it.” 

Goals this season include rebuilding the team’s dynamic, building up their young players and trying to get those youngsters ready for the next year, said Green. 

In spring 2019, Rainier went 15-5 overall, and ultimately made it to the semifinal round of the state tournament where they were eliminated in a 14-8 loss to runner up Kalama.

Though this year’s state tournament has been canceled, there may be district play opportunities available to the Mountaineers.

 

Key returning players

Michael Green, Ethan Gonzales, Jake Jeske and Carson Edminster. 

 

2021 Varsity Roster 

(By jersey number, name, position, and year)

• No. 3 Ryder Cruse, IN/C, freshman

• No. 4 Sabastian Clark, OF, freshman

• No. 6 Gavin Owen, IN/P, sophomore

• No. 7 Jake Meldrum, OF/IN, eighth grade

• No. 8 Johnny Boesch, IN/OF, freshman



• No. 11 Riffe Holmes, IN, senior

• No. 12 John Kenney, OF/IN/P, freshman 

• No. 14 Carson Edminster, OF/P, senior

• No. 15 Michael Green, C/IN, senior

• No. 20 Conner Mounts, OF, eighth grade

• No. 22 Charles Marvin, OF, sophomore

• No. 23 Hunter Howell, IN/OF, eighth grade

• No. 24 Ethan Gonzales, P/IN, junior

• No. 25 Jared Sprouffske, OF, freshman

• No. 34 Dayton Garner, IN/C, eighth grade

• No. 38 Jake Jeske, OF/P, sophomore

• No. 40 Jayden Carras, OF, senior

 

2021 Varsity schedule 

• Monday, March 22, 3:30 p.m. — hosting Stevenson at Lacey RAC

• Thursday, March 25, 3:30 p.m. — hosting Onalaska at Lacey RAC

• Monday, March 29, 4 p.m. — at Morth-White Pass

• Thursday, April 1, 4:30 p.m. — at Black Hills for non-league matchup

• Monday, April 5, 4 p.m. — at Wahkiakum

• Thursday, April 8, 4 p.m. — at Toledo

• Monday, April 12, 3:30 p.m. — hosting Adna at home

• Wednesday, April 14, 4 p.m. — at Napavine

• Saturday, April 17, 3:30 p.m. — at Kalama

• Monday, April 19, 3:30 p.m. — hosting Winlock at Lacey RAC

• Thursday, April 22, 3:30 p.m. — hosting Toutle Lake at home

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