NCS Junior of the Year
EAMONN LANCE, DRAKE
An off-season filled with hard work, on and off the field, led to dramatic improvements on the diamond this year for Drake junior infielder Eamonn Lance, who boosted every facet of his game to become the top player in the Marin County Athletic League, leading the Pirates in their transition from 2017 Division III champion to 2018 Division II contender.
Though the Pirates’ season ended in the semifinals this year, to eventual champion Alameda, Drake did capture the regular season MCAL crown, led by a huge season from Lance. After hitting .288 with one home run as a sophomore, he hit the weight room, made huge strides with his off-season travel team, and returned to the Pirates as a dynamic leader, hitting .455 with 11 home runs and 40 RBIs.
“Eamonn has always been someone who plays with a chip on his shoulder. Last summer, he got a spot on the NorCal ‘A’ team, and it opened his eyes to what people thought of his potential,” said Drake coach Will Mosley. “He took that and worked very hard. He is driven to be a college baseball player, and to reach his potential. He’s out there working hard, every single day.”
Lance opened his season by getting on base and scoring in each of the Pirates’ first two games, a big non-league win over Petaluma and a one-run loss to eventual BVAL champion and Division I semifinalist Heritage, hitting a double off BVAL MVP Bryson Kinnick in the latter game. But it was his next two games where his off-season work really started to show.
The junior standout homered and drove in five runs during a lopsided win over Washington-Fremont, and then homered twice in an 8-0 win over eventual Division III finalist Campolindo. As the season wore on, Lance only continued his high level of production. He finished the year with 16 multi-hit games, including nearly every game Drake played in the month of April.
“He didn’t miss the barrel for about a month. It was really an impressive stretch,” Mosley said. “It’s really satisfying to see someone work so hard, and see it come to fruition.”
As the post-season came into focus, Lance once again took the lead for the Pirates. In a first-round pitcher’s duel against Arroyo, the junior’s solo home run provided all the run support for pitchers Colin Brown and Ryan McLaughlin, in a 1-0 victory over the Dons.
“Eamonn was our rock throughout. Him and Ryan gave us a chance to win against anyone,” Mosley said. “The year he had, even in our last game, he gave us a chance with his late double. He was there for us all year.”
Indeed, in the Pirates’ 2-1 quarterfinal win over Washington, Lance drove in the game-tying run in the third inning, setting the stage for a late walk-off victory. Then, in the 1-0 semifinal loss to Alameda and standout pitcher Max Nyrop, it was Lance’s double in the sixth inning which gave Drake its best scoring opportunity.
For the year, Lance finished with that .455 average, 11 home runs, 12 doubles, 29 runs scored, 10 stolen bases, and 34 RBIs, all despite playing in a pitching-heavy league, where low-scoring games were the norm. Between his ability to hit for power and his .515 on-base percentage, he finished the year with a 1.504 OPS, while adding 52 assists defensively.
“I had lofty expectations for him, and he was able to exceed them. He became able to cover the entire plate, and drive off-speed pitches,” Mosley said. “Eamonn has come a long way, and he appreciates the grind of baseball. He is definitely going to generate some interest from the next level.”
For his efforts throughout the season, we are pleased to recognize Eamonn Lance as the Prep2Prep North Coast Section Junior of the Year.
Other players considered include Berkeley’s Michael Dixon, Alameda’s Max Nyrop, Fremont Christian’s Bubba Gomez, and Freedom’s Kyren Paris.