Senior Ryan Long fires away for the Overlake-Bear Creek Growls during a recent game. The Growls are 5-1 in nonleague games. Courtesy of Howard Campbell

Tight-knit, talented Growls set to begin 1A Emerald City League play

Stay loose and relaxed, there’s no point in going out on the field worried.

That’s what Overlake-Bear Creek head coach Mike Davidson tells his Growls baseball players, and that advice has paid dividends for the guys. Last year, they finished fourth at the 1A state tournament and this season they’re off to a 5-1 nonleague start. The Growls will open up 1A Emerald City League play with a 3:30 p.m. game at Bush on Wednesday.

Senior pitcher Ryan Long said that Davidson is a great leader and mentor who fully understands his team. The team prides itself on sportsmanship and shared leadership, which starts with captains Long and fellow seniors Karsten Kohout (third baseman) and Peter Dudunakis (shortstop).

“Everyone gets along. There’s a great atmosphere on the field and off the field. It’s an ideal team in that sense,” said Kohout, who added with a laugh that Davidson can be just as weird as the Growls are in the humor department.

Long added that along with strong chemistry, the team returns the core of its players from last year — they only graduated one player, standout Matt Kelleran — and everyone contributes to the team’s success.

“To have some success, the key is hitting throughout the entire order,” Long said.

One big game so far featured Long’s RBI double in the bottom of the sixth inning in the Growls’ 10-9 victory over Freeman. The game was tied 7-7 after four innings, the Growls punched ahead 9-7 after five and Freeman tied it up in the top of the sixth.

Long had three hits and three RBIs, followed by Tellier Lundquist with two hits and Kohout with four RBIs. Also getting hits were Dudunakis, Ryan Eldridge, Jay Sivadas and Jon Campbell.

Even though the Growls finished fourth at state last season and have built a strong program over the years, they still run onto the field with an underdog mentality since they never seem to make the early state rankings.

“We do our best when we’re trying to prove people wrong,” Kohout said.

Long said the team just does its thing without fret.

“Everyone needs to stay in their role. They’re there to help the team, not just for their own individual successes,” Long said.

Next year, Dudunakis and Long will hit the diamond at College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, Mass.) and Pomona Pitzer College (Claremont, Calif.), respectively.

Dudunakis set a goal for himself when he was young to play college baseball.

“At Holy Cross, I’m going to bring a good baseball work ethic, which I’ve learned from playing under captains who have the same goal as I had,” he said in an earlier Reporter story.

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