CAMANCHE – A trip down the ERA column of the Camanche baseball team’s stat sheet is telling: 1.35, 2.73, 0.90, 1.87… but the accompanying grade distinctions are even more eye-opening: sophomore, freshman, junior, sophomore, sophomore.
The Indians’ youth is showcased on a nightly basis throughout the diamond, most notably on the pile of dirt in the middle of the infield.
After graduating Jake Drury and P.J. Pucket, who both twirled sub-.200 ERAs through 36 2/3 innings last summer, coach Darryl Cochran turned to the Indians’ seemingly never-ending fountain of athletic youth – and they have not disappointed.
Mason McManus, a junior, has been the most effective, as the southpaw has only allowed three earned runs through 23 1/3 innings (0.90 ERA). Most of McManus’ appearances have come in relief, which is a luxury (and quite possibly a necessity) for teams eying a lengthy postseason run.
Brayden Lodge, a sophomore, was serving as the team’s ace before aggravating his arm in early June. Lodge made three starts before the injury, allowing only four runs over 15 innings. The Indians won all three starts, including June 4 vs. Tipton, when Lodge threw a two-run complete game.
Lodge was sidelined 13 games but has since returned to the lineup as an infielder with aspirations of pitching before the season concludes.
The underclassmen duo of Logan Shaw and Zach Erwin have served as the Indians’ workhorses, as Shaw has thrown a team-high 26 innings with Erwin trailing his teammate by a single out at 25 2/3.
Shaw, a sophomore, has dazzled for Cochran and company, allowing only five runs in 26 innings (1.35 ERA). Erwin, a freshman, leads the team with five starts this season and held an ERA below 2.00 for the majority of the season before a talented West Branch team hung six runs on the right-hander last month.
“They [the young pitchers] have been pretty poised, I have been really impressed with them,” Cochran said. “They saw quite of bit of action last year for us, too, so it’s not like it’s a new thing for them… they’ve played a lot of baseball and it shows.”
It does indeed. Camanche has earned a first-round bye in the postseason behind a current 14-10 record, and the team’s 12-5 mark in league play trails Cascade by one game in the River Valley Conference (North). A glance behind the box scores illustrates the foundation of the team’s sizzling start, as the Indians are first in the North in team ERA (2.52), earned runs allowed (40) and strikeouts (78).
“They [the pitching staff] have had a big, big impact on us,” Cochran said.
Lodge said the pitching group has donned the same jersey for several seasons, waiting for their chance to represent the school and community on the varsity stage.
“We’re all super young, and those of us on the pitching staff have been playing with each other since we were seven or eight years old,” Lodge said. “We know what we are capable of and how good our defense is behind us, we just have to let them work and throw strikes.
Mike Delzell, a freshman, has also been instrumental to the staff, as have Nolan Baker, Morgan Butt and Cade Everson, who can each step in and get outs over the course of a tumultous season that presents multiple games every week.
Camanche will host Mid-Prairie at NelsonCorp Field Saturday before opening its last week of the regular season Tuesday against Calamus-Wheatland on the campus of Mount Mercy Unversity.