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Tournaments | Story | 7/1/2019

Hagenow hurls masterpiece

Cory Van Dyke     
Photo: Ryan Hagenow (Perfect Game)

DALLAS, Ga. – At the Perfect Game National Showcase, pitcher Ryan Hagenow made quick work of the opposing batters, going six up, six down with six strikeouts.

Fast forward to his first appearance at the 2019 WWBA 17u National Championship for eXposure 17u Prime, and it was lather, rinse, repeat. Hagenow again set down the first six Easley Baseball Club 2020 hitters, all on strikeouts.

“He’s a legitimate No. 1 guy,” eXposure coach Greg Payne said. “He’s going to throw it hard. He’s going to have command. Secondary pitches are all going to be strikes. He just doesn’t have an off day. As a coach when you’re lining up your pitching, it’s really easy to plug that one guy there knowing exactly what you’re going to get.”

Using a fastball that stayed in the upper-80s and ran up to 92 mph along with a wipeout slider and fading changeup, Hagenow was at ease through 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball, surrendering just four hits and two walks. 

The 6-foot-5, 200-pound righthander punched out 12 batters on the day. He also fielded his position by snagging a bunt down the line with a diving catch, and only found himself in trouble once the entire game in the third inning with one out and runners on second and third. 

However, Hagenow channeled a little bit of his inner Max Scherzer, the player he says he models his game after because of his competitive spirit, by inducing a weak comebacker to the mound and a three-pitch strikeout to end the threat.

“All of our catchers, all three of us argue about who’s catching Ryan which day,” said catcher Carter Edge, whose three-run homer helped power eXposure to the 5-0 triumph. “It makes it fun to catch.”

Easley came into Monday’s matchup with a 4-0 record, having scored 36 runs over the course of those games. Hagenow stifled those hots bat and demonstrated exactly why he’s the No. 46 overall player in the 2020 class.

Most impressive about Hagenow’s outing was his ability to mix in his slider and changeup. No matter the count, all three pitches were on the table for the hurler. It’s a rare sight for a 17 year old, especially one who could just rely on his ability to uncork a fastball in the 90s.  

“The ability to throw any pitch in any count and the confidence that he throws it with,” Payne said. “It’s one of the many things that makes him a next level guy.”

That wasn’t always the case for Hagenow, though. When he first headed into high school, Hagenow was the tall pitcher with a lack of mechanics. Over the years, Hagenow has refined his delivery, allowing him to develop into such an exceptional talent.

“When I went into high school and I grew a ton, it was kind of hard to control my body,” Hagenow said. “As I’m getting older and I’m getting stronger, it’s a lot easier to repeat my mechanics and just be able to throw strikes with everything.”

Hagenow had high praise for the aforementioned trip to Phoenix earlier this month for the PG National Showcase.

“It was unbelievable,” Hagenow said. “Throwing at a big league stadium like that was the best experience of my life baseball wise for sure. Stepping on a mound like that with everything being perfect, it was awesome.”

Now, he’s just waiting for a potential invite to the Perfect Game All-American Classic. Hagenow admitted that it’s been on his mind every day since the showcase. He’s been checking daily to see if the rosters have been released early, hoping to create another baseball memory that would top his time at Chase Field. 

The University of Kentucky commit keeps fulfilling one baseball goal after another. Later on in the year, he may cross another one off the list with his name likely being called at the 2020 MLB Draft. It’s still surreal for Hagenow to think that he pictured himself in this spot years ago while keenly observing his brothers Brett and Jake play.

“It started with my brothers,” Hagenow said. “They played when I was younger, and I just watched them play and fell in love with the game. I still love it to this day.

“They kind of helped teach me everything along with my dad and my mom. Watching them play at the high school level, I thought I’d be able to do that one day, so I just kept on developing.”

Thanks to Hagenow’s dominant start, eXposure improved to 5-0 in pool play, and they’re now in the driver’s seat with two games left to play before bracket play begins. It’s been an impressive run for the team from Chattanooga, who now has three shutouts in those five games with Jake Poindexter and James Sells adding to the tally in their earlier starts.

“It’s tough because there’s so many good teams,” Payne said. “You look at it day by day to see what you can do. We have two more games to go to finish it out, and hopefully we’ll continue to do some things at the plate and get great pitching.”

Payne is pleased with the route that his team is heading, but he still wants to see the offense take it up a notch if eXposure 17u Prime is going to be a contender heading into Wednesday and Thursday.

“Hit it hard and good things happen,” Payne said. “If we make solid contact, swing at good pitches, run the bases and bunt, we’re going to be OK.”

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