Opposites attract for slugging pair

Jake Lamb and Josh Sale were on the same recreation basketball team five years ago, though neither can recall much about the experience. They once hit at the same batting cage in middle school, but that's about the only baseball the two played together prior to their arrival at Bishop Blanchet (Seattle).

Lamb is a senior who lives in the Queen Anne section of Seattle about 10 minutes from school. Sale (pronounced sah-ley) is a junior who resides in Renton, which is roughly 25 minutes away from Blanchet.
In other words, the two don't exactly share much in common. But once they step between the lines for the Braves, they form the most dangerous hitting duo in the state.

"We don't hang out or anything outside of school, but when we get on the field we know what needs to get done," says Lamb. "We're just looking for our next victim."

Lamb, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound shortstop, signed with Washington and is rated the state's No. 1 senior prospect and No. 74 nationally by Baseball America. Sale is a 6-foot, 205-pound right fielder and Gonzaga commit who is rated the state's No. 1 junior prospect and No. 29 in the nation by Perfect Game.

The two left-handed batters hit back to back in Blanchet's order, with Lamb batting third and Sale cleanup. Each is focused on taking his game to another level.

"We're really driven in baseball and want to get to the same spot," says Sale.

Both Sale and Lamb joined the varsity during the 2007 season, but they've taken different paths to become all-around forces on the diamond.

Lamb started at second for the Braves as a lanky 6-foot-1, 150-pound sophomore. He says he could barely bench press 100 pounds, and Blanchet head coach George Monica took notice.
One day while the team was practicing in the batting cages, Monica told Lamb to head across the quad to the weight room. After practice, Monica quipped that Lamb looked like Olive Oyl.
Lamb finished the year batting a respectable .306 with 15 RBIs, but he knew he needed to increase his strength if he wanted to become a star. Once the season ended, he started lifting five days a week. He can now bench press 250 pounds and deadlift 405.

By the time his junior season arrived, Lamb was crushing balls into the gaps. He finished last year at .412 with 16 doubles, a homer and 15 RBIs. The work he put in during the offseason wasn't lost on the Blanchet coaching staff, which considers Lamb a leader and named him co-captain this year.

"It's always nice when your captain is one of your best players and one of your hardest workers," says Monica, who's in his 30th
season. "He's really developed into a fine leader. The kids respect him and the coaches respect him. That's as good as it gets."

"He knows the game and is a prominent force on the field," adds Sale.

While Lamb took some time to build strength, Sale displayed awe-inspiring power from the first day he arrived at Blanchet. As a freshman, he clubbed three homers in four games for the JV before being called up to varsity and becoming the starting right fielder.

It didn't take Sale long to make an impression on varsity. Against Lakeside, he clobbered a home run over the top of a building past the fence in right-center field that landed roughly 400 feet from home.

Sale credits his phenomenal power to his father, Jesse, a former competitive powerlifter who devises his son's workouts.

"My dad has been there for me since Day 1," says Sale. "We made this agreement when I was 7. He said, 'If you want to do it, me and your mom will be there to support you, but you have to put in the hard work."'

During the offseason, Sale does heavy lifting three days a week and spends the rest of his time in the batting cage. Heading into this year, he upped his squat to 500 pounds for 12 reps, his bench to 335 pounds for two reps and his deadlift to 405 pounds for eight reps. And to think, he's only a junior.

All the lifting and reps in the batting cage have paid off in a big way for Sale, who's turned himself into a consistent power threat. Last season, he hit .470 with six homers and 34 RBIs and was selected to the All-Metro League first team along with Lamb.

The Braves finished the year 19-4 and advanced to the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs, where they fell to Auburn, 12-4. Sale went 2-for-3 with a homer in the loss.

"We don't have a fence at our practice field, so it's pretty much go to right field and see how far Josh hits it," says Lamb. "It's a show."

"If you were blind, you could tell who was in the cage," adds Blanchet assistant coach Rocky Ruddy. "It just has a different sound."

This year, scouts have come out to watch both Sale and Lamb -- and the duo hasn't disappointed. In an 11-1 win over Ingraham, Sale went 2-for-3 with a triple and a three-run homer, while Lamb was
2-for-3 with a two-run homer.
Though Lamb and Sale might be different off the field, their coach sees them heading in the same direction when it comes to baseball.

"Both boys," says Monica, "have a chance to be professional baseball players."

Jon Mahoney covers high school sports for ESPN RISE Magazine.