Kiser packs a punch for Lake Zurich Legion teamBarrington, Il. 06/25/11-Baseball. American Legion Tournament at Barrington, Lake Zurich vs. Vermont. Tanner Kiser makes the long throw from the outfield. | Joe Cyganowski~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 19, 2011 12:58PM
It’s shaping up to be one of the area’s most anticipated debuts.
Tanner Kiser has yet to play a single inning for the Lake Zurich High School varsity baseball team. But that hasn’t stopped the incoming junior from making himself at home on the Bears’ field.
Lake Zurich has built a tradition of success behind some of the most prolific lineups in the NSC over the years. And Kiser, a left-hander with a potentially eye-opening power stroke, could be the next game-changing home run hitter to come through the program.
Kiser appears more imposing than his 6-foot, 180-pound frame when he digs into the batter’s box. And the ball has rocketed off his dangerous bat with a dizzying force for most of the summer.
Although he’s one of the youngest on the team, Kiser has emerged as a key run-producer out of the clean-up spot for the Lake Zurich American Legion club — which plays its home games at LZHS — this summer.
Entering the week, the hard-hitting 16-year-old posted team-highs in batting average (.409), hits (27), doubles (6), home runs (4) and RBI (24) in 22 games.
“I’ve been trying to go to the opposite field,” said Kiser, who is in his second year with Post 964. “I’m really thinking about hitting it into the left-center field gap so I don’t pull off the ball.”
Kiser, who also plays first base and pitches, put his pure power on display when he drilled four long balls in three games between Lake Zurich’s summer team and Post 964 last week.
“He’s been hammering the ball all over the field,” Lake Zurich American Legion coach Dan Grant said. “He’s young for American Legion — we have some kids who are going to be college sophomores in the fall. It’s been a step up in quality for him and he’s having an unbelievable year.”
Not too shabby for an up-and-comer who only saw time in JV games for Lake Zurich as a sophomore.
“He’s a big-swing guy and when he makes contact, he really hits the ball hard somewhere,” Grant added. “It’s going to be interesting to see how he does in high school next year.”
Next level: Grant isn’t the only one interested in watching the young slugger on the varsity in 2012. Kiser said he’s looking forward to the much-anticipated challenge that awaits.
“I’m looking forward to getting that experience with the older guys there,” Kiser added. “We have some pretty good guys who colleges are going to look at. I’m just going to learn from the older guys and their approach to the game.”
Northern blues: Kyle Sanders, Brian Wiest and Mike Irgang earned all-tournament honors as Post 964 managed to finish just 1-3 at the River City Classic in Eau Claire, Wisc., last weekend.
Sanders tore it up by going 6-for-12 and Wiest went 5-for-8 to lead Lake Zurich offensively. Irgang shined on the mound in the team’s lone victory by allowing just four hits and three runs and adding eight strikeouts in a complete-game victory.
Jacob LaRue drove home Wiest (2 RBI) with a single in the bottom of the seventh to give Post 964 the dramatic 4-3 win over Green Bay Southwest. Lake Zurich also dropped contests to Eau Claire (8-2), Spooner-Hayward (7-5) and Wisconsin Rapids (6-4).
After a hot start (3-for-6 in the first two games), Kiser ended up going 3-for-13 in the tourney.
“It was tough, but we played well in every game,” Grant said. “It’s always fun going up there, but it’s disappointing when you don’t come back with some wins.”
Crunch time: Lake Zurich (13-13) needed one win in its final three games earlier this week to qualify for the 10th District playoffs. The playoffs were scheduled to open on Wednesday.