It's an overcast Thursday afternoon in Woodinville and Marty Luckenbach and Spencer Greer are being egged on by their teammates as they stand side-by-side.
"Hey Spencer, Marty's looking a little taller there," one chimes.
Greer moves to the other side of Luckenbach to be on higher ground and look like the taller of the two. This moment encapsulates the friendly rivalry that has developed between the two junior pitchers. Luckenbach is only an inch taller than Greer (6'6 to 6'5) but the message is clear: anything you can do, I want to do better.
That kind of competition has been nothing but good news for the Falcons in 2011. With Greer and Luckenbach leading the way, the Falcons nabbed the two-seed in the KingCo playoffs and have a chance to make their first state tournament since 2007.
Despite their similar stature, the two are very different pitchers. Both use four pitches (fastball, changeup, curve, slider) but Greer is a contact pitcher, while Luckenbach is more in the power pitcher mold, hitting as high as 93 mph on the radar gun.
But each has been key for the light-hitting Falcons. Woodinville hits .299 as a team, but lacks in the power category, with just five homeruns as a team on the year, less than each of KingCo rival Redmond's top two hitters. The Falcons rely on a brand of small-ball not usually condusive to the high school game. In order for it to work, the teams top pitchers have to be close to lights-out.
Greer and Luckenbach have been doing their best to be so. Greer is 4-3 with a 2.05 ERA, while Luckenbach is 4-1 with a miniscule 1.03 ERA. Each has thrown over 40 innings on the season and have given up just a combined 48 hits in 81.2 innings.
"We get along really well," Luckenbach said. "We understand that we're both pitchers and talk about baseball."
It's clear pretty quickly the respect the two have for one another. When I ask if either has college plans, Greer is the first to reply that Luckenbach has verbally committed to Oregon State. Luckenbach then quickly looks to Greer and adds " it's all projectability." When Greer says that he has not received any college offers, Luckenbach chips in "that just means you're unofficially going everywhere."
Hearing this kind of back-and-forth, it's hard to imagine that these two have been on the same team for only one year. Growing up, the two were little-league rivals, each the best pitcher on his respective team. 2011 marks the first time the duo have been starters on the same squad, a fact that does nothing to change how quickly they've fallen into a rhythm. When one pitcher has faltered, the other has picked him up in the next game.
That kind of dynamic is indicative of the overall team philosophy of Woodinville in 2011. The Falcons have made a name for themselves by being a team that thrives on chemistry and the team intangibles that can't be defined in a box score.
"We just play Woodinville baseball and the big thing about Woodinville is we've got to have chemistry, we've got to play as a team," Luckenbach said.
"We're a lot more of a team this year that we were last year," Greer added.
Woodinville will need to rely on that chemistry after it lost its first-round KingCo game to Skyline on Saturday. Woodinville will play Ballard on Monday night at 7 p.m. at Inglemoor High School in a loser-out game. Even if Woodinville wins, it would need to win three more games in a row to make the state tournament. It’s a tough task for any team, but if the Falcons can follow the lead of their top pitchers, that state berth may just still be in play.