PORT ANGELES — Recent Port Angeles graduate Lucas Jarnagin is on the cusp of a Roughriders’ baseball reunion.
And that’s a blessing for a well-rounded, four-sport athlete who contributed mightily to his team’s successes while enjoying the camaraderie with his teammates along the way.
“For me, every sport I played I had good friends who played with me, and we enjoyed all those experiences. The bus rides, getting a win and celebrating together. Just a great feeling seeing my friends grow up and seeing us grow as a team and our friendships get stronger and stronger.”
Jarnagin was the first of six Port Angeles senior baseball players to commit to playing at the next level when he signed with Bremerton’s Olympic College back in December. His commitment to the Rangers was soon followed by teammate Milo Whitman signing with the Kitsap County junior college. The pair will be joined at Olympic by 2019 Port Angeles graduate Gavin Guerrero, who transfered from Umpqua College. And Jarnagin said another 2019 Rider grad, pitcher Seth Scofield, is likely to try out for the squad.
Olympic College baseball coach Ryan Parker is familiar with Port Angeles’ success on the baseball diamond.
“These guys have won a lot of games in high school, and that is important to us,” Parker said. “They play the game hard and have a winners’ mentality.”
Jarnagin said that mentality developed from an early age.
“Growing up playing baseball as little kids, we never really lost a game,” Jarnagin said. “As we grew up, we loved winning and hated how it felt to lose. That stuck with us.”
Jarnagin was part of North Olympic Baseball and Softball’s 12U World Series team that competed in Florida along with many of his high school teammates. That core group went a combined 37-10 overall in their sophomore and junior years of high school, going 23-1 in Olympic League play and winning back-to-back league championships on walk-off wins over rival North Kitsap. The team also won the West Central District Championship in 2019 and fell at state to the eventual state champion Sehome Mariners.
In the league title games against North Kitsap, Jarnagin came through in the clutch in both contests.
His pinch-hit RBI double as a sophomore came as part of a three-run rally in the Riders’ final at-bats in a 9-8 win over the Vikings.
“Beating North Kitsap for the title sophomore year,” Jarnagin said when asked his favorite high school sports memory. “As a sophomore I hadn’t had a lot of varsity playing time. I was mainly watching the other kids and waiting for a shot. That double felt really good off the bat and Bo Bradow walked it off [drove in the winning run] right after that. That’s probably one of my favorite baseball memories ever.”
He followed it up as a junior, hitting a hot chopper down the third base line that got past the North Kitsap third baseman for the game-winning two-run single in a 3-2 win over the Vikings to repeat as league champs. Jarnagin hit a scorching .426 as a junior, with three home runs and 21 RBIs.
Having fallen at state in close games against the eventual state runner-up as a sophomore in Mountlake Terrace and to the champs last season, Jarnagin knows his squad could have been in the state tournament mix again this spring, if not for a pandemic.
“Ever since our freshman season we had talked about making it as far as we could, and we really thought our senior year was going to be our year. We had high hopes of winning league again, winning districts again and making a deep run. That was our goal this year, to make a run.”
Choosing Olympic came after participating in a team workout last fall with the Olympic College squad, Jarnagin said.
“The reason why OC hooked me so much was when we had our workout, we worked out with the whole entire team, and it felt like we were already part of things,” Jarnagin said. “We were able to practice and hit with the team and hang out with them.”
Milo and I had the idea of playing together and I think me committing to OC led to him making the decision, and then all of a sudden Gavin transfers in. It’s a good situation for all of us.”
And Parker is happy to get the 6-foot-4, left-handed-hitting Jarnagin on board.
“Lucas is a big, physical guy who we will use at first base and in the outfield this fall. We look for him to be a guy who can hit in the middle of our order somewhere and bring some power from the left side. As an outfielder, Lucas tracks the ball well and has a strong throwing arm. At first base, he brings the size we like. He has some work to do defensively at first to become a great first baseman, but the ability is there. Scouts and college coaches will like his size and strength, and if he continues to develop the way we think he will, he’s going to get a lot of attention [from four-year programs].”
And Jarnagin is working to stay solid at the plate before heading to Bremerton.
“One thing I am trying to improve on is staying a consistent hitter,” Jarnagin said. “Playing summer ball with Wilder [Baseball Club] after junior year, I struggled. I went through a stage where I almost didn’t want to play a fall or winter sport, I was so unmotivated to play anything but baseball. But I’m super thankful that I played football and basketball since we missed out on baseball.”
And Jarnagin thanked his parents and former coaches for their assistance along the way.
“A huge list of people,” Jarnagin said. “My parents [Jill and Emmett Jarnagin] of course. I’m kind of a crazy kid and I love them, they’ve always been there for me. Pat Nickerson coached me in almost every single sport I played, basketball, baseball and football. Rob Merritt, Tim Adams and Karl Myers for sure. And my grandpa and grandma Jarnagin, Pat and Shirley. There’s so many people, I can’t think of them all right now.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected].